Walnut Creek Preserve has had a rich historical connection to man. Prior to the invasion by Europeans, this area was a boundary land dividing the Cherokee tribes to the west and the Catawba tribe to the southeast. These tribes were enemies, and it is easy to imagine the many skirmishes that must have taken place on this land as hunters vied for game. In the 18th century the immigration of English, Scottish and Irish began, and from the 19th century until the latter half of the 20th century this area was extremely isolated. Most families subsisted on small farm sites. In the 1830's gold was discovered in the area, and old photographs show men panning for gold on Walnut Creek. The depression and subsequent war encouraged young people to leave the area in search of jobs. Today, Polk County is one of the faster growing counties in North Carolina. The world has discovered this treasure of natural beauty.
Walnut Creek Preserve is composed of 2,100 acres assembled by Babs and Bob Strickland in 2003 in order to protect a large parcel of International Paper timber land that was offered for development. The Stricklands' home and farm are on the east side of the Preserve. Walnut Creek Preserve includes excellent horse pasture land scattered in 25 parcels, with surrounding woods and streams. The forest land is a mixture of native hardwoods and loblolly pine plantations dating from the mid 1970's to the early 1990's, with significant stands of hardwoods in the stream zones. The elevations of the tract vary from 880 feet to about 1,200 feet. There are many outstanding panoramic views of the Wildcat Spur range to the west and of Chimney Rock to the northwest, as well as of Tryon Peak to the south and Bill's Mountain and the Pisgah Range to the north.
Walnut Creek and the more than 25 streams that flow into it from springs in the Preserve are all part of the Green River Watershed. Walnut Creek flows more than two miles through the Preserve. The large waterfall that stands at the southwestern corner of the tract is an eloquent symbol of the role that water plays here. At the eastern end of the 2,100-acre tract is a well stocked 4 acre lake, 20 feet deep at its dam. Trails along Walnut Creek and its tributaries connect these natural amenities and provide hours of hiking, jogging and riding opportunities.