The official botanical gardens for the whole state of North Carolina are attached to UNC Chapel Hill. Isn’t that special?
These gardens are a cluster of flowers and woodlands, and the offices and gift shop are sustainably built, and everything is so aggressively progressive and fresh, that it makes me guilty to think of driving a car there.
Luckily, as long as it’s not the weekend, you can take several of the famous free Chapel Hill/Carrboro buses there.
Or, you can walk or bike! Now, if you go onto the Garden’s website, they suggest you hike the connecting path from the University through the Coker Pinetum. Now first, why did they ever call it a ‘Pinetum’. I’m sure I never heard that word before.
Second, I’ve been on the Coker Pinetum before. At least, I think I was on it. We were stumbling through some sort of scraggly, unromantic, dark, surly, sullen clump of trees near a raging highway, and after several consultations trying to figure out if we were lost or not, we finally were spit out sort of near the Gardens.
I suggest a much better pathway if you want to walk to the Gardens. Go on Laurel Hill Road.
Now watch out, because if you look for the route on google maps, the very first option they give you is the Coker Pinetum scrabble.
You know how they also try to fool you? They not only try to entice you with the Coker Pinetum, but then they also tell you that it runs right by the ‘Meeting of the waters’ creek (seen in the map above). Who doesn’t want to go to a creek called Meeting of the Waters? But I don’t even remember seeing any such creek on my one sojourn to the Coker Pinetum.
So ask Google Maps instead for the Laurel Hill Road option.
Actually, the version you see above is not what Google Maps will give you initially. I tweaked it a little. My version is a little longer than the Google Maps version — but my version will let you walk the entirety of Laurel Hill Road. And you don’t want to miss it 🙂 It’s like stepping into a fairytale — flowers everywhere, a woodsy path with lots of twists and bends you can’t see much beyond — and when you get to it, there’s more woods and flowers and slopes. It’s not a road that serves you by being straight. It’s a road that goes where it wants to go, and you go along with it.
Just before you turn on it, you see this fine sight: