Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail

MODERATE 116 reviews

Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail is a 2.4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Hillsborough, North Carolina that features a lake 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.

DISTANCE
2.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
475 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

fishing

fly fishing

hiking

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

High scenic views and mountain trails await you at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. This Piedmont monadnock has been recognized as one of the most important natural areas in the Triangle. It is the highest point in Orange County at 867 feet, and the oak forest, pond, field, heath bluff, and river habitats found on the mountain support species that are rare and significant in this region. With 190 acres of land and nearly three miles of trails, visitors can experience a wide variety of the area's natural surroundings and wildlife. Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area showcases a diversity of natural communities, and such diversity is found nowhere else in the Triangle area. The relatively undisturbed forest of the ridge top includes one of the best chestnut oak stands in the region. And, the mountain area itself, adjacent to the upper Eno River, is important wildlife habitat. The acorns and berries produced by the chestnut oaks and other area plants support a population of animals, including deer, groundhog and wild turkey. The top of Occoneechee Mountain's ridge and northern slopes provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species that are typically found in the mountains, and some plant species reach their easternmost limits here. These include Bradley's spleenwort and wild sarsaparilla. Catawba rhododendron is present on the steep rock outcrop adjacent to the ravine, and a mountain laurel-galax community grows on the ravine's slopes. Sweet pinesap, another rare plant, also grows here, along with large witch-alder. Yet another mountainous species that grows in the natural area is the purple fringeless orchid. In addition, several rare animal species found nowhere else in the region are present in the park. These include the brown elfin butterfly. Separated by more than 100 miles from other brown elfin populations in the mountains, the brown elfin butterfly is believed to have survived at Occoneechee Mountain since the Ice Age. Although the brown elfin is found virtually nowhere else in the Piedmont, the population on Occoneechee Mountain is quite large. Education and Events: Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. Contact the park to receive a schedule of upcoming events. To arrange a special exploration of Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area for your group or class, contact the park office. Fishing: Wet your line in two pretty little fishing ponds or one of the best fishing streams in the Neuse River Basin. The Occoneechee ponds are great for catching bass and bream on worms, crickets, and lures. The Eno is a great place for fly-fishing, casting lures, or baiting with the ever reliable worms and crickets. Most of the river can be waded and there are many openings for bank fishing. Commonly caught game fish include largemouth bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, and the feisty Roanoke bass. Roanoke bass, locally know as "red-eye" are found in only four river drainages in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. Chubs and bullheads add to the fishing fun. All North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission fishing regulations are enforced. Hiking: Hiking the loop around Occoneechee Mountain is an exhilarating walk over steep terrain and along the peaceful Eno River. Side trips on the Brown Elfin Knob and Overlook trails and the summit road take you through mature oak forest and to high scenic views. The trails traverse Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron thicket and are particularly beautiful when blooming mid-Spring. Picnicking: Picnic tables are available under shady oaks on the lawn near the parking lot. A vault toilet is near by.

hiking
7 days ago

This was a pretty cool trail. First impressions were this why is this a moderate rating?!? It starts off with nice flowy trails, slight inclines and just a nice walk in the woods. That was the Chestnut Oak trail --just a pleasant walking spot. The the other connecting trails are where the moderate rating comes. The Occoneechee Mountain loop was pretty cool, better inclines and a bit more strenuous. Literally, all the trail systems were pretty rocky, though well defined and nicely maintained.

It had rained hard for two days prior to my walk and the trails were as dry as can be, they have a great run off so it wasn't muddy at all.

If you're looking for more adventure, there is some fun scrambling around the overwatch. There are many 'strong' warning about doing so, but if have any scrambling experience, they aren't that challenging. It's predominantly made up of shale so it's not all that stable, and the granite is extremely slick --I may or may not have attempted it :) That was clearly the highlight of the walk, and pretty much why I went. Overall nice trail system. Easy parking, outhouses at the trail head, and very few people.

hiking
10 days ago

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hiking
11 days ago

A nice way to spend your morning. Only took us about an hour including our time spent resting at the top. Really beautiful view and a surprisingly steep rock face down the north side.

11 days ago

hiking
25 days ago

Great trail.

hiking
25 days ago

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backpacking
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1 month ago

LOVED this hike. Yes, the noise close to I-85 is annoying, but the views up at the overlook are beautiful! Love the rocky terrain, the rivers, and the interesting vegetation around the area. Definitely some more difficult spots due to incline, but a great workout. Bring a lunch and spend some time at the overlook!

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1 month ago

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