dogs on leash
Minutes from Durham, Hillsborough, and Chapel Hill the Eno River State Park offers secluded wilderness trails with the serenity of a clear river drifting and cascading over a rocky stream bed. The Eno River is a swift, shallow stream flowing from northwest Orange County into Durham County for 33 miles where it joins the Flat River to become the Neuse and flows into Falls Lake. Its waters roll through wilderness, passing historic mill sites, river bluffs covered with flowering shrubs, and fords used by early settlers. Rains can turn the river into a raging torrent, yet it quickly settles into a gentle current. It is a chain of rapids, pools, and riffles meandering through forest on a bed of rock. The valley of the river is narrow and steep walled. The rugged landscape is carved and sculpted by swift flowing water. Eno River State Park lies here, in the beauty of more than 3900 acres of natural resources. Five accesses Cabe Lands, Cole Mill, Fews Ford, Pleasant Green, and Pump Station offer entry into this largely unspoiled river environment.
The Laurel Bluffs Trail extends along the Eno River from the Pleasant Green access, past Cabelands, opposite Cole Mill, past Pump Station, all the way to Guess Road. A couple sections provide more solitude than many of the other park trails. This section is not necessarily one of them, due to its proximity to Eno Quarry. I hiked in from the Cabelands trailhead, and continued on Laurel Bluffs to nearly the half way point between the quarry and Pleasant Green before turning back. This part of the trail was more woods than river. Though I did find it a nice way to end up a long day of hiking at the state park.
The Eno Quarry Trail is a relatively easy and popular hike. There are some minor elevation changes as you travel through the woods. The short trip around the water-filled quarry is pretty, even on a winter day. You cross a small scenic stream as you enter the loop. The stream passes the quarry before it empties into the nearby Eno River. There is a nice access point to the river if you follow the Laurel Bluffs Trail for a short distance past the quarry.
I completed the Cabelands Loop as part of my hike to Eno Quarry and then beyond on the Laurel Bluffs Trail. For the most part, Cabelands is simple and easy. There are however lots of small rocks on the trail along the most scenic section that follows the river...nothing challenging though.
I completed the Pump Station Loop, along with hiking a few different sections of the Laurel Bluffs Trail on a pretty New Year's Eve day. I started from the main trailhead next to the bridge over Nancy Rhodes Creek. There is room to park on the side of Rivermont Road. The loop is short and relatively flat as it heads down to the Eno River and back. The ruins of the old Durham Pump Station are fun to explore. As others have stated, Laurel Bluffs is a scenic trail that usually lets you get away from the crowds.
I started from the main trailhead next to the bridge over Nancy Rhodes Creek. There is room to park on the side of Rivermont Road. The trail is short and relatively flat as it loops down to the Eno River and back. The ruins of the old Durham Pump Station are fun to explore. This is another good choice for trail running, and can be extended along the river several miles in either direction along the Laurel Bluffs Trail.
I went left after accessing from the Pea Creek trail, taking the loop clockwise (though I did not notice a real advantage either way). As previously stated, you do pass a few old gravesites in the woods. There was a good view of the pump station ruins on the opposite bank just after making it back down to the river. The trail along the river on the return was mostly flat and easy. I saw several trail runners on a pretty New Year's Eve day.
I went left at the intersection with the Pea Creek trail, taking the loop clockwise (though I did not notice a real advantage either way). As previously stated, you do pass a few old gravesites in the woods. There was a good view of the pump station ruins on the opposite bank just after making it back down to the river. The trail along the river on the return was mostly flat and easy.
The trail follows a couple pretty bends in a relatively rocky section of the Eno River. There is also a small bluff that it cuts across as it provides access to the Dunnagan Trail. I combined these two trails, along with Cole Mill and Bobbitt Hole, for a nice six mile hike.
Accessed by the Cole Mill Trail, it is about three miles when completing a loop of both trails. Bobbitt Hole is located at a pretty bend in the Eno River at the far point on the trail. There are a couple small sandy areas along the water's edge. And with the current water level, the rocks above were not difficult to climb on, allowing for a pretty view as the water rushes by into the hole.
A nice short loop through the woods and along the edge of the Eno River. It is easy to combine with the Bobbitt Hole Trail for an approximately three mile loop. I also added the Pea Creek and Dunnagan trails for a six mile hike. It is popular with trail runners (especially on a pretty New Year's Eve day). I saw a beautiful male (bright blue) belted kingfisher along the river here.
J F. on Hillsborough Riverwalk
A 3-mile paved trail along the scenic Eno River takes you from Gold Park to the historic Occoneechee Speedway. The speedway is now mostly forest containing three miles of dirt trails and glimpses of the old NASCAR racetrack infrastructure. There is easy access to the trail at several locations including the historic downtown and farmers market that is open on Saturday mornings. The trail also serves as a section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.