They say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Wake County has taken this expression to the ultimate conclusion. At Green Hills County Park, they have transformed the county’s trash into a mountainous treasure for everyone. Green Hills, formerly known as the North Wake Landfill District Park, opened in 2010 two years after the landfill was closed. Now, hills of green meadow grasses, trails, paved walking and bike paths and a playground cover the grounds.
The entry road to the park takes you on a 1.4-mile paved loop around the main hill (or landfill slope). A recent upgrade to the park divided the loop road with one lane for vehicles and the other for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, while Eastern Bluebirds zip from post to post ahead of you, serving as a bright and bubbly welcoming committee. A stroll or slow ride around the hill often offers sightings of Eastern Meadowlarks and at the right time of the season, an American Kestrel may stand sentry on the hill. Wildlife viewing can be interesting at the park. Birds, especially, are drawn to the green space. Tree Swallows nest near the playground and Red-shouldered Hawks are residents in the wooded edges. Deer are frequently spotted in the parks and turtles and frogs are often found in the creeks of the adjacent greenways.
For most visitors, the HIGHlight of the park is the “Top of the Hill.” Off the paved loop, a gravel trail takes visitors on a tenth-of-a-mile trek up to the top of the main hill. At 469 feet above sea level, you are at a high peak for this part of the state. The short, steep climb provides for a spectacular view of Wake County. Runners and cyclists often take on the hill as part of an exercise loop.
The park has a popular playground for ages 5-12 with a climbing wall and climbing web and a tot lot for children 2-5 years old. The playground area has a few first-come-first-served picnic tables. A large picnic shelter, which can serve up to 100 people is adjacent to the playground. There also is a picnic table at the “Top of the Hill.” The parking areas along the loop provide access to two miles of mountain bike trails in the park and a mountain bike skills area and the park serves as a trailhead connecting Green Hill’s trails to the City of Raleigh’s Abbott’s Creek Trail and on to the Neuse River Greenway.
Visiting Green Hills County Park also can serve as an educational experience. Below the park, the solid waste of the landfill continues to decompose. Around the hill, you can see test wells, pipes and the liner which are all part of containing and monitoring the sealed landfill. Methane produced by the decomposing contents of the landfill is collected through a series of wells and pipes. The gas currently fuels processes at a nearby industry. The remaining gas is burned off in a flare station. You can often hear and see the flame burning when you visit the park.
One important note about Green Hills is a NO GRILLS policy. No open flames and no smoking either. Considering there is a methane collection system in the park, these rules are critical for eliminating the potential of grass fires.
For more information about Green Hills County Park, visit http://www.wakegov.com/parks/greenhills/Pages/default.aspx