Monday, January 31, 2011


Well I've gone about 10 months without providing an update on the progress I've made on my goals. So here it is (green=complete, blue=in progress, red=incomplete):

33. Submit to a photo contest
54. Maintain hiking log and blog
55. Hike another 100 miles (starting distance: 96.25 miles)
56. Buy new hiking boots (lighter, better fitting)
57. Buy new sleeping pad or tent
58. Go to Crabtree Creek in Umstead after a heavy rain when the creek is high

59. Go winter camping--in the snow
60. Traverse the American Tobacco Trail (can be in sections)

61. Bike the paved portion of the ATT with E
62. Backpack for three nights in a row or more
63. Kayak at least once per year (below pictures from Platte River in Michigan)

64. Camp in three seasons
65. Go on a Presidentials crew reunion hike each year
66. Summit a greater than 10,000 foot peak
67. Visit two of the following parks: Yosemite, Zion, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain, Bryce Canyon
70. Begin section-hiking the AT
76. Hike a southern bald (below pictures at Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain in Pisgah National Forest in western NC--full post on this amazing trip coming soon!)

98. Walk every greenway that is a mile or longer in Morrisville, Cary, and Raleigh
100. Compete in a Backwoods Orienteering Klub race (BOK race in Umstead State Park)

101. Compete in a Great Urban Race (Charlotte GUR--we came in about 250th out of 500 teams)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eno River-Buckquarter Creek/Holden's Mill

Hike: Buckquarter Creek/Holden's Mill Circuit
Location: Eno River State Park
Nearby Town: Durham
Elevation (Max): 669'
Elevation Gained: 465'
Mileage: 3.9
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Take Exit 170 from I-85 onto US-70 W. Take first right onto Pleasant Green Rd. Turn left on Cole Mill Rd and follow to the parking at Piper Cox House.
Web Site:

This circuit connects two loop trails that meet at Buckquarter Creek. The hike begins next to the Piper Cox House. Trail maps are available at the trailhead. It is a short walk down to Fews Ford on the river where Buckquarter Creek goes right. Quickly the loop begins. Going right takes you up on a hill above the river, going left walks right along a path on the side of the bluff above the Eno. I went right to save the better scenery for later.

The start of the hike

Lots of green

The trail meets a Y, where you should stay left to reach the farthest point of the loop. Here, you can either continue for a shorter loop, or cross the bridge over Buckquarter Creek to add in the Holden's Mill Trail. The loop for Holden's Mill begins immediately after crossing the bridge. Again, you can go either way, but I chose right first to come back along the river. The trail then begins a long, but not-too-steep climb up a ridge to the top of a hill above the Eno. Unfortunately, at least in the summer, there are no views although I did spot a deer hightailing it in the other direction. The trail emerges in a power line cut that provides some views, then descends to a small creek. At this creek, you can either cross for a quick loop out to the ruins of Holden's Mill or continue on this side of the creek for a shorter hike.

Crossing Buckquarter Creek to the Holden's Mill Trail

I crossed the stream to go to the mill. The trail splits for another loop, and I, again, went right. The trail rises up a small hill and then looks down on the mill. There are three large stone walls visible, which seem to have been the mill and the water wheel canal. Also visible down next to the river are the remains of a dam. Continue along the trail and it will drop you down to the river, along which you will hike all the way back to your car. The lower side of the loop takes you to the remains of the dam. The trail down here is sometimes hard to distinguish as it climbs over boulders, and even where it is obvious, it is narrower and a little more overgrown with grasses, but just stay along the river, and you are sure not to get lost. Just use your common sense on where the trail should go and you'll be fine--I never got lost with this method. At the point where it seems like the trail goes down the mill canal, stay right to walk along the river and not in the mill canal. This trail will eventually take you right up to the ruins where you could explore them, if you wanted, but I didn't because I'm sure snakes just love hiding out in all those rocks.

I love the Eno

Holden's Mill

Continue along the river in a really neat section with lots of boulders that reminds me a lot of rivers in New England. The trail returns to the small creek where you should go right to finish the Holden's Mill Loop. The trail continues over large boulders, crosses under power lines, then turns up Buckquarter Creek to cross back over the bridge to return to Buckquarter Creek Trail (go right to finish the loop), which follows the river. The trail here is exposed and can get quite hot on a sunny summer day, but it is pretty scenic too as it rises right above the river climbing over stone stairs, walking along a beautiful cascade, and over wooden stairs before returning to Fews Ford, from where it is a short walk to your car.

Big rocks on the Eno

Buckquarter Creek Trail rising above the Eno

The great swimming spot on the Eno

Below is a GPS-generated map of this hike.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Occoneechee Mountain

Hike: Occoneechee Mountain
Location: Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
Nearby Town: Hillsborough
Elevation (Max): 867'
Elevation Gained: 455'
Mileage: 3.2
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Take either Exit 261 from I-40 or Exit 164 from I-85. Head north on Old North Carolina 86. Turn L on Orange Grove Rd. Turn R on Virginia Cates Rd, park in the dirt lot.
Web Site:

At 867 feet, Occoneechee Mountain is the highest point in the Triangle. It provides a nice workout compared to relative flatness of many Triangle hikes. There are trail maps at the trailhead along with a pit toilet. The trail is mostly dirt with occasional gravel.

The trail skirting around the mountain

The trail leaves the parking lot going up and eventually skirting around the summit. It then curves around the far side of the mountain along the Eno River before arriving at an imposing view of the old quarry that was here.

Eno River

Trail between bluffs and the Eno

The old quarry

The trail then climbs to an overlook from the top of the quarry, which was closed when we were there due to instability and rock slides.

Sounds scary to me

The hike continues to the summit along a gravel auto road. The summit is not very impressive with no views to speak of, and the summit is dominated by a large communications tower. Backtrack to the Cox Mountain Loop and continue around the mountain through thick stands of mountain laurel--rare in the Triangle, past two ponds, and back to the parking lot. A hike at Occoneechee is best followed up with an ice cream at the nearby Maple View Farms. Below is a GPS-generated map of this hike.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Eno River-Cox Mountain

Hike: Cox Mountain
Location: Eno River State Park
Nearby Town: Durham
Elevation (Max): 674'
Elevation Gained: 485'
Mileage: 4.39
Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead: Take Exit 170 off I-85 onto US-70 West. Take first right onto Pleasant Green Rd. Follow signs. Go left on Cole Mill Rd, enter the park, and follow road to the end for parking and trailhead.
Web Site:

Stairs down to the Eno

Maps are available at the trailhead. Follow the cement sidewalk through the picnic area to the trail which leads down a hill. Follow this trail which will bring you down to the Eno River and eventually to a suspension foot bridge. Cross the bridge, which can be a bit exciting as the bridge bounces and swings with each step. Continue on the trail until the trail splits. At this point, the loop begins, and you can either go left or continue straight. I went left to get the climb out of the way at the beginning of the hike.

Swinging bridge

Across the Eno

The trail climbs pretty steeply for a while before reaching a cut in the forest for power lines near the summit. The trail then descends down the other side of the hill back to the Eno. Follow the trail along the Eno where you will see some cascades, several turtles, and I also saw a pool of water about 3 feet deep on the opposite side of the trail from the river with 5 fish in it. They must have gotten trapped there after a heavy rain when the river was high. I wonder how long that pool a) has been there and b) will last, especially now that it's summer and temps will be in the 90s for the next few months.

Near the summit of Cox Mountain in the power line cut

Back to the Eno

The trail then turns away from the river and crosses power lines. At the next trail junction, you can go right to complete the loop and retrace your steps back to the parking. I chose to go left, though, and recommend doing the same. This brings you through the campground at Fanny's Ford (I wanted to check out the campground in case I want to camp here sometime in the future). Walk through the entire campground, past the pit toilet, and back to the river, and turn right. This trail walks along the river through a very neat section where the river goes through a long cascade around and over rocks, including a section with a small waterfall followed by a pool, which leads into another small waterfall. Several people were swimming in this section of the river, and I was very envious seeing as it was absolutely beautiful, and I was very hot on this 90 degree day.

Popular swimming hole

AMAZING spot to cool off on a summer day

The trail eventually reaches Fews Ford, where it turns right. Follow the trail, keeping left at the junction where the trail meets the Cox Mountain Trail. From here, you will soon finish the loop and retrace your steps back to the car. This is the best hike I've been on in Eno, and the river was really beautiful in this area with lots of cascades and the clearest river water I've seen in the Triangle. I returned two days later with my girlfriend to swim in the same spot I watched several people swimming on this hike, it was truly enjoyable. Below is a GPS-generated map of this hike.