Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
250.00 ft (76.20 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
2.20 mi (3.54 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

One of the most pleasant outdoor retreats nestled in The Triangle area of North Carolina is Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. Though small, this park has a fun diversity of terrain and scenery. From fishing ponds to vine-draped riverbanks to clifftop overlooks, the trails connect quite a few settings in a short distance.

Occoneechee Mountain Loop is the premeir trail here. It connects all the best scenery of the area in a loop just over 2 miles round trip. You'll get to enjoy rolling woodland hills, rugged rock formations, a lazy stroll along the river, and a steep climb to a proud overlook. This is the Eno River Overlook, which is the rim of an old quarry. A wooden fence guards the precipice and affords a big view out over the Piedmont. You do have to work for it though, as the trail tops out more than 200 feet above the river. The climb is steep, and the sun is intense in summertime. Most of the loop is in the forest, but one very steep section travels through a shadeless powerline cut.

Take time to notice the ecology around you when hiking here. The forest is especially diverse, and you will see highland species like mountain laurel and rhododendron that normally grow at higher elevations in the western part of the state. The banks of the Eno River are especially lush and quiet. All sounds of the city and nearby interstate are hushed by the thick canopy that fills the valley. Pause to sit on a log by the water and take it all in.

Other trails on the mountain are Chestnut Oak and Brown Elfin Knob. Both can be combined with sections of Occoneechee Mountain Loop to make either a longer or shorter journey. The forest changes dramatically with the seasons, so it's worth coming back to see colors in fall and farther views through leafless trees in winter. The natural area is an easy trip from Durham and right next to the I-40/I-85 junction, which makes it convenient for locals or for those just passing through. There is a toilet at the parking area, but there is no drinking water or other amenities. Be sure to bring the essentials and pack out what you pack in.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Varied scenery. Easy access.

Cons

None.

Trailhead Elevation

640.00 ft (195.07 m)

Highest point

720.00 ft (219.46 m)

Features

Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

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