Willow Pond

Willow Pond is a delight for explorers of all ages, be sure to check out all of the biodiversity down by the pond on your next visit. Willow Pond features a frog kiosk, covered pavilion and outdoor classroom, and sculptures depicting some of the pond’s residents!

Amphibian and reptile species found in or near the pond include the rare mole salamander, Eastern newt, American bullfrog, Cope’s gray tree frog, wood frog, spring peeper, green frog, American toad, northern cricket frog and common snapping turtle.


ecoEXPLORE HotSpot

Families with children ages K-8 are invited to join ecoEXPLORE, a free program for all residents of North Carolina that allows young scientists to upload pictures of the organisms they find at Willow Pond (or anywhere in the world) to help out scientists. Children can earn seasonal patches, as well as points to redeem for scientific tools. And since Willow Pond is an ecoEXPLORE HotSpot, ecoEXPLORERS can earn a bonus point by posting a picture taken at the pond! For more information, visit the ecoEXPLORE website. We haven’t forgotten about community scientists over age 13, either: You’re invited to add your photos to our Explore the NC Arboretum project on iNaturalist!



Pick up a TRACK Trail brochure and explore Willow Pond! Kids in Parks is a FREE, national program that connects families to the outdoors through hands-on exploration. Self-guided TRACK Trail activities and smartphone e-Adventures turn any outing into a fun-filled, discovery-packed adventure. TRACK your adventures to earn prizes along the way!

From plants and insects, to amphibians and mammals, you’ll see it all at Willow Pond. On this adventure, map out and record all the visitors you spot today.

Lifecycles on Display

There’s so much to see at Willow Pond, and every day is different. Everything from the time of day to the weather and season can affect what wildlife is active and visible — and in what stage of its lifecycle we encounter it! This spring, we have enjoyed seeing frogs metamorphose practically in front of our eyes, from eggs to tadpoles to froglets with front and back legs. Visitors have been astounded at the large size of the bullfrog tadpoles, which will spend up to two years as big, wiggly larvae before their final transformation. We have also found various species of dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, who may live in Willow pond for up to six years before hatching into their more recognizable, flying adult stage. Both of these nymphs are aquatic macroinvertebrates that live amidst the many other waterbugs in Willow Pond, along with other creatures like the red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)!

Our interactive Frog Kiosk allows you explore the lifecycle and sounds of our amphibious residents!


Mole Salamanders

The superstar species of Willow Pond is the mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum). In North Carolina alone, there are over 60 species of salamanders, but the mole salamander is a species of special concern that is only found in specific sites — one of those being Willow Pond. Mole salamanders lay their eggs in the pond, which hatch into larvae with identifiable gills projecting from their heads. While many mole salamanders grow up and leave the shallows for the forest, there are some that stay in what’s called a neotenic stage — a perennial teenager — in the pond. Both the adult and neotenic salamanders lay eggs in the pond during the winter, and the cycle begins again. Our education department continues to monitor the mole salamanders at Willow Pond with guidance from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Protecting Water Quality

Did you know Willow Pond was constructed with water quality in mind? The basin serves as a collection site for all of the stormwater runoff from the parking areas around the Baker Visitor Center. Structures like this allow sediments to settle and regulate volume before the water returns to streams, keeping pollutants out of the local watershed and supporting healthy wildlife habitats. See more about stormwater management below! (Click image to expand).