By Aleta Donald and Vivian Scimone
As summer comes to a close, the leaves fall and the temperatures drop, and East students find themselves wondering what, besides watching Netflix, they can do for fun now that the pools have closed and the beaches are forlorn. Luckily enough, the ECHO has some avid hikers in its midst who have composed a list of the best places to go hiking in the area.
Hanging Rock State Park, NC
While it is bit of a drive (almost two hours, to be exact), Hanging Rock is undoubtedly one the best places to go hiking. The park is in the midst of a mountain chain and bordered by bubbling rivers. In the summer, the lush green trees make for the perfect shade as hikers climb to the top, but the trails in the fall are no less pristine. With more than 18 miles of trails to choose from in the park, a classic trail is the Moore’s Wall Loop, which is a 4.7 mile hike that peaks at the observation tower and has an elegant view of the Sauratown Mountains. An easier choice is the Riverbluffs trail, only 1.3 miles, which winds along the scenic Dan River at the edge of the park.
The American Tobacco Trail
The American Tobacco Trail is a 22 mile rails-to-trails project located in the Triangle, about 20 minutes from Chapel Hill. The route crosses through Durham, Cary, Apex, and passes through the Lake Jordan area. In 2014, a bridge for the trail over I-40 opened, linking the formerly disconnected northern and southern segments. The trail winds through beautiful pines, and its rural sections are full of wildlife, including beavers, herons, hawks, songbirds, owls, turtles, and deer. The trail is frequented by bicyclists, families, joggers, and occasionally equestrians on certain sections—be sure to watch out for horse poop! On a beautiful day, go out to the trail and enjoy the outdoors.
Eno River State Park
Only a 20 minute drive from Chapel Hill, at the Eno River State Park you can follow the river bank, journey through the woodlands, or hike a short nature trail. Go up Cox Mountain for a challenging climb through scenic hardwood forest. Travel the Bobbitt Hole Trail to one of the most scenic spots on the river, where water rushes over rocks and greenery hangs from stone-lined bluffs. Dive into the famous Eno Rock Quarry. Eno River State Park has almost 28 miles of trail to take you into the heart of nature.
These hiking trails will provide a peaceful respite from the stresses of school. On a crisp fall day, get outside and try some of the ECHO’s hiking trail picks!