SECTION TWO: Where the river makes an tight easterly oxbow bend, the powerline cut crosses over to the other side, so you will need to follow the river into the woods. As it makes the sharp southerly turn, you will cross a steep creek, follow it upcreek about 40 yards where it is much shallower and crossable. After that point, stay high. If you follow the riverbank, you will get stuck at some steep rocks on the bank. Staying high on the bluff headed south you will reach the property line for a house at the end of Shady Lane. This house has a large pond at the edge of the State Park Property lines. Immediately south of the pond there is an old roadbed heading back to the river, crossing real close to a makeshift rifle range, old shot up pumpkins were on the 55 gal barrels as we walked by, so be careful! You will come back into the powerline cut at that point, and walk down it, with the River a bit further to your right. Feel free to explore to the river, but it is a bit non-descript at that point.
Eventually, you end up going through some scrub brush along the river to a point where you are approaching some old farm buildings on your left, with a clear grassy access road coming in from Pleasant Green Rd. This is about 75 feet left of the river. It is private property, but only a 400 foot stretch of it. You can avoid tresspass in one of the following ways: 1), obtain permission to trespass (it can be done), 2) ford the river above the abandonded dam to the opposite shore over to the Eno River State Park parking lot, or 3) follow the powerline easement almost due east away from the river, and find Pleasant Green Road – should be within view. HOWEVER… walking along Pleasant Green Road and crossing on its bridge should be domne with caution! On Pleasant Green Road head south over the river toward the Parking access area, my suggestion would be to drop your pack here, take a break, and/or explore the old Southern Power Cooling Pond back upstream on this side of the river. There are a few social trails in this area, but if you generally stay to the left you’ll climb up on an old gravel access road, with the cooling pond beyond – just beyond the bridge on your right, follow the far bank of that discharge creek to the Eno for some great views of a rocky cascading river with several small falls.
When you are ready to resume, return to the parking lot at Pleasant Green Road and begin to walk toward the road. On the left find the Mountains-to-Sea trailhead next to the ALCOHOL BEVERAGES PROHIBITED sign, it will direct you southeast, under Pleasant Green Road. It cuts through tall grasses, where a bushhog cut through the grass and created a trail heading into the woods. I have pictures and commentary in my Trail Journals (click) dated 12/18/2011 Titled Cox to “Power Station to Cole Mill”.
Once on the Mountains-to-Sea (MST) Trail, you’re headed due south near the west bank of the river. There are a couple of things to watch for as you head south. Though hard to find if you don’t know where it is – about a quarter mile in, on the flat lowlands of the river, you will cross over a slight depression which is a runoff ditch. Up creek, to the west, or on your right, it gets to look like a bit of a thicket as it goes uphill… following that runoff, you will bump into the old SOuthern Power Plant’s Fish Fry pavilion, with standing chimney, spring run-off and what was a covered pavilion back before the 1950’s. If you bushwhack more than five minutes without seeing it, you have the wrong ditch!
Further south you will cross your first running water ditch (unless you’re in rainy season, then some of the smaller runoffs may have water), but this creek is year-round, crossing on small rocks in the creek at a hairpin curve in the trail. Anywhere between this creek and the next creek, which has a wooden bridge, head uphill on the right to a HUGE grove of mature Bamboo. Very out of place. It is about 100′ off trail, just stay on the rise of that hill – you will find it!
The MST then meanders to the east and then north east. The MST is blazed with white markers. There are Yellow markers as well, designating it as the Laurel Ridge Trail. The latter is the name of the trail designated by the Eno River State Park. The trail wanders inland a ways, through Mountain Laurel thickets, crossing small creeks, and through a dense forest of evenly re-planted but now mature pine trees. When the trail hits the river again, it begins to curve to the right, or south, and hits the Quarry Trail, now blazed with Light Blue markers. You should be able to see the Quarry at this point. On a hot day in August you should HEAR the quarry from a half mile away – it is popular with locals who come to float in the Quarry or jump off the cliffs. (It is not recommended to swim here, according to the State… but are you kidding? Take a dip – its very cool. They admit it is not prohibited, either!)
My suggestion here would be to drop packs and explore up the northern bank of the quarry, off to your right as you look at the Quarry. Follow it to the western bank where there is easy swimming access, and return to your packs, because you will see the southern banks after grabbing your gear and continuing on this trail. Following the ridge line between the Quarry and the Eno River, it will turn west with the Rhodes Creek visible on your left down the embankment. Look left for a trail that crosses this creek with wooden steps on the banks. It usually is easy to cross on rocks, but at high water, it may be necessary to remove boots to cross this creek – it never gets deeper than below your knees.
Continue on the Quarry trail (see the detailed write-up on the Quarry Trail for more information on it and the Historic Fish Dam Indian Road that crosses your path near hear) until you pass the brown Quarry Warning Sign. a few dozen yards past that you will hit the Red-Blazed Cabe Land Trail. Turn left, and continue downhill to the river, turning right, or downriver, when you hit it. At the point where you are alomost at the river, look to your right and see the old Head Race for the mill, carved out of these banks by slaves, hundreds of years ago. Continue downriver, consulting the Cabe Land Trail pages for details on finding the old Mill foundations. When you cross the two wooden fottbridges, you will find a sign pointing to the right for the main trail going uphill. You will want to continue straight onto an unnamed social trail, along the river, (often obscured with twigs and limbs so you don’t dare follow the river in a public State Park!) until you are forced inland and uphill because of a large creek. The trail is feint but often apparent at this point. Follow this trail through a chainsaw cut in a large downed tree, and it will begin to ascend the hill on your right. Half way up that hill, you will re-intersect with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail off to the left, blazed again in White and Yellow. The MST will turn off this social trail to the left, and go back downhill to a wooden bridge. (Had you continued uphill for about 2-300 yards, you’d find the old abandoned Cabe Family cemetery. When you hit the crest, bear left onto an unblazed path to the cemetery… if you bear right, you are on the MST) Back on the MST where I left you, beyond the wooden footbridge on the MST, the trail approaches the Eno River again, but often on top of the bluffs.
On your right, at this point is a small patch of Private Property, please respect the owner’s wishes for privacy and stay on the trail here. On your right will be a barely noticeable social trail leading to an access trail in the nearby neighborhood. Watch on your left for one of the best views of the Eno on the entire trail system. About 25 feet off the trail hanging over the cliffside is a rock that allows for a perfect group shot of you and your party. The bank leading to it is high enough for most tripods to cath a great angle, and there are trees to use for a gorilla-pod if thats what you use.