This summer we explored Eno River State Park in Durham over Memorial Day weekend. Despite a 40 minute drive and a lot of preschooler crying when we first arrived because there was no playground in sight, we enjoyed the short hike across the swaying footbridge and to the river.
Eno River State Park has several different access areas and we chose the Few Fords access area at 6101 Cole Mill Rd so we could be close to the river and explore an old cabin. After a short drive through the park the road dead ended into a circular parking lot with nearby restrooms and several picnic areas. We ate a quick lunch in the shaded picnic area, admired the large pavilion (great for group picnics), and set off on the Cox Mountain Trail towards the river. The first 1/4 mile of the hike was a rather steep descent, but it was mostly graded with steps for an easier hike. With two little ones in tow, I held Ashley’s hand most of the way to prevent her from tripping over roots or steps while Claire enjoyed the scenery from sitting high in the backpack.
After we reached the bank of the river, we followed the trail over a narrow suspension footbridge that seemed like a much, much less dramatic version of the foot bridge Indiana Jones crossed in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It’s less than a 15ft drop to the river, but with large openings in the sides of the bridge I walked Ashley slowly across the bridge, trying to reiterate the importance of no jumping on the bridge.
After we crossed the bridge we turned left and continued along the trail and passed shallow swimming holes and small sandy “beach” areas where several families and dogs were enjoying the bank of the river. We continued on until we came to the wilderness cabin. There was a strange bikini photo shoot going on the deck of the cabin so we explored the inside rooms where the girls ran around and examined the window openings and log walls. After leaving the log cabin, we walked to the nearby gazebo and made it a short while longer on Cox Mountain Trail before turning around. Even though the whole loop is 3.75 miles and connects to more trails, we only made it about 3/4mile in before turning around.
On our hike back we stopped in one of the several swimming holes to splash around a bit, promising to bring the girls back again soon with bathing suits in tow. Other than over 25 miles of hiking, Eno River State Park offers fishing, camping, canoeing, educational programs, the annual Eno River Festival and more.
Thumbs up: river access with kid-friendly swimming holes and shallow flowing water, fun swinging bridge, shady picnic areas
Thumbs down: nothing to report