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 more information, contact the Eno River Association at 919-620-9099, ext. 211 during business hours (phone messages will not be answered on weekends), or e-mail hike@enoriver.org.


2017 Spring Hikes Schedule

Sunday, March 5, 2017
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 12, 2017                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Eno River State Park                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pump Station Trail 1.5 miles                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     2:00 pm              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 19, 2017
Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve
Willie Duke’s Bluff Wildflowers
2:00 pm            This hike is somewhat difficult and will be off trail, with some bushwhacking and one steep climb. A longer hike, be prepared to be out for over two 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. You will also learn some history and geology along the way.  Allow 3 hours for this hike.
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 26, 2017
Flat River
2:00 pm            This Eno River Spring Hike is unique in that it is not on the Eno River, but on the nearby Flat River, in a section with spectacular spring ephemeral wildflowers.  The hike starts and ends along the gravel access roads in the floodplain of the Flat River above Falls Lake.  We will walk about a half mile before entering the levee floodplain forest in a wide bend of the Flat River.  Once in the woods there is no defined trail, but the terrain is relatively flat and the vegetation is open.  This site is one of the significant natural heritage sites recorded on Corps of Engineers land at Falls Lake.  The site boasts a showy display of spring ephemerals, with acres of Dutchman’s Breeches, along with abundant and rare Enemion biternatum (Eastern False Rue Anemone) and numerous other wildflowers.  The shrub layer consists of spicebush, pawpaw, and painted buckeye, which will be in various stages of flowering.  Wear sturdy shoes and long pants, and bring gloves if you are inclined to pull out any invasive Chinese privet seedlings we are likely to encounter.   During the hike we’ll discuss the bedrock geology, soils and soil chemistry, geomorphology and fluvial processes, and cultural history of the site, which also happens to straddle the Indian Trading Path where it crosses the Flat at a natural ford.
Directions: We will meet at the NC-Wildlife Resources Commission Subimpoundment A parking lot on Old Oxford Highway, on the right heading north, just before Lake Michie Dam Road.  Here is the GoogleMap link to the meeting point:  https://goo.gl/maps/yFKvxLC3zps, or enter this lat/long in any map app:  36.1276, -78.8327.

Sunday, April 2, 2017
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 9, 2017
Confluence Natural Area
Spring Wildflowers
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 16, 2017                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Eno River State Park
Buckquarter Creek, Holden Mill, Ridge, & Shakori Trails     6.8 miles
2:00 pm    Join us on a leg stretcher along the river and up the rolling hills through miles of hardwood forest.  This hike is a combination of 3 connected loops.  We will pass the most scenic rapids on the Eno, climb over and around large boulders, visit the Holden Mill ruins, walk paths that date back to the 1800’s, and pass old home sites.  There are a couple of long up hill stretches.                                                                                                                                                          Directions: From Durham take Cole Mill Road north until entering the Fews Ford Access.  Once entering the park gate, take the 2nd right hand turn and park in the Piper-Cox parking lot, at the Buckquarter Creek Trail head.  The address is 6101 Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC   27705

Sunday, April 23, 2017
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 30, 2017
Eno River State Park
Laurel Bluffs Trail      5.0 Miles
2:00 pm   Description:   This hike is five mile hike on fairly easy terrain.  We will walk 2.5 miles from Guess Road to the Pump Station and take the same path back.  One of the first things we will encounter are the ruins of the Guess Mill.  The mountain laurel may be in bloom.                                                            Directions : Meet at the Eno River Association office at 4404 Guess Road, Durham, NC 27712.

Sunday, May 7,2017                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Eno River State Park                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Pea Creek & Dunnagan Trails   3.1 miles                                                                                                                                                                                                             2:00 pm     Description: Moderate trails that make a figure 8 with a lot of time walking along the beautiful Eno River.  Cross the Pea Creek bridge, see the grave site of Katherine Dunnagan, step over the footing of the Pump Station Dam, speculate as to how Buzzard Rock got its name.  On the upland side pass through forest that sustained heavy damage in 1996 from Hurricane Fran and see how its recovery after 20 years.                                                                                  Directions: From I-85 exit 173 take Cole Mill Road north 3 miles, turn left on old Cole Mill Road at the traffic light.  Drive into the Cole Mill Access and meet at the end of the parking lot at the Pea Creek Trail head.   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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017
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.

Saturday, June 3, 2017                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Eno River State Park – Cole Mill Access                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Bobbitt Hole National Trails Day Hike  2.6 miles                                                                                                                                                                                                    10:00 am  Join the Eno River Association when we celebrate National Trails Day with a guided hike to Bobbitt Hole.  This 2.6 mile trail is half on the scenic Eno River and half through moderate rolling hills.  The destination is Bobbitt Hole, one of the iconic views on the Eno and the deepest known place in the river.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Directions:  Meet at the Cole Mill Access of Eno River State Park in the picnic shelter parking lot.  Cole Mill Access is north of Durham at the end of Old Cole Mill Road which intersects with Umstead and Cole Mill Roads 3 miles north of I85.

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 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.

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.