Located along Hwy 751 in the Duke Forest’s Durham Division, the Shepherd Nature Trail offers a short, self-guided hike and provides a wonderful introduction to the Duke Forest.  Throughout the 0.8 mile loop, you encounter signage that considers the natural patterns and human activities that have shaped the Forest’s past and present.  Each sign offers an opportunity to discover the changing Forest and consider your role in its transformation.  For more information about the restoration of this trail, please see the information below.

Directions to the trail:  Head west along Cameron Blvd/Hwy 751.  Pass under the 15-501 bridge and travel straight through the roundabout.  Look for the Shepherd Nature Trail sign and Gate C, approximately 1 mile past the roundabout, on your right.  Parking is available along the graveled road shoulder.  The trailhead is just a short walk past the gate and up the hill.  Alternatively, use this link to generate directions: Google Map Link




In April 2017, we completed the restoration and enhancement of the Shepherd Nature Trail.  Details about this project are provided below.

The Duke Forest recently received a grant from the Durham County Open Space and Trails Commission to support a project to overhaul its worn-out, outdated, but one and only interpretive trail.  The trail is located off of Highway 751 in the Durham Division of the Duke Forest.  It is known as the Shepherd Nature Trail and was developed by boy scouts and then added to by students over the past 20 years.  It is intended to be a self-guided nature trail that demonstrates a continuum of systems typical of the North Carolina Piedmont and teaches visitors about tree species, forest processes, past inhabitants, and current research.  Unfortunately, both signage and sections of the trail have fallen into disrepair.

We hope the restoration and enhancement of the Shepherd Nature Trail will provide an outdoor forum for a wide range of users to learn about and discuss the natural environment of the NC Piedmont and sustainable forest management.  This project will improve the visibility, accessibility, and educational value of the Shepherd Nature Trail through overhauling signage, improving trail conditions, and investing in infrastructure upgrades. Examples include removing dense, difficult to read signage and replacing it with bright, descriptive, and easy to read educational ‘snapshots’; replacing fence railings and bridge treads to improve safety and accessibility; rerouting trail sections to prevent erosion, improve accessibility, and minimize tripping hazards; and building additional picnic tables near the trailhead to accommodate more users.

This project is funded through the Duke Forest Improvement Fund and by the Durham County Matching Grants Program for Recreation and Open Space Projects.

To view information about previous special projects in the Duke Forest – Korstian Trail Project Phase II, New Hope Creek Erosion Control Project, please visit our WordPress site.