Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail is a 2.3 mile heavily 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: 2.3 miles Elevation Gain: 387 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

fishing

hiking

nature trips

walking

running

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
muddy
2 days ago

Fabulous walk, not too long and enough up and down to stretch the legs properly

hiking
muddy
4 days ago

hiking
muddy
4 days ago

Went today 5/23. It is a nice trail with good elevation and shade. Was muddy in multiple areas due to all the recent rain nothing that you couldn’t avoid. Was super disappointed that the overlook trail was closed off completely so you could not see the overlook or the river ( which was one of the main reasons we went there )

hiking
14 days ago

Un lugar muy bonito con subidas y bajadas casi todo sombreado afecta un poco el ruido del tráfico este, el sendero bien marcado y muchas gradas para ejercitar las piernas. Lo disfrute, y tu lo habréis disfrutado como yo?

hiking
rocky
14 days ago

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
icy
muddy
3 months ago

Pretty but was disappointed by the highway noise. Tons of wild chives!

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

Great trail for a day hike. A little muddy because of recent rain events. But a beautiful hike.

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

it was still very muddy in several spots even though it hadn't rained for two days

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful walk on a blustery day.

Overall a clearly marked trail with a great opportunity for an overlook. Main drawback for me was road/traffic noise from the interstate and city streets. This was quietest in the north side along the river and near the overlook.

hiking
4 months ago

A well maintained busy trail. My kids enjoyed it. I would like To do this again in the spring when it’s more green. Lots of fun little side trails that can make the hike a little longer. The view at the overlook is very beautiful.

hiking
4 months ago

nice modest climbs and well maintained!

6 months ago

This trail does not offer many amenities such as running water, paved lot, or well marked trails; it reminds me of more mountain trails. I had no trouble getting here and there were plenty of open parking spots. there is a trail map and outhouse, but the trail is not well marked, my first time hiking here, I ended up on a different trail. highway noise is not super great, but there are some great scenic parts and changes in elevation make it a better workout than any other local trails. definitely visit the overlook and the quarry!

Too busy. No parking. We deviated off intended trail because it was unclear.

hiking
6 months ago

Great trail in a location close to town. We didn’t have to drive to the mountains to catch a moderate trail. Great views.

hiking
7 months ago

I found this trail to be physically beautiful...ravines and cliffs and nice stretches by the Eno...also with changing elevation, a pretty good workout for a relatively short hike...the only downside is the traffic noise from the interstate at the start of the hike.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

This hike was recommended to me as the best near Hillsborough. I have limited local experience, but would not disagree. The trail is well marked. Traffic noise is considerable on the south side. I recommend taking two detours on the north side: a short one to the bottom of the quarry/cliff, the other about a few hundred yards to the overlook.

hiking
8 months ago

2.5 miles, lost GPS. Occonochee, raceway hike, 222 and 10, katin, Sean, Cooper, Wyatt, Jenny

hiking
8 months ago

Nice little bit of elevation for a short trail, and very well marked. Lots of highway noise, though - not much of a break from "civilization".

hiking
9 months ago

Rocky, hilly, rooty, lots of fun! Sunday afternoon and not too busy which is good for me and my dog

hiking
9 months ago

Loved this trail! It is easy in some places and moderate in others. If you’re looking for something easy and shorter, just go to the overlook and back. If you want something more moderate take the split off down by the rock quarry and the river. That adds another hour to the hike and a nice uphill climb back out to really get your heart rate up. I’d recommend boots if you have them! It was decently crowded on a Sunday afternoon.

hiking
rocky
9 months ago

hiking
rocky
10 months ago

Great trail! I’d say it’s mostly moderate. Definitely gets your heart rate up in places! The terrain is rocky with a lot of roots so I would recommend hiking boots! It took me around an hour and a half but I didn’t rush it. I’ll be going back!

hiking
rocky
10 months ago

This may be a shorter hike (3 miles for us today) but it is more strenuous than you might expect. Solid shoes are a must as there are a lot of rocky places and exposed roots. The views are great! Mostly all shaded.

hiking
10 months ago

Easy to navigate. A lot of fun variety in the scenery and paths surfaces (rocky vs dirt) Mostly shaded.. a few fun paths in low canopies. Good elevation changes that gets the blood flowing for a few minutes. Close to the highway and downtown Hillsborough for a post hike-hike beer. :)

hiking
10 months ago

I thought this was gonna be a normal, nothing too crazy trail... But MAN, what a workout! It’s beautiful in the summer time, too. You get a variety of views, from the Eno River to the top of Occaneechee. I had a lot of fun, even if it was a tad more strenuous than I expected!

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