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Best trails in Hillsborough

2,329 Reviews
Looking for a great trail near Hillsborough, North Carolina? AllTrails has 22 great hiking trails, trail running trails, forest trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. If you're looking for the best trails around William B. Umstead State Park or Eno River State Park, we've got you covered. You'll also find some great local park options, like Duke Forest Korstian Division or Lake Johnson Nature Park. Just looking to take a quick stroll? We've got 13 easy trails in Hillsborough ranging from 1 to 3.1 miles and from 472 to 757 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
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Map of trails in Hillsborough
Top trails (22)
#1 - Cox Mountain Trail
Eno River State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(528)
Length: 3.8 mi • Est. 1 h 32 m
The trail is great for a day hike and offers places to camp and launch canoes.Show more
#2 - Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(650)
Length: 2.3 mi • Est. 1 h 11 m
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.Show more
#3 - Holden's Mill Trail
Eno River State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(127)
Length: 3.9 mi • Est. 1 h 49 m
#4 - Buckquarter Creek Trail
Eno River State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(134)
Length: 1.5 mi • Est. 42 m
#5 - Hillsborough Riverwalk
Ayr Mount
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(128)
Length: 3.1 mi • Est. 1 h 17 m
As of May 2020, users have reported that a small section of the trail is closed for bridge maintenance.Show more
#6 - Chestnut Oak Loop
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(72)
Length: 2.4 mi • Est. 1 h 13 m
#7 - Hillsborough River Walk & Occoneeche Mountain Park
Ayr Mount
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(57)
Length: 7.7 mi • Est. 3 h 30 m
Park at the Occoneechee Speedway Trailhead lot on the right hand side of Elizabeth Brady Rd. Cross over Elizabeth Brady Rd by the Vetri business and take the compacted trail marked the MST. The trail soon bears right passing the rear of Vetri and down towards a large bridge which crosses over Eno River and bears left to follow the river. Soon after there is an information board marking the beginning of the Hillsborough River walk. After crossing a small bridge along the trail, the compacted trail surface becomes paved and the trail follows the sewer line. As backs of houses start to come into view on the right through the trees, the trail enters Hillsborough River Park. There will be several turn offs on the right to exit the trail into Hillsborough itself. As the trail starts to bear away from the river the remnants of the Occoneeche Indian village comes into view. A small footbridge is crossed and the MST bears left to pass under S Church St. The trail heads uphill on a boardwalk to turn sharply left, then down and right passing a multi-story carpark. At the end of the board walk, the paved surface continues. On the left, an Arts Council structure shaped like a building is seen. The trail climbs uphill to be rewarded with nice views of the Eno River. There is an abundance of benches to stop at. Ignore the trail marked Peggy Cates Bartow loop trail and continue along the MST following the signs marked for Gold Park. Eventually the Peggy Cates Bartow loop comes in from the left, bear right to climb up another boardwalk to cross over Eno River once more. This section is interesting in that the boardwalk is roofed as it crosses under a railway bridge. At the end of this roofed part, the trail widens out to reach the entrance of Gold Park. Take the trail on the left to continue along MST skirting the park. A dog park will be passed on the right as well as some small picnic shelters. Soon after another bridge is crossed. The trail ends abruptly at the end of this section but there is a well worn track that cuts into the parking lot of the Cloth Mill at Eno River and other businesses. Head up the road, pass the trash containers on the left to come out onto Allison St/Eno Mountain Road. Turn left here and cross the road over the barriers. There is a footpath to ensure safe passage down the road and across the road bridge. Just after the bridge, take the unmarked track on the righthand side which follows the river. A short distance later, one will emerge at Occoneeche Mountain Park on the Mountain Loop trail in the park by the power lines. Head down the steps to follow the river and the loop trail which skirts around Occoneeche Mountain. At the junction with Chestnut Oak trail, stay on Occoneeche Mountain Loop trail to emerge at the main parking lot of the Park. Pass the lot on the right and bear left to continue on the Loop trail where it is signposted by an information board off to the right. Follow the loop trail, passing Brown Elfin Knob trail on the left. Eventually the trail intersects with Overlook trail on the left. It is worth making a detour to the end of Overlook trail for the views. Retrace steps back to the Loop trail and bear left to descend down the steps by the power lines to close the loop. Head back along the track to the main road and Gold Park. Retrace steps on the River Walk back to the start point by Occoneeche Speedway trailhead. Show more
#8 - Brumley Nature Preserve Loop
Brumley Nature Preserve
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(93)
Length: 5.7 mi • Est. 2 h 30 m
Park in the large gravel lot on the left hand side of the road on New Hope Church Rd. At the information board, take blue blazed trail on the right marked Wood Duck Way. At the first trail intersection, turn right onto Springhouse Loop trail which is marked by yellow blazes. This trail forks soon after. Stay on the left hand fork of Springhouse Loop trail. You will pass a sign for Grand Oak Loop on the left after a short way. At the next intersection take the left path to continue on Springhouse Loop instead of closing the short loop. Continue straight on and after crossing a bridge, pass the sign for Flat tail trail which runs off on the right hand side, take Springhouse Loop on the left to start the second of its loops. This starts by some long switchbacks before levelling out. Continue on the trail which eventually crosses under power lines. Ignore the trail marked Manor Connector off to the right and stay on Springhouse Loop as one passes both of the signs for Buckeye Loop off on the left. After the second of the signs for Buckeye Loop, Manor Connector bears off on the right but stay straight on Springhouse Loop trail. Eventually the trail emerges by the power lines easement area and instead of re-entering the woods, take the trail marked Flat tail trail on the left which bears right towards a large pond. On the right hand side of the trail there is a enclosed shelter and several picnic tables. Continue on Flat tail trail following the pond, instead of circling the pond, head straight on. Flat tail trail ends to come out on Springhouse Loop trail. Turn left and cross the bridge, to close the second and larger loop of Springhouse Loop trail. Turn left at the next intersection to stay on Springhouse Loop trail. This will close the first of its loops. Soon after the fork of Springhouse Loop trail is reached. Take the blue blazed Wood Duck trail on the right which is marked for the Parking lot . This leads back to the lot and in doing so closes the loop of Wood Duck trail itself. The trail end emerges at the same Information board at the start. Show more
#9 - Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail
James M. Johnston Nature Preserve
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(89)
Length: 1.3 mi • Est. 32 m
Location of NASCAR races from 1949 to 1968. If you're a race fan and enjoy hiking, this is a great place to check out.Show more
#10 - Springhouse Trail and Buckeye Trail Loop
Brumley Nature Preserve
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(61)
Length: 6.6 mi • Est. 2 h 54 m
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