Saturday, July 6, 2013

Eno River State Park - Holden Mill Trail

HOLDEN MILL TRAIL at Eno River State Park

Rain in the Blue Ridge kept us in the flat lands and we returned to an old favorite, the Eno River State Park. We hiked the Holden Mill Trail and the Buckquarter Creek Trail. It was a hot 87 degree day, but we turned in a nice five mile workout along one the State's oldest rivers.

The Eno River State Park is laid out in two sections.  We first visited the Eastern Section in December and hiked the trails on the western side of the river.  Today we chose to return to hike the eastern trails and the Holden Mill Trail seemed most inviting. To access this part of the park, you travel on Pleasant Green Road off US 70 and park in the first parking lot. A short trail takes you from the parking lot to Fews Ford where you encounter the trail head sign for Buckquarter Creek Trail. 

During our first visit to Eno River State Park, we spotted the elusive "red heeled Badunkadunk" at this site. It is a nice small series of falls which is located a few hundred yards north of Fews Ford.
If you make it to the falls, you have missed the Buckquarter Creek Loop Trail.  It is on the right just before you climb the steps leading to the falls. If you intend to combine the  Buckquarter Creek with the Holden Mill Loop you will need to take this trail or else will as we did hike an extra half mile to get back to Holden Mill trail head.

Along the trail we encountered some of nature's most unusual creatures, the beautiful butterfly and the river turtle.

Butterflies were more numerous than turtles but they were much harder to photograph.  The turtles were sunbathing at various locations on the river.  Often rocks had several turtles crowded on top catching some rays.  But we soon encountered these "bumps on a log".

My favorite turtle was the one we saw on the way out who was "planking" on a rock!

The Buckquarter Creek Trail intersects with the Holden Mill Creek Trail at a bridge over Buckquarter Creek.  If you hike it correctly the bridge will be on the right...we did not so we continued past the bridge and followed a trail through the woods up on the ridge above the river.
For some reason the Buckquarter Creek Trail was terminated and redirected to the loop back to the river. It you look at the map, there is a lot more to the Buckquarter Creek Trail than the park allowed us to access.  This hike introduced us to the surprisingly steep part of the Eno River Trails, not mountain steep mind you but steep enough for the Fat Bald White Guy on an 87 degree day!

Returning to the river path and retracing our steps we arrived again at the bridge over Buckquarter Creek and began our hike of the Holden Mill Loop.  We took the loop to the right and encountered a lush forest path that soon turned into a steep .45 mile climb....well steep for a FBWG on an 87 degree day.

When you hike the Eno River State Park you are reminded of the rich history of the land now reclaimed by forest.  This section of the park is no different.  The Holden Mill Trail takes you to the remnants of an old mill.  While there is just a stone foundation that is all that is left of the old mill, the advertisement tells a tale of a once vibrant part of the rural Orange County community.

The remnants of the mill is a large rock foundation and what looks like portions of a dam that redirected the Eno River to the mill site.

The river narrows at the mill site.  When we observed this site from the other side of the river I thought it to be a bridge abutment or a ford. 

The trip back was along the river bank and parts of the trail were over large river rocks which created a scramble of sorts but provided great views of the Eno.

I climbed out on a rock in the middle of the river to take a picture and found the way out was easier than the way back.

 There was a nice rock beach that attracted sunbathers.....thank goodness they kept their clothes on....the guy with a beard gave me pause though as I saw him without a shirt and was momentarily confused.

The Eno River State Park did not disappoint us.  The eastern trails are just as varied and interesting as their sister trails to the west.  This hike is much more enjoyable in December than in July.   But anytime you can play in the Eno is a good day!

The trails are an 8....the views are a 7.....access is a 9.  Great hike on a hot July day...Overall grade is an 8.
My hiking companion found a frog on the trail and since I did not step on it, I thought I would make him famous.  She named him Franz Frog


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