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Eno River State Park: Our Guide to Hiking, Swimming, and More Fun

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When we first visited Eno River State Park, it quickly became clear that this was not just another outdoor activity. Instead, it’s a truly special place to visit in North Carolina, filled with some of our favorite hikes, and a short drive from downtown Durham.

The park is a can’t-miss for people seeking outdoor fun in Bull City. And since there are many ways to enjoy the Eno, we thought it was high time to share some of our favorites.

We even mix in some pop culture along with our favorite trails, water activities, and more from this awesome North Carolina state park. 

This post on Eno River State Park is a part of our coverage of Durham. We’ve also included Eno River State Park in our guides to a weekend Durham and hikes near Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.

Eno River State Park

Fun Facts

Durham Parks West Point on the Eno Image
West Point on the Eno.

The 4,200-acre Eno River State Park opened in 1975 and working together with the City of Durham-managed West Point on the Eno, preserves 14 miles of the 42-mile long Eno River.

The river is named after the Eno People, who lived along the river before European exploration. The Eno River Association serves as the park’s stewards, continuing the fight for conservation and to leave something behind for generations beyond you and me. You can follow them here.

The Eno River and Stranger Things

If you’re into the critically acclaimed TV series Stranger Things, you might’ve heard the Eno River mentioned. That’s because the show’s creators are from Durham, and the Eno is not the only Bull City easter egg they drop. 

Here are a few more places in Hawkins that reference real spots in Durham! 

Access Points

Eno River State Park Trails Image
Buckquarter Creek.

Getting to Eno River State Park is fairly simple. There are five access points, including Cabe Lands, Cole Mill, Fews Ford, Pleasant Green, and Pump Station.

If I were to visit for the first time, I’d just look up the trail I want (ex. Cox Mountain Trail) and use Google Maps to get me there. 

Eno River Trails

16 designated Eno River State Park trails await. Our favorites include Buckquarter Creek and Cox Mountain, but we always love hearing other people’s favorites. We’ve organized five of them in alphabetical order along with distance and blaze.

Buckquarter Creek 

1.50 Mile Loop | Red Circle Blaze

Buckquarter Creek might be my favorite trail in Eno River State Park. It starts at Few’s Ford, where many people go swimming during the summer.

The access point to the swimming area is a short walk from the parking lot and can get very busy on the weekends. We recommend packing a picnic and maybe even putting a camping chair in the water to relax while the kids swim and play.

Before looping away from the river, this is where you’ll find some of the Eno’s most beautiful rapids.

Cole Mill 

1 Mile Loop | Yellow Circle Blaze

Eno River Trails Cole Mill Image

One of the park’s easier hikes, Cole Mill Trail takes you along the river and through the woods. You’ll end up on the opposite end of the parking lot and picnic area, depending on where you started. 

Cox Mountain

3.75 Mile Loop | Blue Circle Blaze

Eno River Trails Cox Mountain Image

A lot of people also love Cox Mountain Trail, and not just for its picturesque suspension footbridge. After crossing the river, there’s a nice path that intersects with Fanny’s Ford Trail (1 Mile Loop, Purple Circle Blaze), which you can use to spend more time walking along the river.

Continue on Cox Mountain Trail and it’ll take you through the woods until looping back toward the river and the bridge. 

Laurel Bluffs

6.1 Miles One Way | Yellow Circle

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs through Laurel Bluffs, which is the longest Eno River trail. It connects to three others along the way, including Pump Station, Cabe Lands, and Eno Quarry.

Keep in mind that the quarry is popular for swimming, but the steep and muddy cliffs and deep water make it very dangerous. 

Pump Station

1.5 Mile Loop | Red Circle Blaze

Pump Station is one of the more non-descript trails of Eno River State Park, but one of the most popular. It’s a short loop, full of beautiful wildflowers in spring, and a cool look at an abandoned pump station’s ruins, hence the name. 

More Hiking Options

There are also guided hikes throughout the year, which you can keep up with here. If you’ve gone hiking in Eno River State Park, we’d love to know your favorite trails in the comments section. 

Swimming at Eno River State Park

There are a few more ways to enjoy the park, and one of the most popular is swimming at Few’s Ford, especially on hot days. Many adventurous souls head to the quarry for this.

Just keep in mind that it’s pretty dangerous and we, unfortunately, see occasional reports of swimmers losing their lives at this spot.

Paddling and Fishing

You can also paddle some parts of the Eno, depending on water levels. More info can be found here. I’ve also seen quite a few people cast fishing and wading in the water doing some fly fishing. You can catch various bass and sunfish here.

Note: NC Wildlife Resources Commission regulations do apply inside the park. Check their website for updated info. 

Camping

Backpack camping and group camping are both available at Eno River State Park. 

Backpack Camping

For backpackers, there are five sites available at both the Fanny’s Ford Campground and the Piper Creek Campground. 

Group Camping

Groups can choose from the Cox Mountain Group Camp (26-person maximum) and the Buckquarter Creek Group Camp (2 sites, 15-person maximum at each). Reservations are required for group campsites. 

Note: the park’s gates do close at designated times, so keep that in mind if you’re not staying the night or need to pop out for a minute. 

Final Thoughts and Yours, Too

NC State Parks Eno River Durham NC Image

Eno River State Park remains our favorite in North Carolina, and not just because it’s close to home. Sure, we’ve made tons of memories here and plan to create more, but its scenery, backstory, and everything else make this a truly special place.

We love visiting throughout the year and always look forward to our next time walking along the Eno. And if you get a chance to explore this park, you might just bump into us along one of the trails, near the swimming, or around the campgrounds. 

Until you do, what’s the first thing you’d like to do at Eno River State Park? If you’ve been before, what’s your favorite part about this awesome park?

Let us know in the comments, where we look forward to chatting about this awesome place in North Carolina! 

4 thoughts on “Eno River State Park: Our Guide to Hiking, Swimming, and More Fun

  1. Teresa Elizabeth Donegan says:

    Thanks for this overview. Neighbors have recommended Eno as a place I can take my dog for a swim. Can dogs swim there and is it free from green algae? Thanks, Teresa

    • Carl Hedinger says:

      Hi Teresa,

      Unfortunately, pets are allowed in swim areas but must remain leashed at all times. No reports of green algae and we’re pretty regular visitors. Thanks for reaching out!

  2. Melanie L. says:

    We recently discovered Bobbitt Hole Trail. The river curves here and makes a nice place for swimming and wading.
    Also, we love going to Fews Ford and sliding over the mini falls/rocky area. Be aware that this is not the safest activity and can lead to some bruises.

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