OPEN SPACES and BREATHTAKING PLACES
While most every destination has its own beautiful parks and greenways, we invite you to venture out to new spaces. Take a deep breath and find your zen in Orange County
This 1.8 mile urban greenway runs along the Eno River in Hillsbourough between Gold Park and trails east of town. The downtown portion which is accessible at Weaver Street Market is the primary route of the North Carolina Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail and one of few sections located in an urban environment. Entrance to the Riverwalk is at the end of Nash and Kollock Street.
Surrounding the historic home, Ayr Mount, is a one mile loop that winds through open spaces and woodlands, travels alongside the banks of the Eno River where you come across the Old Indian Trading Path and the Kirkland family Cemetery and pass the site where Few's Tavern once stood. Ayr Mount is located at 376 St. Mary's Rd in Hillsborough, NC and admission to the grounds is free.
The Occoneechee Speedway Trail is located across the Eno River opposite Ayr Mount historic house and is accessible at 320 Elizabeth Brady Rd in Hillsborough. The trails follow what was once a horse racetrack and later NASCAR Speedway and wonders through different woodland and riverside paths. These trails offer the perfect backdrop for historic buffs, dog walkers and nature enthusiasts. The 44-acre site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 2002.
Ayr Mount in Hillsborough is surrounded by 60 acres of gardens, woodlands and pastures plus trails opposite the Eno River. The grounds are open year round. The entrance to Ayr Mount is located at 376 St. Mary's Rd.
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
This North Carolina state park is the highest point in Orange County and a settlement of the Occaneechi tribe. The park covers 206 acres which includes Occoneechee Mountain and offers three miles of riverside forests, bluffs, mountain laurel and rhododendron thickets. Visitors can fish ponds for bass or panfish in the Eno River either by bank of wading its shallows. Shady Oaks and grassy lawns are perfect for picnics. (photo credit Landon Bost)
The Triangle Land Conservancy works to conserve open space in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Fortunately for us, two natural habitats are protected by this group in Orange County; Johnston Mill and Brumley Family Nature Preserves.
296 plush acres of a range of forest experiences with stout beech trees more than 150 years old, streams and 5 hiking trails. You'll also find evidence of a 200-year inhabitance in the ruins of two old gristmills along New Hope Creek.
Located in western Orange County, the preserve is 613 acres, boasts 5 hiking trails in Brumley North and 11 hiking trails in Brumley South. In the works is Brumley East, a 60-acres expansion to protect the tributary of Stoney Creek.
Hollow Rock Nature Park
Hollow Rock is a collaboration between Orange and Durham counties, the City of Durham and the Town of Chapel Hill. Natural surface trails, streams, New Hope Creek and open meadows can be found while hiking including a .6 mile loop trail and a .8 mile loop trail. Hollow Rock lies adjacent to Duke Forest which is maintained by Duke University and is also located in Durham and Orange counties as well as Alamance county. The entrance to Hollow Rock is located at 692 Erwin Rd.
BLACKWOOD FARM PARK
Blackwood Farm Park features four miles of hiking trails, historic farmlands, open fields, picnic areas with shelters and tables and a pond with a fishing area (requires fishing license, artificial bait only). Dogs on leashes are welcome at the park. Orange County purchased this 152-acre site in 2001. The park is open year round and currently open now, May thru August 8 am - 8 pm Thursday - Sunday. Entrance to the park is located at 4215 NC 86 S.