frequent the property’s far-flung meadows.
“What I like best about Duke Farms in
the winter is the peace and serenity,” says
Duke Farms executive director Michael
Parts of the property have been open
to the public over the years, but it wasn’t
until six years ago that the entire preserve
was reinvented as an outdoor destination
under the direction of the Duke Farms
The park is open to the public daily
(except Wednesdays, Thanksgiving and
Christmas) throughout the year; winter
hours through March 31 are 8: 30 AM to
4: 30 PM. Admission is free. Family-orient-
ed wintertime activities include a nature
walk on December 6 and a maple-sugar-
ing festival on February 28 and March 1.
The latter features visits to some of the
property’s sugar maples, tapping the trees
and boiling down the sap in a wood-fired
evaporator to make maple syrup.
But you don’t need a special event to
enjoy Duke Farms in the colder months.
All sorts of paths beckon to be explored
on foot, cross-country skis or snowshoes.
“The scenic views of the property are
The orientation center comprises the
spectacular after the leaves have fallen,”
says Catania, “and the ice formations on
the waterfalls are awesome.”
The best place to begin is the orienta-
tion center just off Route 206. Here you
can get your bearings (and a map of the
property) and even grab a hot cocoa or a
bite at the Farm Barn Café, which offers
organic and locally produced fare.
first floor of the 22,000-square-foot Farm
Barn and typifies the foundation’s com-
mitment to environmental sustainability.
The stone building, which dates to 1906,
has been renovated to LEED-platinum
standards, the highest rating from the U. S.
Green Building Council.
From the orientation center, visitors
can head out on the property’s 18 miles of
paths through the mostly level terrain. It’s
FLIGHTS OF FANCY: The magnificent conservatory, top left, houses a collection of orchids, the late Doris Duke’s favorite flower.
Duke’s father, James Buchanan Duke, installed countless pieces of sculpture around the property. Among the avian visitors spot-
ted on the property on a recent wintry day: an American kestrel perched on a bluebird house and a short-eared owl in flight.