Exploring the Eno Riverwalk in an Unseasonably Early Winter

While we’ve had many unseasonably warm days in central North Carolina lately, we’ve also had a few cold ones. We’ve had so many in fact that grass and low-lying vegetation have turned brown already — indicative of a hard frost.

(Just to clarify, this is another predicted effect of climate change, which is causing not only the melting of polar ice caps but the disruption of the jet stream — the latter of which is largely responsible for keeping climatic conditions in the northern hemisphere stable. The more sea ice melts; the more unstable the jet stream becomes; the more extreme weather events occur.)

Map of the Riverwalk in Hillsborough NC

Along with these cold temperatures have come many days of clear blue skies ideally suited to landscape photography. So, on Dec. 12 2021, I headed down to the Eno Riverwalk — which stretches 1.8 miles along the Eno River in Hillsborough, NC — to check out the river, an old train trestle, a bee hotel, and a few other sights.

I arrived at the Riverwalk in the mid-afternoon and parked on the third floor of the public parking deck, where I got out and took a look over the edge.

Blue sky and sunshine over riverwalk

This is probably the best view of the Riverwalk itself, with a distinctive sycamore tree in the distance and an outdoor dining area in the foreground.

Quickly I went down the steps and crossed the first footbridge, where I turned east to see the Eno River.

Eno River in winter with blue sky

The fallen concrete column on the right bank of the river is a favorite roost for blue herons, often seen in the summer months.

After that, I continued on , passing people on their way to and from downtown Hillsborough on what is one of the most deservedly popular walkways in central NC.

Within a quarter mile, I came to another footbridge. In the middle of it, I turned left to get a view of the Eno River, which passes under an old train trestle at this point.

Eno River passes under old train trestle

Soon I reached the opposite bank and continued south. Within a couple hundred feet, I was under the train trestle.

Underneath an old train trestle along the Eno River

Though it’s not the prettiest spot, it’s one of the most visually compelling along the Riverwalk, probably because of the symmetry of the trestle and the reflection in the water.

After the trestle, I came to the pollinator garden, which was largely shut down for the winter. However, the bee hotel was still present, as usual.

Bee hotel along the Riverwalk

This is another one of the most distinctive sights along the Riverwalk, a place where small cubbies made with recycled materials allow bees to nest. And considering the plight of pollinators, this is something we should all be doing.

Soon I passed Gold Park — with its dog park, playground, and soccer field — and came to one of the older buildings in the area.

Eno Cotton Mill in Hillsborough, NC

This is, or used to be, the Eno Cotton Mill, established in 1896. It closed in 1984, and since that time it’s become a commercial hub for local small businesses.

With the Eno Cotton Mill behind me, I kept going for another tenth of a mile before I reached the westernmost end of the Riverwalk. (After that, it segues into the MST, or Mountains to Sea Trail, which extends across North Carolina from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Coast.)

Gingerly I hopped down a steep embankment and came to a small dam.

Hiker near dam along the Eno River

Soon I had set up my tripod and took a few photos, including the above selfie.

Then, after soaking in the beauty of the moment, I turned around and headed back to the parking deck, refreshed from a close encounter with nature — which all of us can benefit from now and then.

(If you’d like to see more, check out my YouTube video below and consider becoming a subscriber. It would make the seven hours I invested in it worthwhile, even if I don’t get paid for it.)

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