This past week, my family and I took advantage of the sunny weather to make our way to Mebane’s newest featured attraction - Cates Farm Park. Nestled between the Mill Creek community and the new Highway 119 bypass, Cates Farm Park offers some beautiful scenic walking trails for local residents, their children and their pets. Combining cleared open pathways and heavily-wooded stretches, the new walking paths are ideal for those seeking fitness, along with those seeking a leisurely stroll. And it’s easy to imagine that Cates Farm Park will become one of the preferred destinations for Mebane residents and guests in the coming months and years.
Cates Farm Park is just a couple miles from downtown Mebane, right along N.C. Highway 119. Take a left turn at the Mebane N.C. Highway 119 Pumping Station, approximately 100 yards from the entrance to Mill Creek, to access the site. There is ample parking nearby, along with a large sign complete with a full map of the walking trails, a legend to identify pertinent landmarks, and contact information in case of any issues or concerns.
There are two trails available for walkers - The Wildflower Loop, a half-mile winding jaunt around the large barn on the Cates Farm property, and the Forest Loop, which takes guest on a 1.5 mile trek into the woods on a series of twists and turns around landmarks such as “The Lumberyard,” “Ground Cedar Grove,” and “Beech Tree Point,” with markers indicating the progress at each quarter-mile.
The walking path is a dedicated dirt walkway that has been pressed hard into the earth to provide stability and long-term durability. It has been prepared in such a way as to easily allow walkers to stay on track. There are plenty of signs and markers along the way.
We made our way through the park for the very first time in the early morning hours of Sunday, January 24. And while the walking path was not muddy, the early morning dew did make for a few slick spots in the wooded portion of the Forest Loop. The Wildflower Loop was dry and comfortable, and it’s easy to imagine that on warm days - and later in the day after the sun has been up for a while - even the wooded Forest Loop path will be easily accessible without slick spots. It might be advisable in these winter months to avoid walking on the path after particularly wet nights the night before, at least until the sun has had time to dry things up a little.
Our family chose to take the longer Forest Loop on this initial visit to Cates Farm Park, and we’re quite glad we did. The walk was a brisk one, filled with plenty of scenery and nature. We could hear native birds and even the mooing of some nearby cows. The path is rarely straight-ahead, with tons of twists and turns. There are bridges, angled inclines, and meandering dips over dried-out creek beds. Fortunately, there are not significant elevations or drop-offs, such as in certain spots along the paths of Lake Michael Park, that would make the trek difficult for those with significant walking impairments.
It’s a relaxing walk - and we imagine even more so during the warmer months of the year, when the trees will be at full bloom, and one can get themselves lost in the greens and browns of the nearby forest.
Just after the midway point of the Forest Loop, walkers make their way to a stretch that runs parallel to the new N.C. Highway 119 bypass, which is still under construction. While the future will bring traffic to that particular area, it’s now a lonely stretch of unused road. The winter will allow residents to see a short segment of the bypass with the stripped trees, there should be minimal exposure in the spring, summer, and fall months due to the heavy foliage in the area, and the likelihood that tree cover will hide the highway.
It was a rewarding feeling for our entire family when we completed the Forest and Wildflower Loops and made our way back to our vehicle. The mile-and-a-half trek was challenging, but easy enough for small children and pets to make the walk. It was the perfect way to spend a morning with those you love - whether it’s your child babies, or your fur babies. We saw plenty of both on this initial walk, and we’re already looking forward to returning in the near future.
The hours for the new Cates Farm Park are from dawn to dusk. Some of the rules for the site include no using muddy trails, no loitering or littering, no bikes or motorized vehicles, no horses, no altering or removing of plants, no disturbing nearby wildlife, no alcohol or smoking, no firearms or hunting, no fires or camping, and no unpermitted events onsite. For emergencies, dial 911. Questions about Cates Farm Park should be referred to the Mebane Recreation and Parks Department at (919) 563-3629.