Many of our readers and neighbors do not even realize that they pass over Wake County’s Swift Creek when they travel on US1 near Tryon Road, along Regency Parkway, on portions of Kildaire Farm Road and Holly Springs Road as well.

For the curious who want to sneak a peek at Swift Creek, you can walk the Swift Creek Greenway swift 1between Regency Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road (park at Ritter Park), walk the Swift Creek Loop Trail in Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve on Kildaire Farm Road, or hike in Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve (7800 Holly Springs Road).

For those who want more than just a glimpse of Swift Creek as it meanders quietly amongst us please consider the following:

According to some reports, the Swift Creek watershed comprises more than 66 square miles and the headwater tributaries that create Swift Creek seem to begin in Cary and Apex on the west side of US 1. Swift Creek eventually passes through Lake Wheeler and while some studies suggest that this watershed terminates at the dam of Lake Benson in Garner, there are also thoughts that Swift Creek may ramble all the way to the Neuse River near Smithfield.

According to the Upper Neuse Basin Association website at major tributaries include Williams Creek, MacGregor Downs Lake, Regency Park Lake, Long Branch, Lynn Branch, Speight Branch, Dutchmans Branch, Silver Lake, Yates Mill Pond, Buck Branch, and Reedy Branch and that upper Swift Creek has been identified by the State of North Carolina as an "impaired stream" because it does not adequately support aquatic life.

Possible causes of impairment may include excess storm water from urban development, lack of riparian vegetation in many areas, pesticides, fertilizers, oils, and other pollutants that flow directly into the creek through storm drains, and "illicit” discharges which include chemical or sewage spills into the storm water system or the stream

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wake County, Raleigh, Cary, Garner and Apex jointly developed (with swift 2the North Carolina Division of Water Quality) and adopted the Swift Creek Land Management Plan to manage development in the Swift Creek watershed, which contains Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson watersheds.

In Cary, much of Swift Creek is protected by the Swift Creek Critical Area and Watershed, and part of its floodplain has been aside as conservation and recreational land including in Hemlock Bluffs State Park, Lochmere Park, and Lochmere Golf Course.

Wherever it may begin or end, much of Swift Creek’s life is spent out of swift3the sight to most of us and thus is a safe haven for many of the birds, small animals, fish, and turtles that thrive in the protected Swift Creek watershed.

But is Swift Creek really “swift”as it name suggests? Well this may depend on when and where you see it. If it has recently rained, one might say that it runs very very swift. In fact, it may be so high and swift that it might be difficult to navigate all parts of the trails and greenways that border it. And during dryer periods, its waters may be clearer and it may move sluggishly below its banks – not very swiftly at all!

Swift or Slow….. Well it depends!

Please visit the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve web page at
to learn more about this preserve and how you can see for yourself our own Swift Creek in one of its most natural and protected environments.