While North Carolina’s mountains offer the best views and hiking trails in the state, the Triangle also offers plenty of options for those looking to save gas.
Here are three options for those looking to stay in the Triangle, but still want incredible views on a hike:
William B. Umstead State Park
William B. Umstead State Park in Wake County has two separate entrances that visitors can access:
- Access to Crabtree Creek and Visitor Center at 8801 Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh.
- Access to Reedy Creek at 2100 N. Harrison Ave. in Cary.
The park has over 20 visitor-accessible trails ranging from 0.40 miles to over 13 miles. According to North Carolina State Parks, “hikers, trail runners, bikers, and horseback riders treasure the park’s extensive network of hiking and multi-use trails.”
Those looking for a short hike can try the Oak Rock Trail, which is a 0.60 mile loop. The trail will cross a small stream and will have masonry work for a check dam and culvert.
Park visitors looking for a more challenging hike can take the Sycamore Trail, which is a 7.20 mile loop. North Carolina State Parks says the trail mostly follows Sycamore Creek and features sycamores growing in the park.
Some animals that visitors can expect to see in the park include great blue herons, beavers, and deer. North Carolina State Parks also says William B. Umstead offers “a view of unique North Carolina flora and fauna.”
Eno River State Park
Eno River State Park has five Durham access points for visitors:
- Few Access Fords and Park Office at 6101 Cole Mill Rd.
- Access Cabelands at 4950 Howe St.
- Access Cole Mill at 4390 Old Cole Mill Rd.
- Access Pleasant Green at 4770 Pleasant Green Rd.
- Access to the pumping station at 4023 Rivermont Rd.
North Carolina State Parks describes the park’s trails as a “journey to tranquility.” The park offers over a dozen trails for visitors to choose from.
Those looking for a shorter hike can try the Cole Mill Trail, a one-mile loop, which begins at the Cole Mill picnic area. The trail is described as an “easy climb along the river”.
A slightly longer trail that visitors can try is the 3.75-mile Cox Mountain Trail, which begins at the Few Fords Picnic Area. Hikers will cross the river on a suspended walkway and climb 270 meters above sea level from the river to the top of the hill. Be careful though, North Carolina State Parks warns that a long, steep ascent and descent is required on the trail.
While visiting the park, you might get lucky and see chipmunks, otters or a bobcat, according to North Carolina State Parks.
Flower lovers are in luck with the mountain laurel, Catawba rhododendron, and ferns that grow on the slopes and cliffs of the park. In fact, those who want to take a short 0.80 mile hike can visit the Pumphouse Trail, which is known “as the best spring wildflower trail in the park.” Visitors can access the trail at the Nancy Road Creek Bridge on Rivermont Road.
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area has two access points in Durham and Orange counties for visitors:
- 625 Virginia Cates Road. in Hillsborough.
- 6101 Cole Mill Rd. in Durham.
The area has three miles of visitor trails that allow visitors to explore the riverside forests and cliffs. At 350 feet above the River Eno, the mountain’s summit is said to be 350 feet the highest point between Hillsborough and the Atlantic Ocean. It is also the highest point in Orange County.
A short 0.10 mile loop that visitors can take in the area is the Overlook Trail. The trail will take visitors through “mature oak forest and scenic views,” says North Carolina State Parks.
The longest trail in the area is the Occoneeche Mountain Loop Trail, a 2.20 mile loop. North Carolina State Park says it’s an “exhilarating ride over steep terrain and along the peaceful Eno River.”
The acorns and berries produced by the region’s chestnut trees allow visitors to see deer, marmots and wild turkeys when visiting.
Nearby, visitors can get a taste of history at Historic Occoneechee Speedway. Rusty cars can be found on the hiking trails near the expressway.