A Labor Day Hike to Cox Mountain along the Eno River

Eno River near Cox Mountain

At the beginning of September, I went to Eno River State Park, to the Few Ford Access (6101 Cole Mill Road, Durham, NC 27705), for my weekly hike. It was Labor Day weekend and there were people everywhere, which was a nice change of pace from the usual. Wanting something more substantial than usual, I took the Fews Ford Trail to the suspension bridge, crossed, and proceeded down the Cox Mountain Trail.

Map of Cox Mountain at Eno River State Park

The first part of the trail consists of an upward climb to the peak of the eponymous mountain — though it’s really not so much a mountain as a big hill. There weren’t as many people along this portion of my hike, so it was rather quiet. The air was thick from the late summer heat and humidity, but it wasn’t overpowering.

After fifteen minutes, I reached the top of Cox Mountain and took some time to admire the view, exercising my landscape photography skills in the process. What resulted is the following photo. Without a doubt it’s one of my favorite views in the park.

Clearcut passing over Cox Mountain with horizon in the distance

From there I proceeded to a plateau where the land levels off. At this point, there are oak, maple, pine, and beech trees in abundance, as is usual in this region of central North Carolina. After another quarter mile of hiking, Cox Mountain Trail began its descent, and I continued my hike toward the banks of the Eno River.

After passing the foundation stones of a few historical homesteads, I reached one of the many unnamed streams that empty into the Eno River. It’s small, shallow, and easily forded, but it provides some great opportunities for landscape photography, so long as you wear good hiking shoes and aren’t averse to getting muddy.

Creek off of Cox Mountain Trail

After passing the unnamed stream, I came to a fork in the trail where I took the center path. Sticking to Cox Mountain Trail, I did more climbing until I reached a bluff about 70 feet above river level. Then I passed the dilapidated remains of a few more historical homesteads and descended once again before coming to another fork in the trail and switching over to Fanny’s Ford Trail.

Near Fanny’s Ford itself, I noticed another great view of the Eno River. There are so many at Eno River State Park, it’s easy to overlook them. After finding secure footing along the banks of the river, I was able to exercise my landscape photography skills once again with the following photo.

Eno River near Cox Mountain Trail

Then I rejoined Fanny’s Ford Trail and continued my hike along the banks of the Eno River. I made it back to the suspension footbridge and crossed to the opposite side. After reaching the west bank, I followed the Fews Ford Trail until I reached Fews Ford itself.

Eno River at Fews Ford in summer

Fews Ford is one of the most popular spots in Eno River State Park, and it’s easy to see why. At this point, the river widens and becomes shallow enough for even children to play in safely. There’s ample room along either bank to rest, chat, and have a nice picnic. And it’s a great place to practice your landscape photography skills too. In short, it’s a great way to end a great hike.

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