Best Easy Day Hikes Chapel Hill, North Carolina  by Johnny Molloy

Best Easy Day Hikes Chapel Hill, North Carolina Guide Book

by Johnny Molloy (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Chapel Hill, North Carolina  by Johnny Molloy
These best easy day hikes of greater Chapel Hill are truly a treasure for locals and visitors coming to see this special slice of North Carolina. With this guide in hand and willing feet, you can explore greater Chapel Hill on the trails described within these pages. No matter where you go, the hikes will enhance your outdoor experience and leave you appreciating the natural splendors of the Piedmont. Enjoy.

© 2016 Johnny Molloy/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes Chapel Hill, North Carolina" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

Take a hike at a historic Hillsborough estate. Start your walk in sight of this brick plantation house from the early 1800s, then pass through the grounds to enter woods and find the Eno River. Soak in aquatic views as you travel wooded bottomland then rise back from the river. Come near a pond then circle around the front of this federal-style house, viewing it dead on. The last part goes along an ancient Indian trading path.
Hillsborough, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
You will enjoy this natural surface greenway that links Chapel Hill’s Community Center Park to the University of North Carolina’s Battle Park. Leave Community Center Park, cutting through a residential area before joining the Lower Trail along splashy Battle Branch, which you bridge. Turn west, continuing upstream to meet historic Battle Park, with its trail network. Rock outcrops and big hills will surprise most first-time hikers. Your return route uses the Upper Trail, adding variety to the trek.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
Battle Park, once known as Battle’s Woods, may be the oldest hiking destination in the Chapel Hill area. The 93-acre preserve is named for the student and later president of the University of North Carolina, Kemp Plummer Battle, who back in the 1840s laid out trails along the creek that bears his name. Today Battle would be proud to know his woods have been turned into a park with trails enough for a rewarding double loop that explores the streams and hills of this wooded swath of the UNC campus, as well as visits the historic outdoor Forest Theater.
Chapel Hill, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
Enjoy a mix of streamside and hilltop hiking on this circuit hike at the Korstian Division of Duke Forest, as well as viewing different forest management practices within the forest. The hike leaves Mount Sinai Road, using forest roads to reach the Wooden Bridge. Here you turn downstream along New Hope Creek. Discover bluffs, bottomlands, and big woods while curving along the creek, including the Big Bend. Leave the stream to climb back to upland woods via wide doubletrack trail. (Note: A couple of sections involve a modicum of scrambling along rock outcrops.)
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.7
This surprisingly attractive greenway takes you on a journey up the Bolin Creek watershed. Start your trek at Community Center Park, with its numerous facilities, then head upstream along Bolin Creek. The trail leads into a hill-bordered vale while passing through occasional wider swaths of protected land along with narrower wooded stretches. Enjoy multiple views of the shoals, gravel bars, and pools of Bolin Creek while on the asphalt path, well integrated into Chapel Hill. Stay tuned as this trail is extended in the future.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This is a fun and popular hike, sometimes almost too busy. Avoid this trek on Saturdays if possible. Start at Eno River State Park’s Cabelands area and take the Cabelands Trail down toward the Eno to pick up the Eno Quarry Trail. Here you will cross historic Indian Fish Dam Road en route to Eno Quarry, a 4-acre tarn, popular with anglers and swimmers in season. Cross Rhodes Creek then circle around Eno Quarry. Next, head back to the Cabelands Trail where you travel along the Eno River, visiting historic Cabe Mill. The final part of the route leads back to the trailhead.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
This park nestled in the town of Chapel Hill contains some surprisingly hilly and scenic terrain—and its namesake Cedar Falls. You will wend your way through a potentially confusing but fun network of nature trails, leaving the main park area for Cedar Falls, easily heard before seen if Cedar Fork is flowing boldly. From there you wind to the southern end of the wooded park, then stroll north in hills back to the trailhead.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
This greenway delivers a little bit of everything, including three creeks to visit. Start the trek at Southern Community Park, where you walk through a wooded preserve before leaving the park near Scroggs Elementary School. Come near Fan Branch as the trail continues north through Southern Village, where it uses the sidewalk along a street for a short period. The trail dips to cross Fan Branch in a widened swath of greenspace then crosses Fan Branch’s mother stream— Wilson Creek—twice. Tunnel under Culbreth Road and enter more parkland to meet Morgan Creek and the Morgan Creek Trail.
Chapel Hill, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
Explore an intentionally educational forest situated on a peninsula of Jordan Lake. Here you can enjoy three loop walks. The Lowlands Trail leads by a creek and to a lake cove, then the lake itself. Next, the Talking Trees Trail allows you to learn more about the components of the forest. Finally, the Forest Demonstration Trail offers the longest circuit. Here you can view different forest types and learn about management techniques used to maintain them. It also avails a panorama of Jordan Lake. (Note: The forest is open specific times and seasons. Check before you come here.)
Chapel Hill, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
This hike mixes a classic streamside greenway with a natural surface loop around a hilly meadow mixed with trees. The hardest part of the hike may be finding the trailhead parking the first time. After making your way to the path’s beginning, enjoy a level stroll along big Morgan Creek to reach Merritts Pasture, a large greenspace. From there, climb a hill to enjoy a fine Piedmont vista then circle down Merritts Pasture. From there it is a simple backtrack to the trailhead.
Chapel Hill, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
This hike through a natural area links up with a city of Durham park to create a wooded and sometimes wet circuit through tall bottomland hardwoods along New Hope Creek. Big trees, brooding streams, and wildflowers in season enhance the experience. A surprising number of boardwalks make the hiking drier and fun for kids of all ages. The walk begins at newer Old Chapel Hill Road Park, where a connecting greenway extends the hiking possibilities.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
This hike explores the highs and lows of the Duke Forest’s Korstian Division. Start your hike on the Piney Mountain Road to reach the crest of Piney Mountain, standing 200 feet above New Hope Creek below. Drop to the water’s edge and squeeze past rocky bluffs. The trail then crosses Piney Mountain Creek and pinches past still more bluffs before opening to richly forested bottomland. Downstream, find sheer bluffs across the water and two milldams. Your return route wanders woods before returning to New Hope Creek and a backtrack. Finally, climb back to the top of Piney Mountain and onto the trailhead.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
This is a fun and scenic walk at one of Jordan Lake’s more popular day use areas. You will find out why it is called the Pond Trail as it passes three different ponds along the way. However, there is more watery scenery to enjoy as the loop portion of the hike also skirts the shores of Jordan Lake, including traversing a boardwalk that spans the melding of land and water. The swim beach, picnic areas, and boat ramp all beg for additional activities to add to your woodland walk.
Chapel Hill, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2
This circuit hike travels hills down to flats along the Eno River, where it then explores what is considered the best wildflower area at Eno River State Park. From there, come alongside the river to find remains of an old pump station that served the city of Durham, providing water a century back. Explore these ruins then rise back to uplands along Nancy Rhodes Creek, with more wildflowers in season. The final part of the hike returns through hilly pine woods.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
This loop visits one of the deepest valleys in the Triangle area. You might even call this part of New Hope Creek a mini gorge as it cuts a rocky, rapid-filled swath beneath Piney Mountain. Situated in the Korstian Division of Duke Forest, upland fire roads lead down to New Hope Creek, where you then join the New Hope Creek South Trail. Enjoy hiking along the rugged and stony stream with bordering rocky flats that resemble waterways of the Carolina mountains. Come upon the base of Rhododendron Bluff, a steep, evergreen-cloaked hill and sheer cliff towering over New Hope Creek. Leave the creek, using forest roads and trails to complete the loop.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
The Riverwalk is used not only by hikers but also by parents with strollers, joggers, and tourists who find their way to this quaint Piedmont community, as well as folks taking a break from their businesses located downtown. Speaking of that, hikers can easily access businesses located directly off the Riverwalk. A pleasant afternoon will find patrons eating lunch in the parks and then walking it off. The hike starts at Gold Park, a fine little preserve with a mini network of trails as well as a dog park and play area for kids, then heads east along the Eno River, where it squeezes under a railroad trestle, crosses the river, and enters a 12-acre tract donated by Peggy Cates Bartow. An additional loop trail is located here in the streamside woods. Continuing on, walkers will view rock outcrops along the river and then cross the waterway yet again. Here they will reach downtown and accesses to businesses. Continue winding through wooded lands along the waterway, stopping to soak in ample historical information about the area.
Hillsborough, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This is an opportunity to learn about the landscape of the Piedmont while stretching your legs. Set in the Durham Division of the Duke Forest, this loop explores a stream cutting through a swath of undeveloped woods, despite urbanization all around it. The walk, great for kids of all ages, is dotted with interpretive signage and information about the natural world. The Shepherd Nature Trail is your learning conduit. It ends near a picnic shelter ideal for outdoor dining. Next, join a doubletrack path as it rolls through small watersheds divided by hills, making your way back to the trailhead.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
This hike explores Stony Creek, the aquatic pulse of Duke Forest’s Edeburn Division. Head up old Eno Road, crossing Stony Creek by bridge. Flat Rock Trail begins the loop where you cross Stony Creek at a large level outcrop. From there, wander up the watershed, crossing Stony Creek and its tributaries. Climb to make a loop atop Oak Hill, where you can see stone remains of an old homesite. Your return trip passes pine plantations and other evidences of a managed forest.
Hillsborough, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.1
This hike combines deep woods walking with added aquatic scenery. Vista Point Recreation Area, on the shores of Jordan Lake, provides a natural setting for this mostly level circuit. From the trailhead you work your way among hollies, pines, and oaks before striking out onto a peninsula surrounded by Jordan Lake. Cruise by a quiet cove before looping around to view the main body of the impoundment. The final part borders little coves before ending at a picnic shelter.
Chapel Hill, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
This adventure explores human and natural history along the Eno River. The Laurel Cliff Trail leaves a collection of impressive historic wooden structures to climb a bluff above the Eno River and meet the Buffalo Trail. From there you drop to the deep Sennett Hole then traverse rock- and evergreen-laced bluffs overlooking the waterway. From there you pass an old milldam then come to iconic West Point on the Eno Mill.
Durham, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
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