Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eno River State Park - Cox Mountain Trail



How many times have I taken the NC 751 exit off I-85?   Hundreds I bet and never did I realize that not five miles to the north was one of the neatest parks in the State Park System - Eno River State Park!  The Eno River is an ancient stream getting the name from the Native Americans who inhabited the river basin in pre-colonial days.  Hillsborough is upstream from the state park and it is said to be built on the site of the Eno Town named Ocaneechi. 

We decided to take the 3.75 mile Cox Mountain was marked "strenuous"- but seriously how tough can a 300 foot elevation change trail be?

For about a third of a mile Cox Mountain Trail resembled some of the more moderate trails we hiked in the Gorge but for Orange County in Piedmont North Carolina I guess this was the best mountain they had for us 
to climb!

Once to the peak of Cox Mountain we were treated with a nice level ridge top trail....this would be a great fall hike!  Then we descended to the Eno Riverbanks along a large feeder stream....and as we emerged from the forest I saw the first of many incredible reflections on the mirror like surface of the quiet Eno River.

This area was the home of many early American settlers who after they ran the Eno Indians off built many homes, roads and mills along the river.

In fact the remnants of a bridge abutment still can be seen on the riverbanks and the trail along this part of the river appears to be an old stagecoach road.  Bet it was an interesting ride when the river was up.  I wonder if this was the road from Hillsborough to Durham? It reminded me a lot of the road into Basin Cove which is also used now as a hiking trail. Somehow I never considered rural Orange County as remote though.

The river was magnificent.  One stunning reflection after another separated only by small rapids.

The Cox Mountain Trail follows the old stagecoach road over the ridge and intersects with the road to Fanny Ford (what a great name?!)on the other side leading to the site of the Old Mill. This trail is a 2.0 mile loop along the banks of the river with some nice river views.   

This part of the river sports some falls of sorts...I will have to call them "Fanny Falls"...this is where we spied a most unusual sight....a girl on the trail on the other side of the river in red high heel shoes!  It would appear that she was there for a photo shoot...but had walked nearly a mile in 3 inch heels along the river trail!

The Fanny Ford is the site of a Old Mill....and students at UNC have created a nice feature to the hiking trail....just pull out your cell phone and call the number and a nice UNC Co-ed will tell you the history of the mill at Fanny Ford....but never said a word about where the name came from....dang.

Following the old mill road out from the Fanny Ford we soon found our way back to the Swingin Bridge.

Crossing the swinging bridge, we started back to the car when we spied a short half mile river trail named the Eno River Trace and being greedy for more river views we bounded down the trail...two things of note....
First, many of the trail improvements were a result of the work of Eagle Scouts....and, second,  that there was a sign indicating the high water mark of the Eno River during Hurricane Fran....easily 30 feet above the current river bank!

The Eno River Trace Trail was a look at the replica of a river side cabin....and the unique reflections of two turtles!

We figured we hiked about 7 miles which is not bad for a Sunday afternoon adventure.   What can I say about this gem of a State Park?  The access is a 10....not five miles off   I-85 between Hillsborough and Durham.... the trails are an 8....wide, well marked and easily traversed....and the scenery is an 8....great river views.  But this trail would be brutal in hot weather....but with a 68 degree December day...we had a blast.....FBWG rates the trail a solid 8.  

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