I’ve been doing a lot of hiking. Nothing fancy: just checking out some of the local trails. As I casually explore the area I have realized two things: it is amazing how much of the topography has been altered and leveled by human hands, and if I am ever to remember the various combinations of short trails and day hikes that I’ve sampled then I need to record it. As I can only tackle one of those subjects in a single post we'll start with the latter. While there are plenty of websites with squiggling GPS lines and comments on different locations, they don't seem to provide much clarity or insight on a specific trail for a beginner. So here I go with my meager attempts.
Eno River State Park (Western Trails) – Buckquarter Creek
This was a really informal outing and I didn’t record the length, but it was probably one of the most fun hikes in the Durham area that I’ve done. We’ve wandered around this section of the Eno River before, and I promise I’ll give you some good advice in the future on what trails to pair with this one if you’d like some scenic routes with a bit more length, but this 1.5 mile loop (according to the trail map) is as good as any to start if you’re in north Durham.
Depending on which direction you go you may be pushing your way up a long incline, or you may be meandering along the river. Nobody likes pictures of a long trail up a hill, so I'll spare you that bit, but I must say the part of the trail along the river is great. There are sections where you are forced to scramble up and over large, flat boulders where your spirit of adventure is sure to be ignited. There were a few moments where I was almost plunged into the river (no thanks to my dog who got excited about clamoring over the banks), but anyone with a decent sense of balance should be able to conquer the rocky trail.
There are plenty of sections of the river that welcome a weary traveler to stop and take in the view. We passed a number of people near the trailhead who seemed to just come and enjoy the river without tackling the distance, but if you want to cover some miles to the tune of rushing water then Buckquarter Creek happily delivers.
There are very few benches if your feet grow tired, but just find a dry rock and put those boots up. I would recommend a rugged pair of sneakers or a proper hiking boot for this trail. It has its wide easy swaths and it has its bits where you'll be tripping over roots and rocks, so it's better to have a sturdier shoe. As I have yet to see a trailrunner here I wouldn't recommend any attempts to run this path, but you'll work up a sweat on a warm spring day just by walking and clamoring on.
Keep a look out - more than likely you'll see a Little Blue Heron or two wading along the edge.
So if you're looking for a quick trek that really delivers views of the river in the Durham area then yes, Buckquarter Creek should be at the top of your list.
So go forth! Enjoy! The Eno River awaits.
West Point on the Eno Park – South River Trail, Buffalo Trail and Laurel Cliffs Nature Trail (plus some side excursions)
The Eno River actually has several places along its banks open to locals. Besides Buckquarter Creek, which is part of the Eno River State Park Western Trails, there is also West Point on the Eno Park, which is managed by the City of Durham Parks and Recreation Department. The trails at West Point on the Eno Park are not very extensive, but you can link all the trails together and do some little side trips to see points along the river to stretch out the distance. At the very least scrambling over rocks to catch a glimpse at kayakers, turtles and the Eno River dam is worth a couple of hours. Here's the (very sporadic and maybe a little ADHD) path we took:
Start at the parking lot off North Roxboro Road and meander on down to the trailhead. There is a photography museum and a historic house open in the summer on weekends, but don't expect to bring your dog inside. Also, I highly recommend finding a bathroom before you get there. The bathrooms below the outdoor picnic pavilion weren't exactly ideal.
If you take a look at the trail map you don't have many routes to choose from if you're trying to cover miles, but you can string along a few trails for some distance. We started our hike at Laurel Cliffs Nature Trail and just kept left at the fork so we could do some semblance of a loop around Buffalo Trail, South River Trail and then past the dam back to the picnic area.
If you're sticking to the trails then you probably won't need much more than a sturdy sneaker, but if you're planning to find some private overlooks of the river then put on your boots. There were plenty of benches along the trails to rest, but who needs benches when you can scramble down a side trail and sun on some rocks?
Maybe you'll even find some turtles on the water with a similar idea.
And at the end of the trail you get a treat: the Eno River dam. You can actually do a bit of exploring along the edge of the dam, so it's worth venturing out there. You'll also find some wide ledges (stairs or seats, your choice) with a good view of the dam below if you'd rather sit and enjoy the hubbub of dogs, children and couples.