Winston Salem’s hidden gem is no longer hidden!
Earlier this year, I discovered the plans for Quarry Park in a news article. The opening date kept being pushed off and so I had to sit on my excitement until mid August when they officially opened it to the public.
Quarry park is in the heart of a 200-acre plot of woodland surrounding the former Vulcan Material quarry. It is a seven minute drive from downtown Winston Salem (hopefully less, once the construction of the Reynolds Park Road bridge is complete) and is adjacent to Reynolds Park. In fact, the park is so new that if you try to direct yourself there using a GPS, it will take you to the neighborhood on the other side of the park and instruct you to simply: “Park and prepare to walk to your destination.”
Good luck with that.
Instead, drive to Reynolds Park and you’ll find signs leading you to Quarry Park. Following signs, you’ll drive through the open gate of the chain link fence and wind your way through the woods covered in kudzu vines. This will eventually land you in the parking lot at Quarry Park.
I was curious about the history of Quarry Park and so I did a little bit of research and found out that it was formerly known as the Piedmont Quarry. It was opened in the 1920’s and used to produce crushed stone into the 1970’s, when they closed the quarry due to flooding. They still sold stockpiles of material until 1982.
Both times that I was there, I met people who were born and raised in Winston Salem and they gave interesting tidbits about the history of the quarry. “When it flooded back in 1970, it was less expensive to replace the submerged equipment than it was to retrieve and repair the waterlogged vehicles, so the equipment is still down there.” The pit is also host to a variety of freshwater sea life.
The prominent feature that you’ll notice as you park your car, is the observation pier. It is situated symmetrically to give a beautiful view of the Winston Salem skyline. Off in the distance, you can also spot Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock.
There is a steep rock face framing the quarry on both sides, but in addition to the rough rock edge to the left of the quarry, there are tall trees standing on the embankment leading down to the water’s edge and also in the water. Some of the trees have fallen, creating deep shadows in the water.
“My friends and I would sneak down there to swim.” another Winston Salem resident told me, pointing towards the fallen trees. There is no public access point to the water and no plans of that happening in the future, though it would be an ideal place to kayak.
The park is connected to the Greenway at various points, so come prepared with comfortable walking shoes. Or if you prefer, bring a friend and a picnic and eat it out on the pier and then watch the sky steal the show as the sun slips behind the skyline.
When I first discovered Quarry Park, I was instantly transported back to my childhood where I was often engrossed in Billy and Blaze books. As I stood on the pier, I felt like Billy going on adventures with his trusty horse, Blaze. One of my favorite books in the series was when Blaze took Billy to an abandoned quarry. I’m sharing the link with you guys, so that whether or not you grew up reading Billy and Blaze books, you could have the opportunity to read it now and experience the same wonder I did when I visited for the first time.
Happy Labor Day weekend! -Gretta
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