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Take a Field Trip to Piedmont Environmental Center

August 1, 2019

If you remember the thrill of going on an outdoor field trip, when you and your classmates loaded onto activity buses with bagged lunches and newfound energy, you know the fun you seemed to have at every turn. Sometimes the trip would be a decent ride away, but you might be surprised to find that one of those educational and exciting places is located right here in High Point.
 The Piedmont Environment Center was established in 1972 as a plant and animal preserve adjacent to the land dedicated to High Point City Lake Park. Upon being open to the public, it offered the first environmental education programs in Guilford County, and has been doing so ever since.
But what you’ll hopefully learn here is that the Piedmont Environmental Center isn’t just the perfect place for an educational class or field trip, it is your next stop for hiking trails, visiting small animal exhibits, and attending a community-based event.
So lace up your boots and get ready, here’s (almost) everything you need to know about making the most out of an environmentally-friendly trip to the Piedmont Environmental Center.

Natural Trails

There’s nothing quite like finding yourself tucked away in a trail, under the canopy of trees, and hearing all that nature has to offer. Let’s just say, it’s a harsh contrast to our televisions, radios and everyday sounds in the city. Whether you’re looking for the peace and quiet, a challenging run, or just a change in scenery, the Piedmont Environmental Center has over 11 miles of marked trails for you to explore. The trails are open from sunrise to sunset and they vary in length, with the longest, Deep River Trail, being 4.6 miles, and the shortest, Wildflower Trail, being .2 miles. Fiddlehead, Chickadee, and Raccoon Run are just a few of our favorites, but they could be yours too!

 

Know before you go: If you have never visited, walked or hiked the trails before, be sure to check out a map beforehand, and wear shoes that are protective and safe for outdoor use!

Educational Classes

Taking education to a whole new level, the Piedmont Environmental Center offers a variety of classes for a range of ages, interests and unique experiences. These can be for a school field trip, or just a quick trip on a weekend. There are daytime walks identifying and discussing the reptiles and amphibians that call High Point their home, and late nights spent with telescopes and binoculars that allow visitors to see Jupiter, Saturn and Mars while learning how to chart constellations. Preschoolers are welcomed to a tree exploration, where hugging is encouraged (and taught), and getting into the bark, leaves and seeds is part of growing up.

 

Know before you go: Some of the classes require pre-registration and have a cost, while others do not.

The Main Building

Equipped with dozens of details that make the building environmentally-friendly, the Main Building of the Piedmont Environmental Center is where you’ll find helpful information about the center, maps of the trails, and a classroom designed for indoor educational classes. It features a recycled aluminum roof and solar technology, but it also has a wrap-around porch, meant for relaxing, or staying dry during rainy weather. Be sure to stop by to get all of the information you need to get the most out of your visit!

 

Know before you go: The main building and restrooms are accessible every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The North Carolina Mapscape

This exhibit is not just any old map, although we admit, those are pretty cool. This 70-foot by 30-foot topographic relief map is built for walking on and discovering the topography of the central southeastern United States, with North Carolina at its center. There are six different geographic regions, marked bodies of water, interstates, political boundaries, landmark cities, and historical sites, all of which can be seen in a larger scale than a digital or printed map. Take your time to really learn about the topography of our land, or take a seat in the surrounding amphitheater.

 

Know before you go: Although this exhibit is colorful and physically interactive, it is not meant to be a playground.

Solar Heart Garden

Need a calming step away to sit and relax? The Solar Heart Garden is home to a variety of plants for visitors to examine and surround themselves with, while also featuring the meditative sounds of babbling water and chirping birds.

 

Know before you go: This could also be the place for a perfect photo-op to commemorate new outdoor memories!

October Community Event: Piedmont Environmental Center’s Halloween Safari

Whereas some wooded areas are used for spooking, haunting and scaring during Halloween season, Piedmont Environmental Center takes a different route. Groups and families light up the night with flashlights, meeting “animals” along the way, who explain their lives to daring explorers. Apple cider and cookies around the campfire make this night treat-worthy.

 

Know before you go: Make sure to double-check which nights are dedicated to small groups such as the boy or girl scouts, and which nights are open for families!

Discovering our High Points,

The HP Discovered Team

Photography by Maria West Photography

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