The Occoneechee Mountain trail begins at the parking area at the end of Virginia Cades Road. To do it counter clockwise, go to the northeast corner near where you drove into the parking lot and look for a clearing, and a partially hidden trailhead sign. You start off heading for the larger fishing lake at first, then cut into the woods to the left. There’s a fairly steady rise in the trail to where Brown Elfin Knob trail splits off to the left headed to the Summit Trail.
At the far northeast corner of this loop trail, you’ll pop into a powerline cut with the main trail turning to the left. Take a few moments to bushwhack to the left on an obvious trail, for a great view of the city beyond and an open quarry in the near distance.
You COULD walk the powerline cut, but it is not a pretty trail – regain the Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail and you will find a trail split leading uphill. This is the Overlook Trail. My suggestion would be to go on this trail only up to the wooden fence overlook, above the quarry face, and then return to this trail split. Once regained, continue to the west a short distance. There is a very short viewpoint trail, perhpas 40 feet long, that stands on the edge of the quarry – good views here. A bit further to the west is a much longer social trail headed back east on a ridge line. You can follow this all the way to Eno Mountain Road, which has roadside parking for several vehicles.
My preference for off-trail bushwhacking would have me suggest you access the bottomlands north of this trail, closer to the river to a place I call Ghosttown. See my Trail Journal to see how to best find the Panther’s Den. Otherwise, stay on the loop trail, which cuts close to the river before heading slightly uphill, meanders to the south and then uphill to the east and back to the Parking area. Some of these trails are somewhat steeper than usual, use caution.
Most people combine several of these trails into one longer one.