well, here's a contest that is looking for photos (or drawings) of north carolina's hidden treasures. submissions have to be publically accessable natural lands. boy can i think of many of these places! two family favorites come to mind.
first, dehart botanical gardens - right here in louisburg (off 401) is definitely a hidden treasure. most of the time we go there, you don't even see another person. you can barely hear road traffic. you will see birds, flowers, trees, grasses, frogs, fish, and if you are quiet enough - turtles! my kids love to see if there is a troll under the bridges (they know the story about billy goat gruff). there is even a bamboo garden and a waterfall at dehart. you can visit here every week and never see everything!
this first photo was taken around 9am one morning in the fall. the second and third photos are my kids enjoying the beauty of dehart.
the next place that came to mind as a family favorite is blue jay point which is a wake county park. this was the first real trail my kids ever walked. it is a short trail, but they were really little! you can always find plenty of wildlife and plants to talk about along this trail. plus, there is an outcrop along the lake's edge which is a nice place to watch fishermen out in the lake and ospreys fly in the sky.
the first photo here is of "willie the worm", one of the many animals you can find along the blue jay point trail. the second one is my son sitting on the rocks down by the lake.