Our Oldest Hike Series – Spring Wildflowers

Dutchman’s Breeches. Photo by Duncan Heron.

The Eno River Association invites you to enjoy the Eno this spring with our Spring Hike Series, a tradition since 1969. Some of our spring hikes will showcase the wildflowers that bloom along the Eno, while others will visit a historical site or follow a scenic path along the river. The Eno River is home to a large variety of blooming flowers, including hepatica and trout lily in March, Dutchman’s breeches and yellow lady slipper in April, and rhododendron and mountain laurel in May.

View Wildflower Portfolio

These free, guided hikes are open to the public. See directions, highlights and schedule below. Check the Google calendar on our home page for any last minute changes to the schedule. Hikes begin at 2:00 pm unless otherwise listed every Sunday from March through May. Hikes generally are between 2 and 3 hours long.
For weather updates contact the Eno River Association at 919-620-9099, ext. 211 during business hours (phone messages are not answered), or e-mail hike@enoriver.org.

Eno River Association Spring Hikes Info

1. Wildflower highlights listed will vary based on the weather and flowering times each year. New hikes and programs will be added to the schedule as soon as details are confirmed. Not all spring hikes lead to a destination with blooming wildflowers.

2. Hikes are free but donations are welcome,- consider becoming a member of the Eno River Association!

3. Hikes start at 2:oo pm  and are 1 1/2 – 2 hours unless otherwise listed.

4. Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early to park, get to the meeting location, and sign in with the hike leaders.  Your hike leader will be displaying a white Eno River bandanna.

5. Wear good walking shoes or boots.

6. Recommendations

  • Dress for the weather, whatever it is – sun or rain, cold or hot.
  • Wear long pants due to some poison ivy on off-trail sections.
  • Bring water and trail snacks (you will be out for ~2 hrs+).
  • There are some great photo ops, so consider bringing a camera.
  • A wildflower guide is also a nice option. Not all hike leaders are wildflower experts, so come prepared to do your own research & make your own discoveries as well. Don’t have a field guide? Check one out from your local library or borrow from a friend.
  • Most hikes allow for well behaved, leashed dogs unless the hike description indicates “no dogs”.


2017 Spring Hikes Schedule

Sunday, March 4, 2018
Annual Source of the Eno Pilgrimage
2:00 pm           Annual Source of the Eno Pilgrimage – In the year 2000, Riverdave carefully studied the streams of northern Orange County that might be considered the Eno River’s most distant source. He delineated that spot to be a pond on the West Fork of the Eno River on property owned by the Hoyt Wright family. On a hillside above this pond, the Neuse, Cape Fear and Roanoke River basins converge. From there the Eno flows forty miles southeast to finally empty into Falls Lake. With permission from the property owners, we will continue the Eno River Association’s annual pilgrimage to this auspicious spot, walking the final mile together. see http://theborderlife.com/Source-of-the-Eno.php. Please register by email at riverdave52@gmail.com.   There is a 30 person limit for this pilgrimage.
Directions: From highway 70 in north Hillsborough, take highway 86 north 10.7 miles. You will see a sign for McCullough Road. Turn left on McCullough and go half mile. On the left side of the road, park in field in front of barn at 2PM. If you need clarification about directions or possible cancellation of hike due to weather conditions, call Riverdave at home beforehand (not cell) 919-489-2934.  Please note that because we will be traversing private property, no dogs are allowed on this pilgrimage.


Sunday, March 11 2018

Eno River State Park

Pump Station Trail 1.5 miles

2:00     Leaving Rivermont Road we will follow the old road to the river.  Going past Coons Foot Island to the Pump Station (Durham’s first public water supply).  We will be exploring the history of the area, Nancy Rhodes Creek, spring wildflowers and Doctor Holloway watermelon patch.  Meet in the parking lot at the church on the corner of Sparger and Cole Mill Road.   We’ll lead you from there.  No dogs please.    Easy walking and much talking.

Directions: From Interstate I-85 exit 173 take Cole Mill Road north to the intersection of Sparger Road at the traffic light.  Meet in the Northside Christian Church parking lot on the left corner.  From Pleasant Green and Umstead Roads take Cole Mill Road south toward Durham to the Sparger Road intersection and the church parking lot will be on the right.


Sunday, March 18, 2018
Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve
Willie Duke’s Bluff Wildflowers
2:00 pm           (Allow 3 hours for this hike)

This hike is somewhat difficult and will be off trail, with some bushwhacking and one steep climb. This usually requires about three hours.  If there have been recent rains, parts of the trail may be muddy. The hike will lead you to a noteworthy natural area called Willie Duke’s Bluff where you see outstanding displays of spring wildflowers, including some that are rare and unusual in our area of the Piedmont.

The site boasts a showy display of spring ephemerals, with extensive areas of Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), along with the rare Eastern False Rue Anemone or Isopyrum (Enemion biternatum) and numerous other wildflowers, including Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and both Southern or Dimpled Troutlily (Erythronium umbilicatum), and its northern, tetraploid counterpart (E. americanum).  The shrub layer consists of Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), and Painted Buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica), which will be in various stages of flowering.  Wear sturdy shoes and long pants, and bring gloves in case you feel inclined to pull out any invasive Chinese privet seedlings which you might encounter. You will also learn some history and geology along the way.

Directions: Coming from the west, take Duke Street North from I-85 (Exit 176). Turn right on Murray Avenue (sign to the Museum of Life and Science), go until it reaches Roxboro Street, turn left and look for the brown sign to Stagville. [Coming from the east, you can take Roxboro Street directly from I-85.] Turn right here on Old Oxford Road. Go about three miles until Old Oxford crosses the Eno. Immediately after the bridge, turn left on Snowhill Road. Penny’s Bend parking lot will be on the left immediately after you turn.


Sunday, March 25, 2018
Penny Bend Nature Preserve 2 Miles
2:00 pm         This trail passes through open fields, deep forests, and rocky outcrops in less than two miles.   Easy to moderate walking with one short, steep stretch that rewards with a bluff-top view of the river. Penny’s Bend is a horseshoe bend in the river formed by this hard diabase rock. The underlying diabase here makes the soil basic, supporting plants unusual to the Piedmont. Spring wildflowers abound, including spectacular displays of Dutchman’s Breeches some years. If there have been recent rains, parts of the trail may be muddy and a walking stick is helpful.

Link to a map of the trails at Penny’s Bend: http://enotrails.com/pennys-bend-area.htm

Directions: Coming from the west, take Duke Street North from I-85 (Exit 176). Turn right on Murray Avenue (sign to the Museum of Life and Science), go until it reaches Roxboro Street, turn left and look for the brown sign to Stagville. [Coming from the east, you can take Roxboro Street directly from I-85.] Turn right here on Old Oxford Road. Go about three miles until Old Oxford crosses the Eno. Immediately after the bridge, turn left on Snowhill Road. Penny’s Bend parking lot will be on the left immediately after you turn.


Sunday, April 1, 2018
Confluence Natural Area
Spring Wildflowers 2.25 miles
2:00 pm    Join us to hike the trails where the East and West Forks come together to form the Eno River.  We will see both forks of the river and their junction, visit the historic Shepherd Mill site, and identify flowers in bloom along the way.  The confluence is not open to the public so the only way to hike it is on an Eno River Association event.  Terrain is easy to moderate.

Directions: From Hillsborough Highway 70 north of town, take Hwy 86 north and turn left on Coleman Loop Road at Major Business Forms.  Take the 2nd paved left on Highland Farm Road.  Cross the East Fork of the Eno (unmarked) bridge and the driveway is the next left.  Address: 4214 Highland Farm Road, Hillsborough, NC   27278


Sunday, April 8, 2018 

Eno River State Park                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Pea Creek and Dunnagan Trails   3.1 miles                                                                                                                                                                                                        2:00 pm     This is a figure 8 loop hike passing Buzzard Rock, crossing the Pea Creek Bridge, Catherine Dunnagan’s grave, and the remains of the Pump Station Dam.  Half the hike is on a beautiful stretch of river and the rest through rolling hills of forest.  Along the way we will look at what’s blooming.          Directions:    From I-85 take exit 173 north away from Durham 3 miles. Turn left at the traffic light into the Cole Mill Access on Old Cole Mill Rd. From Pleasant Green Road drive 1 mile south toward Durham and turn right onto old Cole Mill Road.  From Umstead Road cross Cole Mill Road at the traffic light onto Old Cole Mill.  The address is 4390 Old Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC 27712.  Meet at the Pea Creek Trail head at the end of the parking lot.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

West Point on the Eno                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  South River and Buffalo Trails 1.1 miles

2:00 pm     We expect the mountain laurel to be in bloom for this stroll along the river. Our guide will also tell us what is blooming underfoot. This trail has small hills and is generally dry, with views of the river and Warren Creek.                                                                                                                                                            Directions: Meet at the dam across the Eno River above the West Point Mill. The address is: 5101 Roxboro Rd, Durham, NC 27704. Use the main entrance on the south side of the river from Roxboro Rd, across from Riverview shopping center.

Sunday, April 22, 2018
Eno River State Park
Pump Station Wildflowers     1.5 miles
2:00 pm           This is a hike on a well maintained trail.  With luck and the right flowering time, you might see a Ladyslipper orchid! This is an easy hike with a few gentle hills and is known for the beauty of the wildflowers that bloom each spring.
Directions: Meet your hike leader at the parking lot at the Northside Christian Church at the corner of Cole Mill and Sparger Roads, Durham. The address is 3901 Cole Mill Road, Durham, NC  27712.  You will carpool a short distance to the trail head to begin your hike.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Wildflowers on the Speedway

2:00PM           Where once stock cars thundered around the mile long oval of the historic Occoneechee Speedway, now quiet trails meander through woods, old fields, and along the Eno River. On this hike the trails are easy to gentle grades. We will wander around and see what is blooming and imagine what it was like when Richard Petty and Junior Johnson were tearing around the track.                                                                                                             Directions: Meet at the Occoneechee Speedway parking lot at 320 Elizabeth Brady Rd, Hillsborough, NC 27278,


Sunday, May 6, 2018                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Panther Branch Natural Area Wildflowers                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       2:00 PM            This hike is limited to 20 participants, see below to register.  Panther’s Branch is the newest natural area on the Eno River, purchased by the Eno River Association in 2016, who will also manage it.  It is not yet open to the public so this is your chance to explore it.  We will seek out wildflowers on the river and it’s tributary Panther Branch, and the forest upland.  There are trails to walk but we will step off trail some to view flowers.  Directions will be sent to registered participants about a week before the hike.  To register e-mail education@enoriver.org or call (919)620-9099 ext. 204.

Sunday, May 13, 2018
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
Mother’s Day Hike     3.0 miles
2:00 pm            Explore the highest hill in Orange County on the Occoneechee Mountain Loop and Chestnut Oak Trails.   If the blooming cycle is right we may  see Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel flowering and a plant community more typically found in the NC mountains. Our hike leader will introduce you to this special mountain habitat right here at home! Blooming of wildflowers can be unpredictable, but we will be sure to see some wonderful plants growing in this unique habitat.  We will stop off for a scenic overlook of western Orange County and Hillsborough.
Directions: Take exit #164 from I-85. Turn north toward Hillsborough on Churton Street. Turn left on Mayo Street; go past a small shopping center. Turn left on Orange Grove Road. After less than one mile, turn right on Virginia Cates Drive (gravel) just before Orange Grove passes under the interstate. The parking lot is on the left after the ponds.  The address is 620 Virginia Cates Rd, Hillsborough, NC   27278