Monthly Archives: December 2010

Eno River


This was my first trip out to Eno River State Park, and in fact it was the first time I ventured to past downtown.  I found the park a real surprise with a great selection of trails and some decent scenery given its close proximity to Durham.  This was also my first trip out with Josh Carlisle a local friend and fellow consultant.

The temp was around 40 with a bit of a breeze, but the sun was out and the hiking was good.  We parked on the west side near Buckquarter Creek Trail.  We ended up walking the Buckquater Creek Trail, up to the Ridge Trail, then the Shakori Trail and then back on the backside of the Buckquarter Creek Trail.

Eno River from Buckquarter Trail

Eno River from Buckquarter Trail

The Buckquarter Creek Trail is a pretty easy trail that follows the Eno River for a bit.  Its a nice easy stroll with some nice opportunities to grab some pics on the rocks.  About halfway through the path there is a bridge across Buckquarter Creek which leads to the Holden Mill Trail.  We didn’t try that trail this time, but definitely on a future trip.

18th Century House

18th Century House

We hiked on until we reached the Ridge Trail which heads north.  There are a couple of 18th century homes still in the area and made for some real points of interest.  When the Ridge Trail turns back to the Buckquarter Creek we find a rock crossing.  Despite the colder temps and Josh carrying a really nice calendar we crossed the creek and kept on the path up the trail.  The rest of the Ridge Trail and the Shakori trail create a loop near the creek crossing.  There is a bit of elevation change on that side and they are rated as “strenuous” on the park maps.  It didn’t seem overly difficult, but it did get the heart pumping a bit.  One of the nice things about being over there is that the crowds are definitely a bit thinner than the rest of the park.

Ridge Trail Creek Crossing

Ridge Trail Creek Crossing

After completing the loop we headed back down the Ridge Trail back to the Buckquarter Creek trail and completed the high side of the loop there.  Those trails total about 4.5 miles and offered a nice hike with decent elevation changes of at least a few hundred feet.

After getting back to Fews Ford we spent some time walking down the Eno River on an unmarked path that is supposed to lead to a suspension bridge.  We walked for about a third of a mile, but we hadn’t quite reached it yet.  We were running short on time by then so we decided to turn back and head there first on the next trip.

All told, we ended up walking only about five miles and had a lot of fun.  The next trip we will head to the unmarked suspension bridge that leads to the Cox Mountain Trail which offers the highest elevations of the park and a longer hike.

Note:  All photos by Josh Carlisle

Raven Rock – Lillington, NC – Dec 2010


This was the first scheduled hike that I signed up for with the Cary Hiking Meetup Group. While Raven Rock State Park is a bit of a drive from Cary, many have spoken highly of this park. There are a number of trails offering about 12 miles, most of it rated easy.

Unfortunately on this day the temps were in the upper 30s and it started raining shortly before the scheduled meeting time. I decided to go anyway hoping that a few brave souls would still make the journey. Unfortunately I didn’t end up meeting up with anyone from the group. I decided to hike anyway so I grabbed a copy of the trail guide and went on my way. I chose to take the Campbell Creek Loop Trail which is 5 miles rated moderate. At the far end of the loop there is also a short side trails that leads to Lanier Falls which offers some great views.

Despite the temperatures I really enjoyed the hike and was perfectly comfortable. I chose to go clockwise around the loop which had me start off walking through the woods. There was some light elevation changes and a few small streams to cross. Along the way I found this really cool spot. There is a giant rock shelf with a waterfall.

Raven Rock State Park - Cave

Raven Rock State Park - Cave

About the halfway point through the loop I took an opportunity to walk the side trail to Lanier Falls along the Cape Fear river. The trail leads down about 100 feet to the river. With it being wet I had trouble finding a good spot for pictures, but there is a small waterfall and then a decent size island that is about 100′ by 100′. If it were summer and a bit warmer I would have liked to try to see if I could have reached the island. I’m sure the views are great from that spot.

Raven Rock - Lanier Falls

Raven Rock - Lanier Falls

About 3 miles into the hike I’m really hitting my stride and feeling good. It really is a good day to be on the trail and I am really glad that I didn’t back out.

The remainder of the Campbell Creek Loop Trail follows Campbell Creek back to the starting point. It is an interesting creek that feeds the Cape Fear River and offers a number of rock embankments. Here are some additional pics I captured where the creek meets the Cape Fear river.

Raven Rock Cape Fear

Raven Rock Cape Fear

Raven Rock Cape Fear

Raven Rock Cape Fear

Raven Rock also offers a number of primitive camping options.  One of the sites is off of the Campbell Creek Loop so I plan on returning in the spring to try out some new gear before I try and of the bigger parks up in the mountains.

I really like this park and plan to return.  It is a nice place for a workout and offers some nice sights.

Hemlock Bluffs – Cary, NC – Dec 5th 2010


Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is a local park run by the Town of Cary. While it is surrounded by residential areas, it is in a unique spot with unique features. There are a couple of loop trails rated easy that offer a nice experience for hikers of all ages and experience. There are a number of observation areas near the bluffs that offer some great scenic views.

Since this was a winter hike it surprised me that the parking lot was full. It was a great day for a hike though and I walked each of the loops totaling about 3 miles.

Hemlock Bluffs

Overlook on 12/5/2010

My first post!


So here we are with my first post.  I’ve run across a few references that really are drawing me to the trails.  One of them was an article called The Smartest Businessman on the Appalachian Trial.  (http://www.inc.com/magazine/20101101/the-smartest-businessman-on-the-appalachian-trail.html) which profiled Winton Porter’s shop Mountain Crossings in Northern Georgia.  As luck would have it I ran across David Miller’s book AWOL on the Appalachian Trial a few weeks later which I quickly burned through.  (http://www.amazon.com/AWOL-Appalachian-Trail-David-Miller/dp/1935597191/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291572671&sr=8-1)

I  cannot say that I’m an experienced hiker since I have only gone for day hikes.  I lived in Alaska for a few years and went on a number of 5-10 mile hikes then, but those were pretty informal trips.  Now I’m looking to start on more of a journey.  I am a chronic workaholic and have a hard time taking enough vacation time.  Even my non-work time tends to be technology related so I haven’t had sufficient time to decompress.  My mind needs a break, and some time away from technology would be a very good thing.

My initial goals are modest.  I would like to do regular day hikes at least once or twice a week.  I’m in a relatively good area for some simple trails, but Western North Carolina has a rich selection of fantastic trails and sights.  I plan to take at least a few day and multi-day trips next summer around Mt Pisgah.  More on that later, one step at a time.

Aside from the reading I’ve done that sparked my interest I then did a fair amount of research into some essential gear I will need.  I was amazed to find how friendly the folks at REI are.  While I have been in there before, I didn’t wasn’t really paying attention.  At least 4-5 people helped me with questions on different things, and all of them were very cool and seemed very knowledgeable.    I ended up getting a pair of Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boots.  While they are a bit overkill for the local trails I’ll be walking, I think they will be needed for the trips I’ll be taking out west soon enough.  I also picked up a small synch sack to carry some essentials.  I’m a LONG way from needing a full pack for multiday backpacking trips.