The Ridge Trail (at Penny’s Bend, as opposed to a trail of the same name in the Eno State Park near Cox Mountain Trail) is part of a fairly new trail system located along a prominent oxbow bend in the Eno River and managed by the NC Botanical Garden. After parking in the only lot available for these trails, located at Old Oxford and Snow Hill Road, head to the northwest corner of the lot, nearest the road, and you’ll find the trailhead sign. It briefly passes a Nature Trail with posted signs as it continues over a wooden footbridge over the outlet creek from the pond nearby. (The farm houses and outbuildings are on USArmy Corps of Engineers property, but appear to be occupied). The trail follows the Eno upriver as it makes a easterly bend in the river, then you will see a trail fork, with one fork angling uphill. You may see the farm outbuildings through the trees on your right. That trail meets a gravel road at the top of the hill. Look to your left and you should see an old trailer, head that way – just beyond the trailer, it splits again, with the Ridge Trail continuing straight, and the combined Ridge/Riverbend Trail veering right through the open field, headed toward a line of trees.

Follow this trail into the woods, but keep an eye out for a Red Blaze on the left, on one of two close trees, with the trail splitting off in between the trees. If you continue straight on this seldom used access road, you will hit Wanderlust Lane. You’ve missed the cut-off! After going between these trees, it quickly reaches a large outcrop of rock overlooking the Eno River – this is called Little Hanging Rock. The trail passes to the right of the rock formation, angling downhill to the river. Be careful – this is a little blazed trail. Immediately prior to hitting the river, you will see the Mountains-to-Sea Trail headed off in a northerly direction. After you hit the river, it will turn downriver to the south, and follow it to a point just before it vears southeast and eventually northeast. You will see the intersection of the Ridge Trail, where it came from that old Trailer, angling back uphill, take that trail.

The Ridge Trail heads back to the old trailer, and ducks into the woods headed downhill. Use caution as there is little signage and blazes. Once back at the river, vear left and eventually re-cross the footbridge and meets the parking lot.

It is a fairly uneventful trail, but very quiet, as it is seldom used. In the spring, it is teaming with wildflowers. Frankly there is little reason to use the Ridge Trail unless you don’t want to extend your hike on the longer Riverbend Trail, or you want to explore the open-ridgetop wildflowers in season.