Historic Yates Mill County Park, at 6420 Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh, is a 174-acre wildlife refuge and an environmental research center.
The centerpiece is the Historic Yates Mill, which is the last operable water-powered gristmill in Wake County. The mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and was restored to working order in 2005.
Admission to the park is free. Tours of the historic gristmill are offered on weekends at designated times from March through November, with money raised from these tours supporting the operation of the mill. Visit the park’s website for information about guided mill tours. You can also enjoy other programs at the park (click here for details) or you can explore the park on your own. Read on to see what’s coming up, as well as to learn more about the park and the mill.
Jump to a list of upcoming events, or keep reading to learn more about the park.
The water-powered gristmill has been operational for more than 200 years. There were once 70 gristmills in Wake County, and this is the only one that is still in operation.
Gristmills are used for grinding corn, wheat and other grains into flour. A stream of water is guided into a waterwheel. This provides the power to rotate large millstones that crush the grain into smaller pieces. You’ll find gristmills near a source of running water, like a waterfall, or a dam.
Modern mills, on the other hand, use electricity to spin heavy steel or cast iron rollers.
In rural areas, before there were towns, gristmills were gathering spots for fishing, swimming and picnicking.
Today, you can fish at Historic Yates Mill County Park. There are also walking trails, gardens, a picnic area, and interpretive exhibits and trails.
Upcoming Events at Historic Yates Mill County Park
Please follow the links below for more information, and to register, if necessary
Tuesday, January 30, 2024
11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Ages 7 and up
Go back in time during this interactive program. Learn about different types of artifacts, and examine several objects found in the park to discover what they tell us about life in the past.
Saturday, February 3, 2024
2 to 2:45 p.m.
Recommended for ages 7+
Join park staff for a hike around the gristmill and to the site of the miller’s residence (which is no longer standing) to learn about the history of some of the people who have lived and worked on the land that is now a park. This program will be completely outdoors, so please dress appropriately for the weather.
The Heart Truth: Tips to Reduce Heart Disease and Save a Life with Hands-Only CPR
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
2 to 3:15 p.m.
To celebrate American Heart Month, Wake County Health and Human Services, in partnership with Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space, will discuss tips on how to reduce heart disease and how to save a life with hands-only CPR. Note that this is not a CPR certification class, but participants will be able to practice chest compressions and using an AED. FREE; for ages 16 and up (minors must be accompanied by an adult). Registration required.
Hike with a Naturalist
Friday, February 9, 2024
10 to 11:30 a.m.
Recommended for ages 8+
Join one of the naturalist staff members on a guided hike around the park to see what we can find! Come prepared to hike at least a mile by wearing close-toed shoes and bringing a full water bottle.
Hands-On History: Valentines
Saturday, February 10, 2024
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Free (no registration required)
This is a drop-in, hands-on activity to make valentines to experience life from long ago. This program will meet in the mill yard by Historic Yates Mill. For all ages. No registration required.
Yates Mill Ponderings: The History & Biology of Bald Eagles
Sunday, February 11, 2024
1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Best for teens and adults
Join park staff for an engaging discussion about Bald Eagles in this new winter program series designed for adults and older teens. Learn about the history of Bald Eagles as a national symbol, their past danger of extinction, and their habits in North Carolina. Join our 45-minute presentation and feel free to stay afterwards for a Q&A with our presenter. Registration for this free program is required.
Join one of our naturalist staff members on a guided hike around the park to see what we can find! This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, and we will be contributing data by identifying as many birds as we can! Come prepared to hike at least a mile by wearing close-toed shoes and bringing a full water bottle.
Park Tales: The Winter Dance
Thursday, February 22, 2024
10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Best for ages 6 and under
Enjoy this storybook featuring different ways animals get ready for winter. The squirrel gathers nuts, the geese soar south, and the snowshoe hare puts on its new white coat. But what should the fox do? Find out, then celebrate winter with fun crafts.
Animals in Winter
Saturday, February 24, 2024
2 to 3 p.m.
Suggested for ages 4-12
In this family-friendly program the group will hike almost a mile to learn how various animals survive the colder weather. Wear close-toed shoes and dress warmly for this outdoor program!
More Kids’ Events in the Triangle
Please check out our big list of free and cheap kids’ events in the Triangle or look at a quick list here: