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Occoneechee Mountain Hike

posted Aug 12, 2012, 11:52 AM by Justin P
I was planning to go to Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area for a hike yesterday, but it was cancelled due to the chance of rain.  But the rain never came through, so Sandy and I went to Umstead and hiked the Sal's Branch Trail.  Since I missed the hike yesterday and haven't been there in a while, I decided to go to Occoneechee Mountain today.  From the parking lot, I took the Occoneechee Mtn. Loop Trail clockwise, heading around the southern end of the "mountain" towards the Eno River.  In about a mile, the trail meets up with the river, and there is a short trail leading to a big rock, just off the state park property.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of trash dumped here, but it provides a nice view of the river.  And there are a few more spots along the trail near the Eno with very nice views - the park has put in park benches in a few of these.  Shortly after the trail left the river, there is a short spur trail to the old quarry.  Looking up at the cliff faces, it's easy to forget that this is in Hillsborough.  I then took the Overlook Trail up to the overlook, which is at the top of the cliffs I could see in the quarry.  The trail is surprisingly steep and I was carrying a backpack for the first time in a while.  I was surprised that I was out of breath when I reached the overlook, but it was worth it.  The views from the overlook are quite nice for the Piedmont - the Eno River winding in from the northwest and the town of Hillborough to the northeast.  I finished up the Overlook Trail at the Summit Trail and took it up to the top.  No view up here, just a radio tower.  Then back to the Overlook Trail to finish up the Occoneechee Mtn. Loop Trail.  But rather than finish all the way, I took the Brown Elfin Knob Trail (not luck spotting the rare butterfly, though) back to the gravel road and followed that back to the parking lot.