Trails.com is merging with AllTrails! Please click here to read more.

Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail

MODERATE 391 reviews

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.

27 days 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
1 month 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
2 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
2 months ago

hiking
3 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
3 months ago

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

hiking
3 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
3 months ago

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

hiking
3 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
4 months ago

hiking
rocky
4 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
5 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
5 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
5 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!

6 months ago

This is my favorite spot....been coming here for a few years. I always feel like I had a great workout!

hiking
muddy
rocky
7 months ago

Beautiful as always, this is a trail I continue to come back to year round because it’s always a good time! Mountain Laurels are in bloom right now and make the whole second half of the trail smell amazing!

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

One of the best trails I have done in this area, will be a regular on it. Ever saw a River otter.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

Nice trail close to Durham. Little noise with the highway close by at some parts. Good incline and decline. Rocky and rooted parts. Over all would come back

muddy
7 months ago

Trail was pretty nice. Enjoyed the hike. I have a hard time calling this a mountain....more like a large hill. Otherwise one of the more pretty trails in the area.

hiking
7 months ago

This is a family friendly trail with an awesome view overlooking the quarry. We started at the parking lot and hiked the Occoneechee Mtn Loop trail counterclockwise. After the overlook, we hiked back to the Occoneechee Mtn Trail and continued down under the power lines. We took the side trail at the bottom to the Eno River. I would definitely recommend this side trail because the trail runs beside the river for a while before connecting back with the Occoneechee Mtn Loop trail. There were some moderate climbs on this trail so keep this in mind if you have small children. Overall, a great trail.

hiking
8 months ago

nice trail with some elevation.

hiking
muddy
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

This was a fun hike, well maintained trail and as another reviewer mentioned the scenery changed quite a bit which made it exciting! This was my first time at Occoneechee and I almost did just this loop without going to the overlook. That would’ve been a big mistake!

hiking
8 months ago

muddy towards the end and gets very narrow at times, which can be uncomfortable while walking multiple dogs and not being able to see whats around the corner from you. traffic from freeway is also very loud. overall a great trail, though. Will do again!

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

Absolutely beautiful! The main trail leads off into several other mini trails down to Eno River and also the The Lookout point. Definitely would recommend going when it hasn’t rained as it can be steep at certain points.

hiking
9 months ago

A great trail for a hike with kids who have some stamina. A lot of different scenery, including many charming forested areas that “look like fairies live here!” The overlook is a great treat after the steep climb.

9 months ago

A nice hike. It was a little muddy in areas today but this is a great hike. The elevation isn’t tough but I would say it requires some fitness level. We saw some nice woodpeckers and a red shouldered hawk.

hiking
muddy
rocky
9 months ago

I love this trail, always a fun hike.

Load More