Pump Station Trail is a favorite short trail, but sometimes hard to find for first-time hikers on this trail. You must access Rivermont Rd off of Cole Mill Rd, near the Sparger Rd. traffic light or Valley Springs Rd off of Rose of Sharon Rd, turning left onto Rivermont. This is a gravel road but in generally good condition. There are two trailheads, one just east of the bridge, barely a well-worn shoulder on the road, the other is 1/4 mile west of that bridge at a bend in the road, a much larger worn parking area in the dirt. You can also access the Pump Station from the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on either side of it, one by parking on Cole Mill Road, slipping down the embankment on the south side of the river, and following the MST from there, or a much longer access from the MST at Guess Road.
Describing it from the parking area at the bridge on Rivermont, it is easy to find the trail going into the woods. Ignore the side trail to the left – that one follows Rivermont Road barely inside the tree line, connecting to the other trailhead. As you find yourself traversing the hillside with a raving on your left, that ravine is Nancy Rhodes Creek, at one time that was all under water as the water supply for Durham in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. As you walk into the open powerline cut, look on your left for a social trail that leads to the old dam, remnants of the dam are still visible. If you plan to head northeast to Guess Road on the MST after seeing the Pump Station, you should take this trail to the dam first. If you plan to do the Pump Station loop trail, or continue on the MST to the southwest, then continue on the mail trail – you will see the dam a bit later. For this description I will continue on the loop trail, ignoring this side trail.
Once back in the woods, you will come to a sharp left split in the trail, take this to the Pump Station ruins; to the right is the MST. There is a short side trail leading to the river at the ruins. Read a very good story, including historic pictures by CLICKING HERE. Continuing beyond the old ruins, now headed to the west, the trail hits Nancy Rhodes Creek, and follows it upcreek to a foot bridge. Before you cross on the bridge, follow a small social trail up to the dam remnants, and over the top. Be sure to find the old intake structure. On the far side of it, you can see where the dammed water went in to the piping system and flowed to the pump station. Water from the Eno River was never used to supply the water, only the hydro power to pump this dammed water to Durham.
Cross over the wooden footbridge, and go off trail again to a small pond, often full of frogs after a rain. This is the pool created when the dam overflow was released, gouging out this depression. The remainder of the main trail follows the Eno upriver, past Coon Foot Island, a small sliver island visible from the trail, and where the river curves south, you meet the righthand split to the MST further south and west. You’ll bear left staying on the Pump Station Trail back to the other trailhead on Rivermont road. Your choice is to walk the road back to the left to your original trailhead, or follow the connector trail just inside the woods.