Sunday, May 5, 2013

Eno River State Park - Laurel Bluff Trail


Laurel Bluff Trail -  Pump Station Loop

Taking a third trip to Eno River State Park, the Fat Bald White Guy and his Hiking Companion were treated to a wonderful spring hike on a trail through the remnants of a an old reservoir. 

 From 1887-1927 this reservoir supplied water to the City of Durham.  

Increasing demand for water in the City of Durham during the 1870's and 1880's prompted the city to enter into a contract with A.H. Howland of Boston to establish a water infrastructure/pumping system sufficient to provide pressure capable of producing 10 streams of water, each 100 feet high, from 10 fire hydrants. The city signed a 30 year contract with the company, with the proviso that equipment and installation would be approved by a city engineer.  In 1886-1887, Howland and W.F. Ellis, along with 75 laborers and two blacksmiths constructed a 100 foot dam across the Eno River at the point Nancy Rhodes Creek empties into the river. The pond formed behind the dam would hold 6 million gallons of water.  A pumping station would pump water from the river up to a reservoir 8300 feet away atop Huckleberry HIll. This 3 million gallon reservoir would gravity feed the City of Durham.

the cornerstone says "1887"

 The Pump Station Loop is a 1.5 mile trail through the remnants of the pump station which pumped water from the Eno River to the Huckleberry Hill reservoir.  Hidden in the woods along the Eno River are the foundations of an engineering marvel of its day.

Getting to the trailhead for this hike is not as easy as other trails in the Eno River State Park.  You take Pleasant Green Road off of NC 70 and at the intersection of Cole Mill Road, you ignore the signs telling you to turn left to access the park and turn right.  You also ignore the sign at the next stop light directing you to the Eno River State Park and proceed across the Cole Mill River Bridge.  At a stoplight at the top of the hill, you will see Rivermont Road to the left.  As the road turns into gravel, you cross a bridge and the trailhead is on the left.

Beginning on the red blazed Pump Station Loop you soon get a glimpse of portions of the old pump station.  We elected to proceed on the white blazed Laurel Bluff trail with a destination of the Eno River Dam some 2.5 miles to the east.  We completed the Pump Station Loop on the trek back.

As with all the state parks we have visited, the trail is well maintained and clearly marked. The Laurel Bluffs trail is a green canopied path that meanders along the bluffs to the south of the Eno River.  

Many side trails to the river provide great views of the Eno.  The best views were from the bluffs overlooking the riverbanks.  

We also got to experience the first of the summer array of wild flowers...

Lavender rhododendrons were scattered on the top of one bluff.   

 Laurel were beginning to bloom as well and many varieties of their pink blossoms adorned the trail.

Angel's Breath and Ferns adorned the trail on the top of one bluff.

The FBWG always finds unusual trees on the trail and this hike was no exception....Located 20 feet from the river was a Carolina White Pine at least 6 feet in diameter and over 100 feet tall. 

Stopping to take a picture of an incredible riverview, the FBWG was thrilled to see flying into my picture frame, the majestic Blue Heron.  The result was one incredible picture of God's natural masterpiece.

A close up of the Blue Heron in flight is amazing. The flight reminds me of a favorite quote: "Creativity is the Blue Heron within us waiting to fly; through her imagination, all things become possible"  Nadia Janice Brown

Over our three trips to the Eno River State Park, we have come to learn that the riverviews are always stunning. The Eno did not disappoint us on this hike. 

At the end of the Laurel Bluffs Trail are the remnants of the Eno River Dam.  At this point we took a break and took in the views just a couple hundred yards away from busy Guess Road in Durham.

Near the dam are the ruins of an old home place and amazingly there stands an old well pump next to the  stone chimney. All that is left of someone's once isolated abode are the front steps, the hearth and this old pump.
Trekking back to the Pump Station Trail we explored some side trails on the riverbank and I got to photograph a small waterfall next to a mossy log.

On the Pump Station Trail the river views were merged with views of the rock foundations of century old buildings.

Upon reflection this was an amazing hike...a six miler full of history, archeology, flora and riverviews. This trail is one of the best kept secrets in the State.

Trail Cairn
Access is good once you know where your are need a map 7...scenery is a solid 9....trails are great 9....overall for a flatland hike this is a 9....a hike you must take.  I can only imagine how beautiful it would be in the fall...


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