On April 25th, 2021, I went hiking on Cole Mill and Bobbitt Hole Trails at Eno River State Park. I covered about 2.5 miles and had a great time, with scenic views of the river, plants, trees, and the trail itself. And though I had to rush toward the end — I got there around 6:30 PM, and it was already getting dark — I got some exceptional nature photos, which I’ll be sharing in this blog post.
When I got to the Cole Mill access point (4390 Old Cole Mill Rd., Durham, NC 27712), I parked my car, got out, and joined Cole Mill Trail. After a tenth of a mile, I reached the banks of the Eno River, where I bent down to admire the view.
There used to be an old sycamore here, but with so much recent flooding it was apparently washed away.
Soon I got up and continued my hike, following the trail east and then north around a sharp bend in the Eno River. As I looked down, I saw a small wildflower, hugging the ground.
This is green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum), a native ground cover in the aster family with yellow petals and oval-shaped, fuzzy leaves.
As I hiked north, I passed more views of the Eno River, which were inaccessible because of the high water. (Ironically, as I’m writing this — it’s now May 25th — we’re supposed to be having rainfall like we did a month ago, but instead we’re experiencing the beginning of a drought, and plants are showing it.) Then I came to a creek, crossed it, and hiked up a steep bank.
On the opposite side, Cole Mill Trail stretched through verdant forest in the fading light.
Before long, I stumbled on a striking tree.
This is northern red oak (Quercus rubra), identifiable by thick bands of black and gray that rise along the entire height of the tree, from root to treetop.
Around the second big bend in the Eno River, I climbed through a maze of rocks — some as tall as my chest — and came to one of the best views along this stretch of the river.
As the Eno River bent south, the fading sunlight caught the distinctive shade of yellow-green that trees often have in early spring.
Within another tenth of a mile, I came to the trail junction for Bobbitt Hole Trail and switched over, then continued along the river bank.
Soon I was in the middle of a flood plain, where an emerald carpet of grasses stretched out in front of me, heralding my approach to Bobbitt Hole.
After another quarter mile, I came to a bend, not as sharp as before but still noticeable, and then approached a clearing.
As the trees thinned on either side, Bobbitt Hole spread out in front of me, like a painting in the water. With the fading light of dusk in the distance, it almost looked like some of the trees were changing color, ready for fall. (Considering the cold temperatures we had in April, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.)
After taking far too many photos and getting far too many mosquito bites — all in search of the ever-elusive perfect shot — I turned around and started to leave.
But there was still the reverse shot of Bobbitt Hole, with the Eno River meandering into the distance through a canopy of spring trees.
Soon I passed through dense woods in near dark — which limited my photographic ability — on the reverse leg of Bobbitt Hole Trail. After climbing a few hills, I reached Cole Mill Trail and switched over. Then I kept on for another half mile until I reached the parking lot.
And as I got into my car, I took a deep breath, full of gratitude that such places still exist and that I’m able to see them and share them with you now.
[If you’d like to see more of my nature photos on a regular basis, feel free to follow my Instagram, @markallmywords.]