Can I call the Eno majestic? It certainly defines this area. And there is no better place to enjoy it than the Eno River State Park in Durham.
Of course, my family HAS enjoyed it in other places…like West Point on the Eno, Occoneechee Mountain, Poet’s Walk at Ayr Mount, and Gold Park in Hillsborough. But paired with West Point on the Eno this State Park system perserves over 9 miles of the Eno River, the most, and it is worth it. Within the state park itself there are over 28 miles of trails. That’s a lot to tackle.
I love hiking here as a family. There is always a trail perfect for us (with varying difficulties and lengths), always a geocache to be found, and lots of land to get lost in.
None of these trails are suitable for strollers. Bring your infant or toddler in a carrier and enjoy the views! Some of the trails can get packed on the weekend but there is always lots of nature for all to enjoy so don’t hesitate. You can slip away from the pack soon enough. And most trailheads have rudimentary bathroom facilities.
Note that the Eno River is not really suitable for swimming. In some places there can be a pretty strong current. That said, little toes dipped in fresh river water is fine, but don’t go diving in head first.
The best park map is here: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/enri/pics/parkmap.pdf. My family and I have done Cole Mill trail and Bobbitt Hole trail and thoroughly enjoyed both. These seem to be the most popular trails with families, too, as the access is easy from the parking lot (the Cole Mill parking area) and the trails are relatively easy 1.2 and 1.65 mile loops, respectively.
We appreciated that we didn’t have to pay to enter (unless we missed something?) and are now finding that we feel like thetrails we haven’t experienced yet are challenging us. The Cox Mountain trail boasts a suspension bridge; Pump Station trail has Durham’s first water pumping station (what does that even mean!? we have to see it!); and the Ridge trail has three 19th century homes along it.
There is so much more to explore.
No playgrounds in this state park. Just got old nature-lovin’. They do hold quite a few events in the park that are interesting so perhaps trying out one of these can entertain your family in a new way, and in a way that doesn’t involve Frozen.
There are hike-in camping facilities (0.5 to 1.2 miles from car to campsite) available as well, see this link here, spots to put in your canoe/kayak, and a lot of picnic shelters available for use.
Get out there and enjoy the natural beauty the Triangle offers us.
Eno River State Park
6101 Cole Mill Road