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Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area offers scenic views, safe distancing

Posted May 21, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2020 1:57 p.m. EDT

Explore our state, safely: As North Carolina emerges from a coronavirus stay-at-home order, families are looking for options to leave the house while maintaining a safe social distance. Each week, WRAL Out & About will introduce a different day trip option to allow you to venture out and still avoid large crowds.

Looking to get out and about and enjoy nature? The Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough offers three miles of trail to explore.

Looming more than 350 feet above the Eno River, the mountain summit is also reportedly the highest point between Hillsborough and the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area website.

The existence of the rare butterfly the brown elfin and several unique plant species have led researchers to believe that the habitat at Occoneechee Mountain hasn't changed much since the last Ice Age.

In addition to hiking, there are also a pair of ponds for fishing for bass and bream. The nearby Eno River is also a great fishing option, especially for fly-fishers.

What to know before you go

Where: 625 Virginia Cates Road, Hillsborough, NC 27278

Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hiking trails are open. Bathrooms are open but will be closed periodically throughout the day for regular cleaning. Note: Oconeechee is open but gates will be closed when parking lot is full so parks officials suggest arriving before 9 a.m. to ensure you get a spot.

Questions: Occoneechee Mountain is managed by the Eno River State Park. Contact them with any questions before you head out there by phone 919-383-1686.

Trails: There are four different routes you can take. You can opt to take the trail around the mountain or take the Brown Elfin Knob or Overlook trails through the forest for higher views. The Overlook trail's scenic view is currently closed.

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