Monday, November 17, 2014



Map of this Eno River Trail
The Eno River State Park is never spectacular, but a hike there also never disappoints....there are so many trails and so many different views of the river, any hike there is enjoyable.  Having hiked most every trail in the Park we set out on a late autumn day to visit Cabe Lands, a portion of the river not yet explored by the FBWG.  The best source of trail intel for Eno River State Park is found in Eno  This is a map of the trail copied from that website.  Which, unfortunately I failed to take along. 

Finding the trail head is pretty easy. 
From the west get off at the NC 751 exit just past Hillsborough and follow the signs to the Historic Bennett Place.  Within sight of the turn off to the Bennett Place you will see some stoplights at the intersection of NC 70 and Sparger Road.  Turn left on Sparger Road and just across the 1-85 bridge take a left on Howe St.  At the end of Howe St. next to a trailer park is the parking lot for Cabe Lands.  I noted the signs about recent vehicle vandalism.  For once I was glad I was a CCW permit holder....just sayin...  

But I also enjoyed the feral chickens too!

According to Eno River, Cabe Lands refers to the lands occupied by Barnaby Cabe in the years prior to the Revolutionary War.  The Cabes were originally Tories, loyal to the King but fortunes of war made them sufficiently loyal to the Patriot victors that they purchased land on the Eno from the State of North Carolina. On this land, his son, John constructed a grist mill.  Married three times, John Cabe sired nine daughters!  Needless to say most of the settlers are in the family lineage of John Cabe.  

From the trail head leads a wide graveled trail.  About 200 yards from the trail head, a trail cuts to the left.  This trail leads to the Quarry Trail about a half mile away. 
 The Quarry Trail is a .4 of a mile connector to the loop trail around the quarry lake.  Total distance is 1.2 miles of very pleasant hiking. 

 Late autumn still provided some colorful displays of foliage.  The stroll around the lake provided several different vistas of one of the nicest quarry lakes I have ever seen.  

The trees provided nice shadows as well as colorful backdrops.  

Of course we met some nice people on the trail.  Lou Ann and Derward are from Durham and recently hiked out west.  Their stories made the FBWG jealous, but then again there are really many trails in the Old North State I have yet to hike so I guess I am gonna put a trip to the west on hold till I finish up around here.  Nevertheless I promised to make them famous by putting their picture in this blog.
On the east side of the quarry lake, the loop trail picks up the Mountain to Sea Trail.  A short scramble off the trail and you can get the first glimpse of the day of the Eno River as it meanders over the rocks.  Tracing our path back up the connector trail, we took a left turn at the Quarry Loop sign and proceeded down to the river banks.  

At the river, I explored a trail up the river to the west and climbed on a rock promontory and took a picture of the remnants of the old dam just downstream from the quarry we just visited.

Backtracking to the Cabe Land loop trail we continued on a pleasant walk along the river. The rocks allowed the FBWG to climb to the middle of the river and take a picture to the west upstream and turn around and take a shot to the east downstream.  

The Eno has a quiet elegance to its flow.  It is a very old river and there seems to be no reason for the water to hurry downstream.

Not far from this blaze orange tree were two newly constructed footbridges which it turns out crossed the mill streams from the old mill.


I imagine in the summer time, it may be hard to locate the old mill.  But the stone foundations are about 75 yards from the foot bridge.

The foundation of the mill shows how large this mill was.  

The idea that the mill was constructed in the mid 19th century and still is standing is a tribute to the craftsman of that day.  

Leaving the mill we veered off the Cabe Land loop and continued down the riverside trail.  We caught a couple more nice views of the Eno River. The old river is always good for nice reflections.
The riverside trail turns away from the river and heads up the bluff toward the graveyard and the home place site but not before the river provided one last parting shot.
Leaving the river we assumed we were on the trail to the graveyard but there were so many leaves we must have missed the trail.  Turns out we were on the Laurel Bluff Trail which soon led us back to the Cabe Land Loop trail above the home site.
 We elected to continue back to the car where we discovered that the graveyard trail just like the map shows runs parallel to the Cabe Land Loop Trail at the trail head.  Maybe next time we come we will reverse our course and see the graveyard first.  One of the tidbits of history which Eno pointed out was that John Cabe's great grand daughter married Lorenzo Bennett. His family had a farm on the Hillborough Road about seven miles from Durham.  Lorenzo was a Confederate soldier who died during the Civil War from some ailment.  

The significance to all this is that the Bennett farmhouse is where the Civil War ended.  

It is the place where General Joseph Johnston surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman.   

The trail is a moderate trail with a number of neat things to see.  The Eno River at one time bustled with businesses.  

There were mills and quarries together with homesteads and interrelated families.  Only remnants of which bear witness to days long past.  Trail access is an 8....despite the fact it is easy to find, the FBWG don't like to have to worry about vandals or pack heat to go on a hike.  The trails are well marked and maintained-9; The scenery, though unspectacular is interesting and varied-8; The effort to view ratio is low but it is the Eno and the trails are not strenuous and the views are what you expect.  

Overall the trail is a solid 8. The Eno River State Park remains one of my favorite places to visit.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Black Mountain Range- Craggy Gardens


About 18 miles north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway, near mile post 369 you will find the entrance to the Craggy Gardens Picnic Grounds.  

Located on top of a 5000 foot ridge, it is one of the nicest picnic areas on the Parkway, my count of the tables tell me that it would accommodate 500 people or more! At the upper parking lot is the trail head to the Craggy Gardens trail.  A short but steep trail to the Craggy Garden Balds. 

There are two ways to get to Craggy Gardens, we chose this way only because we did not know about the trail leading from the visitors center located at Mile Post 364, some five miles north.

Storms a few days before we arrived clocked wind gusts at 50 mph and blew most of the foliage to the ground.  While the colors were disappointing the trail proved more challenging than we imagined.  Turns out it is a 450 foot climb without many switch backs.

As the trail emerges from the woods to the fringes of the meadow, an occasional look back presents a nice view of the distant blue mountains.

At the top of the ridge, there stands a nice covered building with many much appreciated benches. The trail from the Visitors Center joins the meadow trail at this point.  From the building there is a short hike to the meadow ridge top. 

The Craggy Gardens are really a mountain meadow known as a "Heath Bald" which is essentially a area of treeless ridge tops where the soil is too acidic to support forestation.

These are usually found in the North Carolina mountains at elevations above 5000 feet.
The vegetation is primary shrubs and rhododendrons which would make this place a true natural garden in the early summer when all the blossoms are in bloom.  There are many trail through the meadow and we chose the one taking us to the highest spot where an overlook was constructed.  

The overlook is a nice place to take a break and rest your dogs.  I suspect that when it was constructed the surrounding vegetation was much smaller and the views were much better.  Still you can get some nice views of the surrounding countryside. 

Leaving the overlook and walking down through the meadow, we got to take in more of the vast mountain range that surrounding us.  

To the north was the Craggy Pinnacle.  We did not know it at the time, but that was our next destination.  Note the cliffs that form its peak.  There are great views from those spots!

This place will be on our return hike list earlier in the summer as I am sure this meadow would be alive with spring color.   The trail has great access from the picnic area - 9; the trail is well maintained and marked - 9; the scenery was not great on the autumn day as the leaves had been blown early summer hike would be better...views were fine but not spectacular -7... the effort to view ratio is not good as it is a steep one mile hike to the top without good views....overall a 7 hike...