Nearby Town: Durham, NC
Elevation (Max): 496'
Elevation Gained: ~280'
Trailhead: From I-85, take Exit 173 and head south on Cole Mill Rd. Turn right on Hillsborough Rd/Rte 70. Turn right on Sparger Rd, then turn left on Howe St and the parking for Cabe Lands (the section of Eno River State Park that contains this hike) will be on the right near a mobile home park.
From the Durham Freeway (Rte 147), take Exit 16A and then immediately take Exit 108D onto Hillsborough Rd (Rte 70). Turn left and then follow the above instructions to Sparger Rd.
From 15/501, take Exit 108D and head west on Hillsborough Rd. Then follow the above directions to Sparger Rd.
Web Site: http://ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/enri/main.php
I had heard about the Eno Quarry as a popular swimming hole during the summer, and I clearly have a penchant for hiking around anything with the name Eno, so I decided to check it out. The trailhead is in a bit of an odd location down a residential street across from a mobile home park, but you quickly leave all that behind as you head down the trail towards the river. There are two trails that can, and should, be connected in a circuit on this hike.
As you begin the hike on the first trail, you come to a junction where you can go straight or left. You can really go either way because these trails are loops, but I decided to go straight and I returned on the trail to the left. When I did this hike it was early spring, and it was an encouraging sight passing multiple patches on daffodils in bloom along the trail. Just before reaching the river, the trail passes by the remains of the mill race of the Cabe Mill that used to sit along the banks of the Eno here. The trail turns left along the Eno River and follows it for a bit, which is always enjoyable. At some point, the trail turns away from the river and comes to a junction. If you go left here, you get back to the parking lot (this is eventually the way you will return), but for now go right to get to Eno Quarry.
This is now the second trail that you can use to make a circuit. There is a sign at this junction pointing you toward the Eno Quarry Trail. The hike to the quarry is pretty quick and easy with one somewhat tricky stream crossing (the stream isn't dangerous or deep, but you do have to rock hop). After the stream crossing, you've reached the loop around the four acre quarry. You can go left or right along the high banks above the quarry. This quarry was dug to provide material to build nearby I-85, and when it was abandoned it filled up with groundwater to make this pond. Since it was a quarry, the pond is very deep and the banks drop off rapidly, so be careful around the edges. There is one area along the northeast corner of the quarry where it looks like there was a ramp for trucks to get into and out of the quarry, so if there is anywhere that you can wade in that's probably it. On the other side of the trail on the east side of the quarry is the Eno River as it travels below a hillside covered in some pretty serious boulders. After doing the loop around the quarry, you can return the way you came, and when you reach the junction from earlier go right to return to the parking lot. I already have a favorite swimming hole along the Eno that is much less deep, so I think I'd pass on joining in, but it would be interesting to come back during the summer to see how busy the quarry gets. Check out the GPS-generated map below.