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Monday, September 21, 2009

ENCCAer's Hike to Temple Flat Rock:

Temple Flat Rock is a 37 acre nature preserve near Knightdale, NC. It is an unspoiled granitic outcrop of an ecological significance, and one of 26 granitic outcrops in eastern Wake and neighboring counties. The unusually pristine site has never suffered destructive actions such as trash dumping or vandalism like many of the other outcrops in the area. Surrounding the rock is open pastures, and young pine woods, which provides buffer zones from nearby farming activities.

The Rock is a generally flat, but sloping in places surface feature unique to the Piedmont region. There are other granitic outcrops in North Carolina more common in the mountains. Some of the more interesting plants found on the bare rock are mosses, lichens, Appalachian Sandwort (Minuartia glabra), and Sedum smallii.

September 7, 2009
Our group met at the parking small parking lot mid-morning on Saturday. The forecast was mostly cloudy skies with a small chance of rain. We began our hike skirting the eastern edge of the woods boarding an open pasture. A few blooming wildflowers were scattered amongst the tall grass and weeds. The overgrown trail loops around southwest to an opening leading into a power line corridor. From here we crossed parallel to the power lines, and made a stop at a rock outcrop. Was this the Temple Flat Rock?

Turned out the answer was no.

After returning to the trail boarding the pasture, we entered the woods via a narrow path. A short distance in Kimberli noticed a gravestone. We thought a strange place for a burial site. We exited the woods and continued to follow the loop trail. Having not found the Flat Rock, we returned to the parking lot for some drink and snacks. By this time it was raining lightly, not enough to end the hike, but we did cover our equipment until it stopped.

While we all were eating a snack, Dan and I talked about where the Flat Rock was located. After all that was the reason we came. The directions I got by email said: enter gated pasture on foot and walk along west fence line to a trail through oak-hickory forest. We had just came from that direction so we backtracked a short distance from the parking lot. I left the others to venture off into another open field. Meanwhile Dan found the woodland trail leading to the Flat Rock. Thanks Dan for getting us on the right path!

What most intrigued me about the site is here you have a large exposed rock where every spot there is something living on its surface. It may be tiny lichens the size of a dime (or smaller) while other areas are covered with deep green mini-forests of mosses. Scattered in the sunny spots were prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), various grasses, and shrubs boarding the rocky exposure.

After taking some time exploring the area, and shooting some photos, we returned to the parking lot to decide where to eat. Seems after all this walking, albeit over level ground, we got hungry.

Pizza anyone?

Photo Slideshow on Pbase

For another read about our recent adventure ck out Kimberli's blog Carolina Towns and Trails.
In 1984, the Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC) acquired a conservation easement for a 5.2 acre tract of land in eastern Wake County. Then in 1995, an additional 32 acres was donation by Jim and Grace Temple of Goldsboro, NC. The Temples donated the land to TLC in memory of Mr. Temple’s mother, Louise Parker Temple, who was a native of Selma. The preserve was the TLC’s first protected property.

Visit for more info including scheduled fieldtrips, and how you can help the TLC protect our natural heritage.

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