Fall weather has finally arrived here in North Carolina, and one thing that Corona hasn't changed is what a beautiful time of year it is to be outside! Which is great, because being outside is on a quickly dwindling list of approved activities in the time of a global pandemic. My kids were recently on their fall break- which feels incredibly similar to just another day of "school" because they never leave our sight- but I digress. We took the opportunity to explore Eno River State Park, and I was shocked by how incredible the trails were and how much we all enjoyed our time on them. If you're looking for an activity, here are some tips for an awesome outing!
Eno Rive State Park is a sprawling area with 5 different access points to over 30 miles of trails along forested elevations, rocky bluffs and, of course, the picturesque namesake Eno River. I spent some time studying the website to determine which hike would best suit our family to determine which access to use as our starting point. For the Cox Mountain Loop, we needed to head to Cole Mill Rd, and with a 4 mile hike in our future, we needed to stop for fuel first. Luckily I found the perfect restaurant, Picnic, just down the road in Durham. A charming outdoor area with red umbrellas, string lights and picnic tables with the mouth-watering aroma of the BBQ pits was the perfect spot to enjoy our lunch. Between the four of us we were able to try lots of dishes! The stand-outs were the ribs- perfectly smokey and tender with just the right amount of a tangy-sweet sauce; brisket cheese fries which were just as decadent and satisfying as they sound; and a bacon cheeseburger which my son deemed among the best he's ever had. The Brunswick stew was a little bland and the macaroni and cheese was thin and soupy, so stick with the smoked meats and you definitely won't be disappointed.
Appropriately stuffed, we drove just a few miles down Cole Mill Rd. to our access point parking. The trails were well-marked and easy to follow. I chose this trail because of the length- 4 miles seemed worthy of a day-trip, and it was listed as more strenuous with elevation changes that I thought would be a fun challenge for my kids, ages 7 and 9. And I like to challenge them because honestly, they're nicer when they're tired. The river was truly beautiful and there was a fun suspension footbridge at the beginning of the hike. We skipped rocks in the river, enjoyed the tranquility of the forest, saw a black snake and turtles along the way, and generally enjoyed each other's company.
I'm embarrassed that it took us this long to make our first trip here, and Eno River State Park is definitely a place that we will be coming back to again and again. If you and yours are looking for new spots to explore, I also highly recommend nctripping.com for fresh ideas about what our whole state has to offer. If there's a silver lining to this pandemic, seeing your own area through new eyes just might be it!
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