Friday, May 29, 2015

2015-05-24 Occoneechee Mountain Hike

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
with Hugh, Grace, and Smores
Hillsborough, NC
Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Smores' First Hike!

Smores on her first hike

Originally I had planned on going camping for Memorial Day Weekend.  Since I would be away, Amy decided to plan a trip for herself to visit her sister in Chapel Hill, NC.

My camping plans fell apart, so I ended up going along with Amy to Chapel Hill.

It was a very enjoyable visit.  We got to spend some quality time with our nieces, we threw a birthday party for Amy's sister Jenny, and my brother-in-law Hugh and I enjoyed sampling a wide variety of craft brews.

And I did get to go hiking!

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area is located in Hillsborough, NC about 20 minutes up the interstate from Chapel Hill.  Joining me would be Hugh, my niece Grace, and their dog Smores.  This would be Smores' first hike!

Occoneechee Mountain Trail Map

We decided to do the Occoneechee Mountain Loop trail in the clockwise direction.  The first part of the trail is rather uninteresting and very noisy as I-85 runs right along the southern park boundary.  Once the trail turned to north, it became a little more enjoyable.

 Hugh, Smores, and Grace

The north side of the loop takes you by a short stretch of the Eno River and a wide assortment of cool rock formations.

 Hugh, Grace, and Smores hiking down the Trail

 A Sign just begging to be ignored

Occoneechee Mountain is the highest "peak" in Orange County, NC.  Unfortunately, the actual summit is off limits.  However a side trail off the main loop took us to a nice overlook area.

Grace enjoying the view from the Occoneechee Mountain Overlook

Grace and Smores

We didn't see much in the way of wildflowers along the hike, but the Mountain Laurel was in full bloom.

Hugh, Grace, and Smores hiking by some blooming Mountain Laurel

Towards the end of the loop, the trail passes by a couple of small fishing ponds which made for a nice scenic end to our hike.

 Occoneechee Fishing Pond

Grace and Smores

 Grace checking out the tadpoles

If you are in the area and feel like getting out for a short hike, Occoneechee Mountain is worth checking out.  However, it is not a destination I would recommend going out of your way to visit.

What makes a visit to Occoneechee Mountain even more worth while is an after hike brew or two at the Mystery Brewing Company located just a few minutes away from the park.

 Inside the Mystery Brewing Company Public House - Hillsborough, NC

I have been to many local craft breweries over the past few years, and the Mystery Brewing Company is near the top of my list both in terms of atmosphere and quality of their beer!

I am not sure if I will ever make a return visit to Occoneechee Mountain, but I will definitely be back to Mystery Brewing!

Smores relaxing at home after her first hike!

The Complete set of photos is posted here:

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