Best Things to do at Morgan Grove Nature Area
by Sally Phipps
Morgan Grove Nature Area was first opened to the public, by the Southern Conservation Trust, in 2012. It was officially reopened in 2018. A retired working forest, the preserve sits on 60 acres consisting of pine forest, successional areas, bottomland hardwood forest along Gay Creek, and wetlands along the Flint River. Just a ten-minute drive from downtown Fayetteville, Morgan Grove is a remote but easily accessible hidden gem of natural tranquility.
About Morgan Grove
Morgan Grove’s trails are shaded, mostly flat, and well-spaced. Together they showcase the variation in habitat types located within the nature area. In addition to maintaining trails and park infrastructure, Southern Conservation Trust uses the property for its environmental and outdoor recreational programs.
Hikers, walkers, runners, and families will enjoy the layout of the nature preserve, with picnic tables and an open grassy area at the front leading to a network of short and well-maintained walking trails. Morgan Grove is a scenic natural escape and is welcome to canine companions as long as they are on a leash when on trails and under voice command when in other areas.
Visiting with Children
Families with little ones will enjoy the short and flat trails within the area, both easily accessible from the main parking lot. At the intersections of the two trails are benches in case little legs get tired and need to rest! Bring snacks or a picnic lunch to enjoy at the picnic tables next to the butterfly garden, and enjoy playtime on the grass before heading home!
Morgan Grove’s trail network is a natural classroom for students of all ages. Many of the naturally succeeding areas are full of shorter vegetation, eye-level for youngsters who can easily admire blooming native plants, and the colorful pollinators that utilize them. Bird songs can also be heard above the tranquil and quiet forest, encouraging listeners to see how many different calls they can make out! The observation deck on the yellow trail provides an opportunity to pause and take in the sights and sounds of the bottomland forest.
Hiking and Trail Running
While there are no climbs leading to sweeping views at Morgan Grove, the preserve offers a different type of trail experience: tranquility. The quiet and peaceful forest atmosphere is one of the preserve’s most notable features, making a refreshingly calm setting for a walk or run.
Though the preserve is still undergoing changes, the network of trails is easy to follow. Beginning just past the picnic area, the trailhead follows the red trail around a loop through and around the successional fields and back, or to meet up with the yellow trail deeper into the forest and towards the observation deck.
Morgan Grove’s red and yellow trails are perfect for runners looking to dip their toes into running off-road! The trails are mostly wide, easily graded, free of obstacles, and on a mix of packed dirt and sand. Ample shade from the forested areas helps to regulate temperature and is a welcome relief from the sun on hot days. Run both trails in a figure-eight formation for a mile-long course. Afterward, the grassy meadow at the entrance is the perfect place to relax with some cooldown stretches.
Morgan Grove Nature Area is open to the public during daylight hours. Whether you are looking for a short hike for the family close to Fayetteville or a peaceful natural setting to walk or run, the preserve offers accessible outdoor recreation for all ages.