Cox Mountain Trail is one of the longest individual trails on the Eno, except for the Laurel Ridge and Mountains-to-Sea trails. It is typically accessed from the loop parking lot at the very end of Cole Mill Road. From the end loop lot, simply follow the trail to the right. There is a split to the left on the bluff, before you head downhill that goes to the Eno Trace Nature Trail. Stay to the right, alongside some split rail fencing, then go downhill and over the cable suspension bridge on the near (east) side of the river. At the other side of the river, there is a shelter to the left, and the trail continues straight, slightly uphill. Where the trail turns sharply to the right you will see a sawhorse warning you that there is no trail beyond – though clearly there is. This is one of many abandoned old roadbeds that still traverse the park and can be walked if you have GPS or really good reckoning skills.
Let’s assume you followed the trail to the right, you will be presented with an option to go uphill to the left or continue straight. Both are Cox Mountain Trail. I generally go uphill at this point to get the uphill grunt out of the way. Further straight loops around the opposite direction, but also access Fanny’s Ford Trail and campsites 1 through 5.
Assuming you went up to the left over the mountain, you will find it emerges into a powerline cut and back into the woods beyond. It will follow the hilltop for a short way, and begin a slower descent to the river’s edge. Look on the opposite bank at this point – that is the old Holden’s Mill foundations – often difficult to see from this bank. Follow the river downstream, past several great lunch rocks in the river, and duck back into the woods uphill and away from the river. You will re-cross the powerline cut, and descend to a 3-way split in the trail. Be observant here as the third split is slightly down the obvious split. Your options here are to continue straight on the Cox Mountain Trail, or cut left onto the Fanny’s Ford Trail, and the Campsite access trail. The trail will jog to the right, will be rejoined by the other end of the Fanny’s Ford Trail, and eventually rejoin the point where you wentt uphill over Cox Mountain. Follow the trail back to the suspension Bridge and uphill to the parking lot.