This is my first official post, but is actually fifth hike this year. We have been doing one hike each Saturday while I have been sneaking in a few during the week as well along with biking a few trails as well. I will catch you all up on those trails in the coming days.
The official site for Eno River State Park can be found here - North Carolina State Parks.
The map of the trails on the eastern portion of the park can be found here - Eno River Trail Map, PDF
We had already done the western portion of the trails the previous Saturday and were now tackling the eastern portion. The Eno River is located just north of Durham and is a rather simply drive from Fayetteville, up i95, then i40, NC147, then i85. There are a few signs to the park, but its easy to find. The trick is, to get to the eastern trails, you ignore the sign that leads to the park on Cole Mill Road, and take the opposite way. Eventually you'll see the entrance to the Cole Mill section of the park. The eastern trails also include the Pump Station area of the park. More on that later.
The Cole Mill area has a small parking lot with two pit toilets, which are probably the nicest pit toilets I have ever seen. There are two spigots near each toilet that provide city water, great for loading up on water before heading off. Maps are also available at both toilets.
We began by taking the Cole Mill trail, which would link up to the Bobbitt Hole Trail. These two trails make up the trails south of Cole Mill road. They both are looping, so you can easily take one, and if you're feeling it, take the next one. Both climb some mild hills and then drop down into one of the campsites available there. There are a couple of streams it crosses until it reaches Bobbitt Hole, a swirling pool of water that most likely forms a great fishing hole along the river. The trails then double back on their loop heading along the Eno River, which on this day was swollen from a few days of raining. The trail can be a little thin and certainly hugs the river, so be careful if you have little ones. Our two have the tendency of not really watching where they walk.
Once these two trails loop back to the parking lot, we took the Pea Creek and Dunnagan trails, both do linking loops north of Cole Mill road. Pea Creek is the shorter, but includes a few quick but steep climbs over a bunch of small boulders. Dunnagan is longer and includes plenty of ups and downs. There are few old stone foundations and even five (from what we saw) tombstones. One of them was inscribed with the years 1826-1914. All four of these trails logged around 5.2 miles on my watch, we completed them in 2:35 of actual hiking time.
Going back on the road and driving south on Cole Mill road, you take a right on Rivermont Rd, stay on it till it turns to gravel and you find the entrance to the Pump Station. Here, Nancy Rhodes creek was damned up and that water was pumped back into the town. The remains of this large building are still there along with some old stone foundations as well. The short Pump Station trail loops around all of these buildings and along the Eno River as well. Having hiked the Dunnagan trail, we could see this trail from the opposite side. Off of Pump Station trail is the Laurel Bluff trail. This trail goes north along the Eno, with plenty of ups and downs and going along cliffs along the Eno. There are plenty of good views of the river. This trail is one way though, 2.5 miles either way unless you want to hitch a ride at the end of it back to your car parked on Rivermont rd. We took this trail as the last trail of the day and it really beat us good. We had to turn back with about .8 miles left because rain clouds came in in a hurry. Either way, it was a good trail, and if done there and back, its an even 5 miles.
These trails were not nearly as interesting as the western trails, but still quite enjoyable. There were plenty of people there, with their children or dogs. I counted 25 turtles, all soaking in the sun that day. With NC spring coming around, many bulbs were up and about to bloom, adding a strong hint of green to the mostly brown winter look. The parking lot was more than large enough and there were picnic tables aplenty nearby. The only downside to these trails is its location. The park is a sliver of land along the Eno River and there is ample evidence of the close homes. We ran into a father and son using a dirt bike and four wheeler along the trail, prohibited of course. There is also that hint of trash the further away you were from the parking lot.
Total hiked, 8.9 miles. 4:37 actually hiking. Not really unique enough to do again, but if you never have, do the trails at least once.
Favorite Trail: Dunagan Trail, because of the old stone foundations and the tombstones. An odd silence and look back into the past.