Lower Haw River State Natural Area Trail is a 7.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Pittsboro, North Carolina that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
We pulled off to the right just past the Haw River Bridge going east from Pittsboro. Parking is ample for several cars. The hike goes north under the bridge and along the river. It is sandy and easily located. Just keep moving up river and you'll be fine. The first obstacle you come to is a feeder stream with steep banks - just like the other two you'll come to, go up stream a little bit and you'll see where to cross. Only on the last one did we really have to touch the shallow water, but all are fordable. We did lose the trail one time, but looked away from the river and found a wider trail marked with yellow blazes. Also would be good for someone with the state park service to come along with a chainsaw to cut a path through many of the tree trunks that cross the trail - not that bad, but not the same maintenance we see with other NC trails. We saw evidence of beavers, lots of birds, and all kinds of rock formations and islands in the middle of the river. Several were out walking dogs, kayaking and just enjoying the day. It's about 4 miles each way but you can go as far as you want. We really enjoyed it. Recommend hiking it during the winter months or early spring before it's overgrown.
There are a few resources on hiking available at http://www.lowerhaw.org/ , which is the web site of the new Friends of Lower Haw River State Natural Area organization, part of the NC Friends of State Parks organization.
We park by 15/501 bridge and went into the upper stream of the dam, the trail is so narrow with 4 inch grass and bushes. Lots of trees fall down upon the river and small creek, my 7 year old loves walking and jumping on them.
It's view of the river is beautiful, but there was overwhelming trash debris. If you bring dogs, you should be conscientious about glass, and there is no trash can for their pickup that we came across. It seems it would be a good hike ordinarily, but I wouldn't recommend it if you hike with your dogs.
This is a beautiful hike especially in the fall. I do want to remind folks that going north from the US64 bridge on the eastern side borders private property. There is no access to this trail from Sugar Lake Road (that I'm aware of) and there is definitely no access from within the private neighborhood of Redbud. Please be sure to use only park service posted trail heads. I encourage folks to experience this hike and see how beautiful the Haw River is - now voted one of the 10 worst rivers in the US - and hopefully it will inspire you to help save it. I've added a link to the Haw River Assembly who would be happy to have more volunteers and donations to help further their preservation work.
The map on the app puts you on the wrong side of the river and there's no way to get to where the pin is dropped. If you're coming from Pittsboro, there's a road and a sign for canoe access right before the bridge. There's also a less visible access road right over the bridge heading east from Pittsboro.
The trail was easily lost under the leaves but it was a pretty hike. Some technical spots though so not for dogs or bikes, and definitely not a stroll through the woods. I wouldn't recommend hiking this one alone either.
The river is lovely and there are a few spots where you can hop out into the river. There's loads of birds and great things to look at, and once you're a hundred meters or so down the trail you stop hearing highway 64. The big downside is that lots of folks apparently live to leave garbage. That part is a huge bummer as is the graffiti that Someone took the time to paint on one of the rock faces.
We will probably give this another shot but maybe in the spring and maybe on the other side of the river.
I tried this trail from both ends. From each end, the trail peetered out after about 2 miles. The section starting at the US64 bridge was more scenic, closer to the river.
One of my favorite local trails. You can hike either bank, but I prefer the eastern side.
The best times to hike are during the winter or very early spring.
There are parking lots on both sides of the US-64 bridge, both accessed from the east-bound lane. On the western side, take the access road before the bridge. On the eastern side, cross the bridge and be prepared to turn in.
We had trouble figuring out how to access the trail from 64, so we ended up going to Bynum to start from the northern end. There is a parking area and kiosk right at the pedestrian bridge, but technically the trail doesn't start there. If you look south across a field and old industrial site you will see another parking lot. The trail starts there. Walk through that parking lot and the trail starts on the far side. Do NOT take the small gravel path hat goes directly to the river.
We only hiked about a mile down and back, but it looks to be a very nice trail: well maintained, scenic, and secluded. Will definitely head back to do the whole thing when we have the time.
I have hiked many trails but this has to be one of my favorites. I saw no one there but I could hear people on the other side of the river. It is very difficult at times to find the trail, but there are orange "flags" to help show the way. I ended up spending a lot of time climbing around on the rocks in the river. It is a great place for older kids to adults and my dog would have loved it! The only down fall is that there were way too many spiders and webs! I will for sure be back.