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Occoneechee Mountain & Cole Mill

posted Mar 29, 2017, 4:30 PM by Justin P   [ updated Mar 29, 2017, 4:30 PM ]

It was a beautiful spring day to take Alex for a hike at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area.  We started on the Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail and began climbing the mountain.  Although Occoneechee is not high by any stretch of the imagination, it's high enough to feel like we're in the mountains.  A couple spots along the trail are quite rocky and reminiscent of the mountains.

The trail then leads down to Eno River.  Just beyond the park boundary is a big boulder along the river, a very scenic spot.

We continued following the trail along the river to the old quarry, where we stopped for a break.

Being a very furry husky, Alex gets hot easily.  So we climbed onto a big rock and re-hydrated.

Then we continued on to the overlook above the quarry.  It''s a steep climb up from the base but the views are really nice here.  Looking to the west, the Eno River can be seen snaking along the mountain.

And to the east, the little town of Hillsborough can be seen.  We made a short hike up to the radio tower at the summit and then took Chestnut Oak Trail back to the parking area.  Near here, I spotted a bunch of eastern redbud blooming.

The beautiful pink flowers on these small trees put on quite a show and sometimes even grow out of the trunk. We then headed over to the Cole Mill section of Eno River State Park.  A short drive between hikes gives Alex a chance to cool off in the air conditioning and get his energy back.  We started off on the Cole Mill Trail and followed that to Bobbitt Hole Trail and headed to the namesake drop on the river.

I took Alex down to river level to get a drink and cool off, but he was more interested in another dog who was fording the river.  I didn't have water shoes (and it was a little cold to wade in the river), but that might be a fun activity for Alex in the future.  From here, we made our way back to the parking lot.  There were a lot of wildflowers blooming along the trail.

The spring beauty was just about everywhere along the river bank.  I also spotted a couple patches of azure bluets.

These are the early spring wildflowers and they're around peak right now - soon more and more wildflowers will begin to bloom as spring kicks into gear.