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Eno River State Park

Eno River State Park is a state park northwest of Durham in Orange and Durham Counties that surrounds a stretch of its namesake river.

The Eno River flows from northwest Orange County through Durham County for 33 miles before joining the Flat River to become the Neuse River and flow into Falls Lake.  Native Americans lived along the river before the first European settlers came to the area.  These settlers, who arrived in the mid 18th century, set up farms and mills along the river, and more than 30 mills were located along the Eno River at one time.  The efforts to establish a park started in 1965, when the City of Durham proposed damming the river to build a reservoir.  Concerned citizens rallied to save the river and in May of 1972, the state established a state park along the Eno River.  The park opened in 1975 with more than 1,000 acres of land along the river.

Contact Information:

6101 Cole Mill Road
Durham, NC 27705-9275

Phone: (919) 383-1686

Email: eno.river@ncmail.net

GPS Coordinates: 36.0783, -79.0050

Directions:

There are five access areas within the park with different directions as described below.

Cabe Lands:

GPS: 36.03960, -78.99062

The Cabe Lands area includes two short loop trails, the Eno Quarry, and access to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  From I-85 in Durham, take exit 173 and follow Cole Mill Road northwest away from Durham for about 2.5 miles and turn left on Sparger Road.  In 1.3 miles, turn right on Howe Street.  There is a small parking lot on the right in 1 mile.  Do not park on the street here; rangers patrol the area to enforce parking regulations.

Cole Mill:

GPS: 36.05936, -78.98039

The Cole Mill area has several hiking trails on the north side of the river and a primitive campground.  From I-85 in Durham, take exit 173 and follow Cole Mill Road northwest away from Durham.  In 3.2 miles, turn right on Old Cole Mill Road to enter the park.

Few's Ford:

GPS: 36.07797, -79.00466

Few's Ford is the main access area of the park with miles of hiking trails, the park office, and primitive camping.  From I-85 in Durham, take exit 170 to US-70 W to Pleasant Green Road.  Turn right on Pleasant Green and go 2.2 miles and then turn left on Cole Mill Road.  Cole Mill Road will enter the Few's Ford access of the park after about a mile.  Alternately, take exit 173 off I-85 and follow Cole Mill Road northwest away from Durham for 5 miles into the Few's Ford access of the park.

Few's Ford

Pleasant Green:

GPS: 36.04653, -79.01135

Pleasant Green is primarily for boat access to the river, but the Mountains-to-Sea Trail can be accessed from here as well.  From I-85 in Durham, take exit 170 to US-70 W and turn right on Pleasant Green Road.  In 0.4 miles, turn left into the parking area immediately before the bridge over Eno River.

Pump Station:

GPS: 36.05857, -78.96572

Pump Station provides access to the ruins of the old Durham Pump Station as well as several trails, including the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  From I-85 in Durham, take exit 173 (Cole Mill Road) and follow Cole Mill Road northwest.  After about 2.5 miles, turn right on Rivermont Road, just before the stoplight at Sparger Road.  Follow Rivermont Road, which will become gravel and go down a hill and over a bridge.  Limited street parking is available just past the bridge on Rivermont Road.

Map:

Eno River State Park

Hiking:

Bobbitt Hole Trail:

Length: 1.65 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red Circle

Bobbitt Hole Trail is a 1.65-mile loop that extends the Cole Mill Trail.  There are two connections to this trail from the western end of Cole Mill Trail.  Bobbitt Hole Trail also provides access to the Cole Mill primitive campsites.  The trail follows the river upstream from Cole Mill Trail leading to its namesake drop in the river.

Buckquarter Creek Trail:

Length: 1.5 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red Circle

The Buckquarter Creek Trail starts at Few's Ford and heads north along the Eno River and shortly splits.  Taking the right trail to go counterclockwise around the loop, the trail heads up a bluff overlooking the Eno River then heads into denser forest.  The trail then intersects with the Ridge Trail, which goes further north.  Shortly after the intersection, the trail meets Buckquarter Creek and a small footbridge that leads to Holden's Mill Trail.  The trail follows Buckquarter Creek to Eno River and follows the river back to Few's Ford.

Cabe Lands Trail:

Length: 1.2 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red Circle

Cabe Lands Trail begins at its namesake access along Howe Road and heads toward the river.  The loop meets back up on the left shortly past the trailhead and the Laurel Bluffs Trail (Middle) splits to right a little ways past.  When the trail reaches the river, it turns left to follow it upstream through Cabe Gorge, a rocky section of the river.  The remains of the Cabe Mill are visible in this section.  Then trail then departs from the river and heads up to where Eno Quarry Trail splits to the right.  Continue straight to finish up the loop back near the trailhead.

Cox Mountain Trail:

Length: 3.75 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Light Blue Circle

The Cox Mountain Trail starts at the last parking lot in the Few's Ford Access at the end of Cole Mill Road.  The trail heads down to the river and crosses the river at a suspension bridge.  The trail goes a short ways further then splits.  Taking a left turn to go around the loop clockwise, the trail heads up about 270 feet to Cox Mountain a crosses a power line right-of-way, then heads back down the mountain back to the shore of the Eno River.  The trail loops around back intersecting the Fanny's Ford Trail in two locations before finishing the loop.

Cox Mountain Trail

Eno Quarry Trail:

Length: 0.8 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Blue Circle

The Eno Quarry Trail starts from the upper loop of Cabe Lands Trail and descends for under half a mile to Rhodes Creek.  Hikers need to rock hop across the creek and once across, the trail makes a half-mile loop around the quarry.  Swimming in the quarry is strongly discouraged due to deep water and underwater hazards.  At the northeastern corner of the loop, the western segment of Laurel Bluffs Trail splits off.  This trail can also be accessed from Pleasant Green Access on the Laurel Bluffs Trail.

Eno Trace Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Red Circle

The Eno Trace Trail branches off from the Cox Mountain Trail just before the suspension bridge.  This short interpretive trail makes a small loop along the banks of the river and has signs posted along the trail that describe the history and nature of the park.

Fanny's Ford Trail:

Length: 1.01 miles (loop)
Difficult: Easy
Blaze: Purple Circle

The Fanny's Ford Trail starts from the Cox Mountain Trail at the northeastern section of the loop.  The trail leads up to the river and the Fanny's Ford Camping area.  It follows the river to Few's Ford then meets back up with the Cox Mountain Trail.

Eno River

Holden's Mill Trail:

Length: 2.6 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate

Holden's Mill Trail starts across the footbridge across Buckquarter Creek from Buckquarter Creek Trail.  Turning right across the bridge to go counterclockwise around the loop, the trail heads up a surprisingly steep section then gradually heads down and meets up with the Eno River.  The trail splits and crosses a small stream leading to the remains of Holden's Mil.  Back at the split, the trail follows the Eno River along some rocky parts before leading back to the footbridge to Buckquarter Creek Trail.

Holden's Mill Ruins

Knight Trail:

Length: 0.34 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red Horseshoe

A short trail that leads from Ridge Trail north of Buckquarter Creek Trail eastward to the park boundary.  Near the end, the trail crosses a powerline clearing where Piedmont Trail intersects.  Beyond the park boundary is private property; enter only with permission.

Laurel Bluffs Trail (East):

*Laurel Bluffs Trail is in three non-contiguous segments, designed east, middle, and west.

Length: 2.5 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Yellow Circle

The Laurel Bluffs Trail splits off from the Pump Station Trail near the pump station and follows Eno River downstream to the park boundary at Guess Road.  The trail is named for the steep, north-facing bluffs that support mountain laurel.  The trail alternates between following close to river level and then climbing up the steep bluffs.  About half-way down the trail is Gebel Rock, a nice rock outcrop high above the river.


Near the eastern terminus of the trail, you'll come to Guess Mill.  After passing an old homestead, the remains of the mill can be seen along the river.  Just before the trail heads up to the road, you'll pass by the mill stone.  The trail ends at Guess Road.  If continuing eastbound on the MST, follow the sidewalk to cross the river on the road and then the trail will pick up on the other side, going left and down and underneath the road.  Don't try to cross Guess Road as traffic flies here and there's no crosswalk.

Piedmont Trail:

Length: 0.18 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Easy

A very short trail along a power line right-of-way intersecting the Knight Trail.  The trail ends at the park boundary on both ends; do not enter private property without permission.

Pump Station Trail:

Length: 1.5 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red Circle

The Pump Station Trail starts at the Pump Station Access along Rivermont Road.  The eastern segment of Laurel Bluffs Trail splits from the trail at the old Durham Pump Station.  Just past the pump station, the trail crosses Nancy Rhodes Creek on a small footbridge.  The remains of the dam are visible just upstream of the bridge.  The reservoir for the pump station was behind this dam.  The trail continues to follow Eno River upstream to a split - the central segment of Laurel Bluffs Trail splits off from here.  Pump Station Trail turns to the left and goes away from the river.  After another left turn, the trail comes out on Rivermont Road just before the bridge over Nancy Rhodes Creek and back to the start of the loop.

Ridge Trail:

Length: 1.27 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Blue Horseshoe

The Ridge Trail splits from the Buckquarter Creek Trail leading north to an intersection with the Knight Trail.  Just past the intersection, the trail crosses Buckquarter Creek.

Park History and Points of Interest:

Guess Mill:

The remains of Guess Mill are located near the eastern boundary of the park - access is from Pump Station on the eastern segment of Laurel Bluffs Trail.  The mill was located near the point where Guess Road crosses Eno River.  The remains of the dam are visible from the trail.

Just before here is an old homestead.  I'm not sure if this is where the Guess family lived.

Right before Laurel Bluffs Trail leads up to Guess Road, a mill stone is right next to the trail.

Pump Station:

The old Durham Pump Station is location along the Pump Station Trail near the intersection with the eastern leg of Laurel Bluffs Trail.  Durham became a city in 1869, but did not have a water system for its citizens.  In 1887, the Boston company A. H. Rowland built the pump station where Nancy Rhodes Creek flows into Eno River.  Water was collected for firefighting purposes and a series of filter houses pumped water to Durham residents for $6 a year.  As the city grew, the pump station was inadequate to supply water to the increasing number of residents and the site was abandoned in 1929. 

Today, mostly just foundations of the building remain; a testament to the power of nature to reclaim the land.

It's fun to explore the ruins, but exercise caution as there are holes and other hidden hazards throughout the site.




Wildlife:

Wildflowers:

The banks and floodplain of the Eno River is a great place to look for wildflowers.  Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) is a common wildflower that blooms in early spring.

Another common early spring wildflower is the azure bluet (Houstonia caerulea).

Blog Entries:

26-Mar-2017: Occoneechee Mountain & Cole Mill

19-Mar-2017: End of the Trail

12-Mar-2017: Snow and Sun on the Eno

External Links:

NC State Parks website: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/enri/main.php

Eno River Association: http://www.enoriver.org/

Photos: