Eno River State Park, an Urban Wonderland Oasis

Eno River State Park, an Urban Wonderland Oasis

Eno River State Park in Durham

Located just minutes from the urban centers of Durham, Hillsborough and Chapel Hill, Eno River State Park is a woodland oasis offering a nature respite from the rapid pace of city life.

The centerpiece of the park is without question its namesake river. The cool, clear waters of the Eno start as a shallow stream, then flow swiftly from northwest Orange County to join the Flat River and become the Neuse. The river eventually flows into Falls Lake in northern Wake County. The river valley here is narrow and steep walled, creating a ruggedly beautiful landscape carved by the Eno’s rapidly flowing waters.

Rocky, shallow waters make the Eno a challenge for canoeing and kayaking except after heavy rains, which can turn the river into a raging current and create class I, II and III rapids. Winter and spring offer the best opportunities to get out on the river as water levels tend to be highest during these seasons. Painted gauges measure water levels, and the best canoeing conditions are when the gauges measure one to three feet on road bridges and three to five feet on the Durham station USGS gauge. Anything above these levels is too dangerous for canoeing or kayaking.

Anglers, on the other hand, need not wait for high water. An abundance of largemouth bass, bluegill, chain pickerel, crappie and bullhead make this park one of the best fishing streams in the Neuse River Basin. Roanoke bass are also found in these waters, as are sunfish, redhorse and catfish. With this proliferation and variety of fish available, it’s easy to see why the Eno, Shakori and Occoneechee tribes lived near the river’s banks long before Europeans arrived.

Keep an eye out for wildlife as you hike besides the river on any of the 24 miles of trails offered at Eno River State Park. At dusk and dawn you may see a beaver swimming or bringing down a tree, a white-tailed deer getting a drink or a raccoon washing his meal on the waters. Chipmunks and gray squirrels are playful park patrons. Even river otters occasionally frequent the park to the delight of visitors. Bird calls provide an almost constant symphony along the river, as Acadian flycatchers, yellow-throated warblers and even great horned owls call from their streamside perches.

All campsites at the park require hiking in, and with a maximum hike distance of 1.2 miles, these backwoods camping sites are ideal for experienced and new campers alike. Both family/individual campsites and group campsites have a pad for tents, fire ring, lantern hook and bathroom facilities.

Because of the park’s close proximity to some of North Carolina’s urban hubs, two scenic picnic areas provide the perfect spot in which to get away from the hustle and bustle and spend an afternoon enjoying the serenity of nature at its finest.

North Carolina State Parks offer a variety of fun, leisure and adventurous activities in nature, but this also includes potential hazards. Take care, be safe and enjoy.

Jason Frye

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