Two hours to hike a mile and a half? How is that possible?

It’s quite possible if you consider that this 6,942-acre holding owned by the state and managed by The Nature Conservancy is akin to the Disneyland of the natural world.

According to The Nature Conservancy: “In an average natural area, there are 8 to 10 species of plants growing in one square meter, but in the wetlands of Boiling Spring Lakes there are several times that number.” Thus, you can’t go more than a few steps without stopping and saying, “Oh, what’s that?” When you see, for instance:

• Red-cockaded woodpecker, featured on the federal government’s list of endangered species.
• Various carnivorous plants, including Venus flytraps and pitcher plants
• Rough-leaf loosestrife, also on the endangered species list.
• A variety of orchids
• More than 400 vascular plants

You’ll also travel through several eco zones, from xeric sandhill to pond pine woodland to pocosin, and the transition zones in between, adding to the stop-and-awe nature of the preserve.

Helping to make sense of it all is a brochure, downloadable here, that explains what you’re looking at. The brochure underscores the staggering amount of diversity to be found at Boiling Springs.

Two hours to explore the trail? You’re right, that is crazy.

Make it three.

More info: Boiling Springs Nature Preserve

Maps: Brochure and map available here.

Getting there from downtown Wilmington

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 25 minutes from downtown Wilmington
Time to complete: 2 hours
Address: 1 Leeds Road
City: Boiling Springs Lake
State: N.C.
Zip: 28461
Latitude: 34.0183
Longitude: 78.0356