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.

At a point where the river takes a sharp right turn, the trail takes a sharper right turn and leads away from the river. Here, bushwhack back to the river along an obvious social trail and you’ll find remnants of the location for the old Alpha Woolen Mill from the late 1700’s. No foundations or structures are left, but the Head and Tail races are plainly evident, and a very odd fishing hole is found on the river banks. The theory is that water from the headrace went into a wooden sluiceway to run the mill water wheel emptying into the large dry hole you’ll see, but overflow in high water was diverted, through sluiceway and fell into the riverbank at this deep fishing hole. Enough access to the Eno allows for it to be a suitable hiding place for fish.

Follow the river to just beyond the mill site at a deep creek (small flow, but deep banks) and you will be at the river facing the upper reaches of Bobbitt’s Hole. There are several suitable places here to ford the river. Take off your boots and do so – the campsites are on the other side of the river. Ordinarily the river is just over ankles at this point if you choose a good path. Even in high water the river is maybe 18-24 inches deep. The rock bottom is slippery so be careful and cross with a buddy. It is always best to unbuckle any pack or fanny pack when fording rivers. Keep a hiking stick or pole downriver at all times. If you cross with a buddy – it is best to leap-frog your advance – with one firmly planted as the other advances, repeat until you reach the other side. The panoramic image shown below is about a 160 degree view of the crossing with my suggested route superimposed on it. I’ve done this crossing several times at different water levels and never had a problem with it.

If you did not bushwhack to the river when I told you to and stayed on the MST, you will cross another wooden bridge over a small creek (the one described above as having deep banks at the rivers edge). On the far side of this usually dry creek, you will find a feint social trail headed to the river on the left. This also goes to the abandoned Alpha Woolen Mill, and the Bobbitt Hole Ford pictured above.

Once across the river, you’ve gone about 6.75 miles today (not counting any side explorations). After getting your shoes back on – (or leave your wet toe shoes on for this short hike) follow the Bobbitt’s Hole Trail downriver, with the swimming hole on your right, to a fork in the trail to your left – this is the approach to, and signage displayed for, the Piper Creek Campsites.

Have your permit handy! Stealth Camping anywhere outside established sites, or without a permit in a site is a violation of STATE LAW. Check your requirements here: State Parks Camping Brochure .

Make sure you’ve gotten your site permits before the trip! I recommend site #10, being closer to the river and Bobbit’s Hole, (left picture above), but further from the outhouse located at sites 6 – 8, (center picture above) which are futher up the hill. The Outhouse and firewood pile (right picture above) is at Site #8. Site #9 is slightly further from the river than #10 and on the top of the ridge to your left. All of them have advantages, but being closer to the river, down in a more protected valley and closer to Bobbit’s Hole for a midnight swim makes it my choice. Set up camp and consider exploring Bobbit’s Hole in the evening as regular park visitors leave to meet the closing gate time. It makes for a great Sunrise swim, too! It is a popular swimming and fishing hole, but locked parking access usually provides some seclusion early and late in the day.

DAY TWO

The following morning you have three options:

  1. Go back to Bobbits Hole (left picture above) past the End Of Trail Sign (center picture above) and re-ford the Eno River at the same place you forded yesterday (right picture above seen from the campsite side of the river) and regain access to the MST, turning left. Further downriver you’ll find an old foundation and chimney, obvious on your left. At this point, you are directly opposite Bobbit’s Hole on the river. Follow the MST to Cole Mill Road, staying on your side of the river … or
  2. Staying on the north side of the river and simply follow the riverbank downriver. (Note: if you stayed in site 6, 7 or 8, you can do a very short bushwhack from camp to get back on the trail, or follow a longer path on the real trail turning left). This is called Bobbit’s Hole Trail, as the river starts an easterly bend you’ll see a trail split to the left, you stay right, which continues to Cole Mill trailhead as the Cole Mill Trail. The trail heads south for a short bit and returns northerly. Where the river begins a northerly bend, you’ll see two different trails going uphill long before you hit Cole Mill Road – take either. Continue to the parking area at the end of OLD Cole Mill Road. (Alternatively, you could stay on the riverbank to Cole Mill Rd., but this has been abandonded and in bad shape, making it difficult if you are carrying a backpack.)Continue past the Trailhead sign, and it eventually goes back down to the River. At the point where it is almost under Cole Mill Road, take the wooden steps up to the road bed on your left and cross the river to the opposite bank on the highway. If you continued north on this side of the river, you’d be on the Pea Creek Trail. There is not much room for vehicles and foot traffic on Cole Mill Road bridge, but it is not a heavily used road. When you get on the opposite bank, slide down the concrete embankment on the right and regain the MST heading downriver … or
  3. If you’re pressed for time, there is a shortcut you can take from the campsites. Follow the Bobbitt Hole Trail away from the river to the powerline cut, turn right and stay in the tire tracks until you hit Cole Mill Road and turn right to the bridge. (If you go right on Old Cole Mill Rd, you can access fresh water spigots and restrooms, then go further to the trailhead sign, turn left and follow the access to Pea Creek trail to just short of the real Cole Mill Road. Take the wooden steps up to the roadbed, and cross the river here.) At the opposite bank, slide down the embankment and continue on the MST downriver.

Personally, I think Option 1) is better, even if you do have to re-ford the river. You see a few historic artifacts and can claim to have stayed on the MST all the way through this part of the Eno Park.