Tis the Season to Take a Hike

Eno River Tributary on the Matheson Property. Photo credit Fred Myers.


By Laurie Paolicelli

Ah, Orange County’s beauty. A hush falls over the woods in winter. But the quiet unlocks a secret world that you miss out on during summer hiking. Without leaves on the trees, sound travels further and is more acute: the beat of a bird’s wings as it lifts from a branch, or the scuttle of a squirrel nosing about for its acorn stash.

Love to walk? There’s no reason to stop in the winter. In fact, if you like to hike, it’s a great way to enjoy the special beauty of the season.

Many trails are stunning in the winter and offer more dramatic views, winter wonderlands and quiet solitude.

Here are some suggestions worth bundling up for.

Winter Hikers

January 2020 Hikes

January 3, 2020
Meteor Shower Hike at Brumley Nature Preserve – South
8:00 pm10:00 pm

Join TLC at Brumley Nature Preserve – South for a night hike to see the Quadrantid meteor shower! We will hike with headlamps and flashlights down to an open area of the preserve in order to have the best view. Bring a chair or tarp to sit on, and dress warmly!

This is a free event but pre-registration is required.

January 4, 2020
Envision the New Year with Triangle Land Conservancy
Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve
10:00 am12:00 pm

January 5, 2020
Eno River State Park, Fews Ford Access
Mountain Trail 4.1 miles
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm 

This hike through the beautiful oaks of Cox Mountain will focus a lot on the geology of the mountain and river, but we also talk some about the history and natural history.

Directions: Meet at Fews Ford Picnic Area at the end of Cole Mill Road.  6101 Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC

January 11, 2020
Power Hike
Johnston Mill Nature Preserve
9:00 am – 10:30 am

Find a new way to connect with nature with a power hike at Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. This is a great event for those looking to get some serious exercise. Leashed dogs are welcome to join.

The hike will be approximately 3 miles long with a goal pace of 15 minutes per mile.

This is a free event, but pre-registration is required.

January 12, 2020
Eno River State Park, Cabelands Access
Cabe Lands to Sparger Lodge  2.2 miles
2:00 pm 

This hike is an opportunity to visit history left behind by early residents of the Eno. We will hike to the ruins of the old Cabe Mill and Sparger hunting lodge, along with a visit to the Cabe/Shields cemetery. Be prepared for short excursions off the trail into the woods, including hiking up and down wooded slopes.

Directions: Meet in the Cabelands parking lot, at the end of Howe Street, off of Sparger Road in Durham (4950 Howe Street, Durham NC, 27705)

January 19, 2020
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
2:00 pm  

This 3.5 mile hike of medium endurance is an opportunity to explore the history of early residents, the geology and flora along the Eno River at Occoneechee Mountain. Meet along Eno Mountain Road on the south side of the Eno River in Hillsborough known as the “historical entrance to Occoneechee Mountain

January 26, 2020
Eno River State Park, Fews Ford Access
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm  

Buckquarter Creek/Holden Mill Trails, 4.1 miles

Hike the most scenic stretch of the Eno River past many rock outcrops and rapids to the stone ruins of the old Holden Mill. This includes a long walk along the river as well as up some long hill climbs through beautiful old hardwood forest.

Meet at Piper-Cox House off Cole Mill Road. The address is 6101 Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC  27705. After entering the state park gate take the 2nd right to the parking lot.

Free, no registration required. For more 2020 hikes, click here.

What better way to start the New Year than by expanding your winter adventures envelope.

Happy Trails to You.

Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.

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