Parks and Walking Trails in Orange County

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Orange County – including the towns of Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, Carrboro and parts of Rougemont, Mebane and Durham – is a beautiful and vibrant area replete with parks and walking trails. These green spaces provide opportunities for residents and visitors alike to get out and enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of the Piedmont region. There is a park or trail to suit every need, whether you are looking for a peaceful stroll through the woods, a challenging hike up a mountain or a fun outing with friends and family. Our guide below provides information on some of the best parks and walking trails in Orange County, so you can make the most of your time in our charming towns

1. Little River Regional Park and Natural Area

301 Little River Park Way, Rougemount
Hosts 7 miles of hiking trails and 8 miles of single-track mountain biking trails as well as two picnic shelters with grills, a group camping site, a horseshoe pit and playground.

2. Cedar Grove Park

5800 Hwy. 86 N., Hillsborough
The park features lighted facilities including a 1/3-mile paved walking track, two baseball/softball fields and two basketball courts. It also has a fishing area, a multipurpose field, picnic shelters with tables and grills, and two playgrounds.

3. Fairview Park

195 Torain St., Hillsborough
Provides lighted facilities including a 1/4-mile ADA-accessible paved trail, a baseball/softball field, tennis courts and a basketball court. Other features include a horseshoe pit, a picnic shelter with tables and grills, a playground, trails and a volleyball court.

4. Riverwalk

Eno River Parking Deck at the end of Nash and Kollock streets, adjacent to the Gateway Center (Main access)
415 Dimmocks Mill Rd., Hillsborough (Gold Park access)
140 E. Margaret Ln., Hillsborough (River Park access)
A 1.8-mile paved, accessible, urban greenway that stretches along the Eno River between Gold Park and trails east of Hillsborough. It is popular for walking, jogging or cycling and connects several neighborhoods.

5. Poet’s Walk at Ayr Mount

376 St. Mary’s Rd., Hillsborough
This 1-mile walking trail meanders along the Eno River through the woodlands, meadows and fields surrounding the Federal-era Ayr Mount historic house.

6. Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail

320 Elizabeth Brady Rd., Hillsborough
The 1-mile oval dirt NASCAR speedway was active from 1948-1968, attracting the best stock car drivers and thousands of spectators. Today the track is enjoyed by hikers, runners and walkers. Other hiking trails surround the speedway.

7. Seven Mile Creek Natural Area

2187 Moorefields Rd., Hillsborough
Two miles of hiking trails through natural land undisturbed by roads; provides a home for various wildlife species. Includes the “Seven Mile Creek Sugar Maple Bottom,” the largest bottom land remaining in the county, and “Crabtree Creek Monadnock Ridge.”

8. Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area 

625 Virginia Cates Rd., Hillsborough
Managed by the Eno River State Park. Offers 3 miles of riverside forests and trails where visitors can walk, fish and enjoy sweeping views of Orange County. Rangers lead regular interpretive programs throughout the natural area. Picnic tables are available near the parking lot.

9. Cates Creek Park 

625 Virginia Cates Rd., Hillsborough
Managed by the Eno River State Park. Offers 3 miles of riverside forests and trails where visitors can walk, fish and enjoy sweeping views of Orange County. Rangers lead regular interpretive programs throughout the natural area. Picnic tables are available near the parking lot.

10. Eno River State Park

6101 Cole Mill Rd., Durham
This 4,319-acre state park surrounds the Eno River through Orange and Durham counties with five scattered access areas that feature mature forests, historic mill and home sites and river bluffs covered with flowering shrubs. It offers nearly 30 miles of trails along the swift, shallow stream, which is popular with anglers, photographers and sightseers. Canoeing and kayaking are permitted, but sometimes difficult due to shallow water.

11. George and Julia Brumley Family Nature Preserve

3055 New Hope Church Rd., Chapel Hill (Southern parking lot)
3620 Old State Hwy. 10, Chapel Hill (Northern parking lot)
This 613-acre preserve is a model for sustainable land management practices. It offers trails for hiking only, as well as multipurpose trails where mountain biking is permitted.

12. Pumpkin Loop Trail

(35.9383040, -79.0731244)
An easy 2.5-mile trail loop in Carolina North Forest. The wide, crushed gravel and dirt surface makes the trail ideal for running and walking. It also connects many single-track trails that wind deeper into the forest.

13. Blackwood Farm Park

4215 Hwy. 86 S., Hillsborough
Features 4 miles of hiking trails, an amphitheater, disc golf course, open fields, picnic shelters with tables and a pond with fishing area.

14. Duke Forest

Orange, Durham and Alamance counties
More than 7,000 acres of land across six divisions and one protected natural area. Gravel roads and dirt foot trails can be used for recreation including hiking, running, fishing and picnics, as well as horseback riding and mountain biking, as long as such use does not interfere with the research and teaching projects of Duke University.

15. Martin Luther King Jr. Park

1120 Hillsborough Rd., Carrboro
A 10.2-acre park with a multipurpose field and a community garden.

16. Henry Anderson III Community Park

302 Hwy. 54 W., Carrboro
A 55-acre park featuring multipurpose fields, a dog park, tennis courts, sand volleyball and basketball courts, baseball and softball fields and a half-mile walking trail.

Photo by Donn Young Photography

17. Bolin Creek Trail

120 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill (Community Center Park parking lot); parking also available along Bolinwood Drive
A 1.5-mile-long, 10-foot-wide paved greenway that connects the Community Center Park and the Battle Branch Trail. Ideal for biking, walking, running or roller skating.

18. Battle Park

Located at the corner of Country Club Road and South Boundary Street; metered parking is available nearby
A trail system throughout a 93-acre forest. Trails are on mostly uneven and rocky ground, which makes for good hiking as opposed to running. Koch Memorial Forest Theatre, a stone amphitheater that’s more than a century old, is located at one of the corners of the park.

19. Johnston Mill Nature Preserve

2713 Mount Sinai Rd., Chapel Hill
Known for similar scenery as Eno River State Park and Duke Forest, but these 3.5-miles of trails are less trafficked.

20. Hollow Rock Nature Park

692 Erwin Rd., Durham
This land is owned by Orange County, Durham County, the City of Durham and the Town of Chapel Hill and includes natural surface trails, information kiosks, a parking area, restrooms, picnic area and an ADA loop trail as well as an open meadow.

21. Cedar Falls Park

501 Weaver Dairy Rd., Chapel Hill
Multipurpose fields, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts and a 1.5-mile-long natural surface loop trail.

22. Morgan Creek Trail

(35.8934805, -79.0597501)
Out-and-back, 2.3-mile trail that connects to the town-owned Merritt’s Pasture.

23. North Carolina Botanical Garden

100 Old Mason Farm Rd., Chapel Hill
Various walking trails throughout the 88-acre forest behind the botanical garden. The trails are natural surfaces and follow along creeks and wind over hills.

24. Mason Farm Biological Reserve

A wide, gravel 2-mile trail loop that circles a 367-acre wildlife preserve and natural area on mostly flat terrain. The parking lot is across a low-overflow bridge, which can only be crossed by vehicles when the gauge reads fewer than 5 feet.

25. Carolina North Forest

(35.9383040, -79.0731244)
Seven-hundred-and-fifty acres of woodlands on UNC’s campus nestled between the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

26. Southern Community Park

1000 Dogwood Acres Dr., Chapel Hill
Pickleball and disc golf courts, a dog park, athletic fields and Fan Branch Trail and fitness circuit.

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Kevin Delgado

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