A while ago now DH, C, and I hiked the Lower Haw River. The hike was gorgeous, and we loved being so close to the river. The only issue we had was 1- finding the path and 2- staying on the path since it seems to get lost (note that we don’t get lost, the path does).
On the other side of 15/501, still on the Haw, is a hike that is much more readily found and followed and popular. So DH and I tried that out with the kids (now 4 of us!).
A little note about the Haw River: the trail along the Haw River is a 70 mile one that starts in Burlington, NC and goes to Jordan Lake. Thus when you go online to look for information you are predominantly going to see information about the Haw River trails up that-a-way. Even moreso since the Haw River trail is going to, eventually, be part of the Mountains-to-Sea trail and that’s where all the major renos are happening. But there are some great hikes near us and the “Upper” Haw River hike, as we are calling it around here, is a good one.
Unlike the Lower Haw River Hike, this hike has a well marked parking lot just off of 15/501 as you head towards Pittsboro, before you cross the bridge over the Haw. You have easy access down to the water right where the big dam and trail starts (note that this is a kid’s site, so we’re not cursing, we’re being accurate). You can only go one way on foot from here, upriver. So take that path and away you go! Psst!, we really liked looking at the dam and bridge, too.
This path is more well worn so we didn’t find it quite as scenic as the other hike. There was actually a little bit of litter and the flora was well-trodden. What this hike has going for it, though, especially with kids in tow, is accessibility, ease of direction, and access to the River itself for sticking your feet in and indeed getting a full soak if the weather cooperates.
You are going to have to cross some wet spots and some running water along this path so wear appropriate footwear. Our toddler did this walk independently just fine and loved walking on his own – the terrain was easy enough. No strollers on this path though so bring your carrier if you have ones who need it.
Along this path, about a mile from the 15/501 parking lot, you can find an area down near the River called “The Spot” (so we think). Here is rope swing and great access to the water. I will tell you that I was an English major and read way too many novels (most of them disturbing since that is what tortured literary types do best) and The Spot definitely looked to me like a “spot” where some seedy high school happenings could go down. It looks like this is a place where older kids go to camp out for a day of playing hooky – there was litter but the litter was permanent. Think old inflatable rafts to sit on. And some of the equipment doesn’t look too sturdy at all. Of course, we were the only ones there in the middle of the afternoon on a gorgeous weekend, so I am sure I am just being dramatic. In general this is a great big area down near the River with easy access to get in a swim. Just really use your head when letting your kids frolic here.
This area of the Haw is huge for paddling and kayaking. In fact, at the damn and parking lot there is a portage path to get you around the dam – like I said, very kayak friendly around these parts. There is some nice flatwater but the moving water can get to Class 2 and 3 (DH and I did these years and years ago and managed to do it while keeping our beverages upright and open).
Now get out there this weekend and enjoy some outdoors!
“Upper” Haw River Hike
I couldn’t find a great link or map for you, but you can feel free to check these out. In general, from 15/501 S towards Pittsboro you will see the parking lot. Head down to the River and start walking west. It’s actually the only direction you can really go.