The park can be found by taking Guess Road out of Durham. The entrance is one mile after you cross into Orange county on the right. Great directions and wonderful information is found at the Little River Regional Park official web page. Likewise, you can use google maps from the embedded map below to create directions to the parking lot.
Upon entering the park, several houses are visible along the park entrance. The entry road ends at a parking lot that has a small children’s playground and open play area on the left. Closed bathrooms, park office, and a covered pavilion is nearby. At first glance the differences between the bike and hiking trails are not obvious. The hiking trails start by walking through the small, covered information building. I’ve marked the hiking entrance on the picture below.
The trail begins on a concrete trail. The natural entrance of the trail is fairly well marked. A small house that was used as a tobacco house and storage area is a brief focal point before the main section of the trail begins.
The initial Ridge Trail section of the hike is typical for the area with hardwoods and small pines. The trail is in excellent shape and well marked with signs. In the winter you easily get the feel that you are on a small ridge. Typical leaf-fall and downed trees are visible.
On the ridge were these small green fern-like plants that I love. They were covering one small section of the ridge. Measuring from the parking lot, the Ridge Trail is about 0.8 miles one way.
On the way to the North River Trail you will the fork to South River Trail .
Included below is an embedded google map of the GPS tracking of the trail and the various waypoints. You may have to click on the viewpoints to see their labels.
View Little River North Loop in a larger map
At the end of the Ridge Trail, an information station and sign can be found. An emergency access actually forks here as well so it can be a little confusing. I’ve marked the proper direction of the trails below. When in doubt, remember that passing through the metal trail protectors/gates is always the correct path.
The North River Trail as you can see above is a loop that briefly parallels the Litte River. There is a minor climb down to the river and a subsequent climb back toward the trail. The Little River as a whole is certainly smaller than the Eno. It is typically shallow enough that young children can play safely, but it also brisk enough to create gentle babbling and tinkling noises around the rocks.
Before long, the trail loops back on itself and you return to the parking lot via the Ridge Trail. Sit down and enjoy the wonderful, Little River experience before you head back home.
Ridge and North River Loop Trails–
To reach Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area from I-85, take exit 164. Travel north on Churton Street, and turn left at the stoplight onto Mayo Street. At the next stop sign, turn left onto Orange Grove Road. Turn right onto Virginia Cates Road, and follow the signs to the parking area. (Directions/Map in PDF format.)
From the parking lot, you can hit either trail head for the Occoneeche Mountain Loop Trail. All of the side trails including Brown Elfin Knob Trail, Summit Trail, and Overlook Trail come off the northeastern part of this main loop. These side trails highlight some of the main aspects of the mountain and allow for a shorter hike. Trail maps are available from the parking area. For reference the northeastern start of the loop starts near the easily seen Ranger’s Residence. The western trail head of the loop starts past the public restrooms. On our afternoon we hiked around the entire loop trail and did not tackle the shorter side trails. I’ll be describing the trail as starting from the northeast trail head.
View Occoneechee_Mountain in a larger map
The trail starts with the fishing ponds on the right and veers off into the shades of the mountain forest. The initial climb peaks near the Brown Elfin Knob (767ft elevation) . The Brown Elfin Knob Trail forks off here and can be taken to the Summit Trail for a quicker hike to the Occoneechee Mountain Summit. We ignored these side trails on this trip.
Climbing down the knob, the trail enters the power line cuts that borders the northern and eastern perimeters of the park. Although a bit unnatural, the power line cut is a good opportunity to appreciate how high the mountain is compared to the rest of the area. Continuing around the mountain, the trail next passes the Overlook trail. This internal side trail gives an top down view of the abandoned quarry. We bypassed this knowing we would have other opportunities as the loop continued.
After another short hike along a power line cut, numerous warning signs mark a short, unmapped quarry trail. The views of the quarry here are very impressive. Children in this area should be watched closely as one wrong step could equal disaster. A bit further down, the trail opens up into the bottom of the quarry. Kids will love exploring the large boulders and rocks left from the large rockslide in 2001.
Leaving the bottom of the quarry will lead to the portion of the trail that parallels the Eno River. Near a small bridge take the time to explore the natural drainage from the quarry. The pyrophyllite mineral found here is often used in talcum powder. The soft talc-like quarry silky residue can be found on rocks in this drainage areas. The many flat smooth stones here are also great for rock-skipping lessons with the kids.
The western and southern sections of the loop are mildly strenuous as it wraps up and around the mountain. At one point the loop approaches the mountain summit (867 ft. elevation). The sound of Interstate 85 near the trail’s end signals your return to civilization.
The quarry was started prior to the Civil War and was used to create railways in the state. It operating as the Southern Broken Stone Company until the early 1900s. The white face of the quarry is formed by the sericite, quartz and pyrophyllite minerals found in this area. The talc-like pyrophyllite continues to be an important industrial mineral. In fact, a nearby active modern quarry can be seen while hiking in the area. North Carolina remains a leading miner of pyrophyllite in the United States.
More information about the geology and minerals of the Occoneechee mountain can be found in this article: How Did Occoneechee Mountain Form? Examples of minerals in the area can be found on this page: The Rocks and Minerals of Occoneechee Mountain
Occoneechee Mt. Loop–
I’ll add links and maps as I get time.]]>
Typically for trianglehike, I blog about hikes near the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. However, my family so enjoyed hiking Crowders Mountain outside Charlotte, I thought I would briefly describe it here. Although the drive from the triangle would be about 2.5 hours, I certainly think it is worth it.
Directions to the park can be found on the ncparks web site for Crowders Mountain State Park. Here is a nice google map link to the park office for directions too.
With around 20 miles of hiking trails, my family certainly could not do the park justice in one afternoon. I’ll describe our loop.
View Crowder’s Mountain Loop in a larger map
Hiking from the park office in either direction yields woodland trials up Crowders Mountain. The remainder of the trails trace the long ridge and the associated camping grounds and peaks.
From the office, we chose the moderate Turnback trail up the mountain. In April several flowers were in bloom and the trail traces a lazy stream for a bit. This connects to a portion of the Pinnacle trail across the ridge and back down to our start. This loop yielded an approximate 3.5 mile hike.
The Pinnacle trail is labelled as strenuous, but my three year old navigated the trail with minimal difficulty. Although boulders line the trails and are great bait for ankle twisting, no serious climbing or special equipment was required. In fact, we saw several families and their canine companions on the trails as well.
The trails have obviously seen a lot of maintenance, and I suspect many hours of Boy Scout volunteer time have been spent there.
Official Web Site
Map of Trails and Brochure (pdf)
Google Maps: Our Crowders Mountain Loop
KMZ of our Crowder Mountain loop
Flickr Set: Crowders Mountain and Concord, NC]]>
The Cabe Lands entrance can be a little difficult to find. I have marked the Cabe Lands entrance in google maps if you would like directions from your exact location. Additional directions can be found at Trails of NC and Wildernet.
Cabelands loop starts at the parking lot / trailhead. Staying straight, the trail gently heads down toward the river. Earthen mounds on each side of the trail hint to the previous existence of Cabe Mill in this area.
View Larger Map
A short walk along the Eno River at Cabe’s Gorge rewards the middle part of the loop. Waters rush around the rapids here. Fresh water mussel shells frequent the water line. Trees line the river–a few even filled with moss saprophytes.
Leaving the river, the trail turns into a gentle climb. Although probably “moderate” by definition, my three-year-old had no problem tackling it. The trail moves up and down through shaded woods.
A take off to the Quarry trail on the right is marked with a large warning sign. After a short hike, stone stepping is required to get across a Rhodes Creek to reach the quarry. Unfortunately for us, a huge night of rains had left the stream unskippable by my family. Navigating the trail over the circumference of the quarry will have to be left to another trip.
Swimming/playing in the 4 acre Quarry Pond is always discouraged but typically allowed. However, currently due to an algae bloom, warning signs are posted everywhere suggesting that the water could actually be dangerous.
Coming back from the quarry trail, the end of the cabelands trail is peppered with large quartz on each side of the trail.
Cabelands Trail –
For all the details regarding this hike, please visit our previous Cole Mill and Bobbitts Hole Trails post.
The Eno is finally full again after some desperately needed rain. My daughter was itching to see the raging river so we revisited the 2.6 mile dual loop. Although the hike has not changed since my previous post about it, I wanted to post a few pictures documenting this new experience. Click on the pictures to see them much bigger…
My daughter was leader for the majority of the hike…
I have never heard that there was an old homestead on this trail. However, the patch of buttercups erupting in the woods nearby may hint of one.
From the turtles sunning themselves to the last few fall colors, this hike surrounds with beautiful nature.
The lack of leaves this time of year exposes the beauty of raw wood. Gnarled or termite-patterned, the trees really stand out.
No polarizing filter. No photoshop. I promise that this was really the color of the sky.
Google will be glad to give you directions to Few’s Ford Access Area.
The Holden’s Mill Trail is one of two trails available from the Buckquarter Creek Trail. The trail entrance is obvious with marked signs and a bridge crossing the Buckquarter Creek. The Holden’s Mill Trail is actually two loops connected by a short common path. The large loop contains most of the distance while the small loop around the ruins of Holden’s Mill is the climax of the hike.
The riverside portions of the loops are typical of most Eno hikes. Rapids and rock-hops are common and beautiful. During our hike the water was very low and very clear. The higher ridge portion of the large loop contains a moderate climb of 200-300 feet through hardwoods. The leaves were just beginnning to change for autumn.
Mid way through the large loop, a small creek is crossed to join the smaller loop around Holden’s Mill. Several rows of stacked rock suggests that a mighty structure once lived here. Rock remants of the dam are visible on both sides of the river. Certain times of the years, planted flowers are visible that hint where a schoolhouse was once located. The walls of stacked rock are facinating and stimulate a lot of imagination on how the area must have looked when the mill was active.
After finishing the small mill loop, the small common path returns the hiker back to the larger loop to complete the hike. After crossing the bridge, the hiker may wish to complete the Buckquarter Creek Trail.
Kirk – Holden’s Mill Trail Photos (23)
Qmchenry – Holden’s Mill Trail Photos (22)
From I-85 take exit 173 onto Cole Mill Road north. The road ends at the park. After you pass the park office on the right, take the first right. Google maps gives good directions.
The Buckquarter Creek Trail is the base trail for several interesting Few’s Ford hikes. However, this trail in solo has both wonderful scenery and a challenging climb. After just a few yards, the trail opens up at Few’s Ford. In reference to the picture to the left, you approach the ford where the truck (ironically, a Chevy) is sitting. After your trek is over, this is a nice place to wade across the river to cool your heels. My kids would have played in the ford all day. The ford is formed by river stones so water footwear is highly recommended for play here.
Following the trail along the river, you will mirror the Fanny’s Ford trail for a bit. This includes crossing a wooden overlook that views the small but roaring falls.
The trail breaks away from the Eno and follows the Buckquarter Creek for a short way. One may cross the creek at a wooden bridge to add the Holden Mill Trail to this hike. Soon the trail turns east and starts to gain elevation. The take off to the Ridge trail is found here. The southeast return to the trailhead is the most difficult of the loop. The two steep hills provide nice cardiovascular stimulation before you close the loop back at the ford.
You gotta love it when you see a family of deer on the way out of the park too…
This is the Eno entrance that is best marked. From I-85 take exit 173 onto Cole Mill Road north. The road ends at the park. Stop for trail maps outside the office on the right near the park entrance. Leaving the office, stay straight until the parking area for this set of trails. Google maps gives good directions here as well.
When done in full, Cox Mountain is a suprisingly difficult amateur hike for this area. Fanny’s Ford is an easy, beautiful addition. Even if a strenous climb is not in your plans, most of the hike’s highpoints can be experienced anyway. Click on the map below to see the trail in google maps:
Coming out of the parking lot, the trail is initially paved sidewalk. A large area of picnic tables are on the right. The trail continues into the woods and takes a pretty rapid descent to the riverside. After about 0.2 miles, the trail shadows the river briefly before crossing a swinging bridge. This area is often populated with kids exploring the bridge and playing in the river. Other small unmarked trails allow for further river exploration in this area. This is as far as a lot of the park’s visitors go in exploring this area.
Continuing past the bridge, the Cox Mountain trail forks. Taking the left (western) trail will get the strenuous ascent part of the trail over while your legs are still fresh. Under the canopy, interesting stacks of rocks can be seen on the “mountain”.
My hiking partner for this trip, Mike, speculated that this might have been some way that land was marked in previous times. Around the trail interesting pieces of stone such as quartz are easily found. A few scattered benches allow for rest, but for the most part, the mountain hike is simply a workout.
As the trail returns near the previously described fork, the take off to the Fanny’s Ford loop can be found. After a brief flat hike through the woods, the trail follows a wonderful area of river. Be watching for a small unmarked fork near the river that takes the hiker near a tiny waterfall. I would have missed it except we could hear the roaring of the water.
This trail ends on an old coach road at Few’s Ford. Both children and adults alike can enjoy the shallow moving water while imagining horse-drawn carriages crossing the river here many years ago. Completing the loop will bring you back to the swinging bridge and toward the parking area.
Casual hikers may wish to avoid the steep mountain climb and just take the trail straight to Fanny’s Ford Trail. This would be a kid-friendly hike that hits most of the beauty of the hike.
Cox Mountain Trail:
Fanny’s Ford Trail:
As these trails are part of the Eastern Eno trails, we have discussed directions to the entrance in our previous posting about this area. This google map marks the location to the eastern trail parking.
Cole Mill Trail and Bobbitt’s Hole Trail are connecting loops. (For reference, Bobbitt’s Hole trail is also known as Bobbit’s or Bobbit Hole Trails.) Cole Mill has two trailheads at the parking lot, and Bobbitt’s Hole Trail is a gem of an extension that allows the hiker to experience Bobbitt’s Hole itself.
Once on Cole Mill Trail, stay to the right. This will get the steep challenging climbing part of the hike over when the legs are fresh. Total climb over the entire hike is about 250 ft. Interesting stone types are seen during the climb and in washed away areas of the trail. Several bridges cross small creeks. After the first powercut, the Cole Mill Loop/Bobbitt’s Hole fork is present. After the second powercut, the Piper Creek campgrounds with a latrine are passed. A tenth of a mile after the campgrounds, the small spur trail to Bobbit’s Hole can be found.
Bobbitt’s Hole was evidently named for a man named Bobbitt who drowned here. This history does not prevent people from enjoying rock climbing and sun-absorbing in this area. Benches and flat areas for picnics make this area a wonderful resting place. The spur continues a way up the river although evidently it runs into private land. Paths into other private land areas branch away from this spur as well.
The rest of the trail follows the river downstream. Beaver slides near the river are evident. At the powercut, the Cole Mill Loop (from the previously described fork) rejoins this trail. We happened upon a nice park ranger near some fencing near the river. He informed us that the fencing is being used to divert people from using a few areas of older trails near the river that have started to wash. He also brought to our attention that several trees have small metal cages surrounding them to protect them from the hungry beavers in the area.
The trail finishes up near the trailhead for Pea Creek.
Cole Mill Trail:
Flickr Photos from Cole Mill and Bobbit’s Hole Trails (35)