Are you on the hunt for outdoor activities this summer? Well, look no further! These six hiking destinations boast a diversity of trail lengths and features, perfect for an afternoon excursion.  

Hollow Rock Nature Park

This relatively new nature park is located at 692 Erwin Road. Its two main trails are both less than one mile long and feature mostly flat terrain. Though short in length, these trails include several notable facets such as a spacious meadow and beautiful views of New Hope Creek. Hollow Rock Nature Park also includes an access trail to Duke Forest, where longer hiking loops are available as well as highly recommended. Overall, this hidden gem is perfect for a casual jaunt or summer walk. 

Address: 692 Erwin Rd, Durham, NC 27707

Al Buehler Trail

Very popular among runners and joggers, this 2.91-mile loop is located at 3001 Cameron Boulevard, near the Duke Faculty Club. The spacious gravel trail surrounds the Washington Duke Golf Course and offers excellent views of the greens. Though relatively steep in places, the route’s spacious feel and varied environs more than make up for its hilliness. A newly renovated fitness loop is also soon to be completed, which will consist of 20 stations for exercise and stretching. But whether one goes there to work out or not, the Al Buehler Trail is an excellent place to escape the stresses of the day.  

Address: 3001 Cameron Blvd, Durham, NC 27705

Eno River State Park

Home to Durham’s most famous river, the Eno, this State Park is also home to over 27 miles of hiking trails! Throughout these various routes can be found a multitude of delightful views and landmarks. One such feature, a cable suspension bridge located within the Cox Mountain Trail, presents an excellent view of the powerful river below. Swimming, fishing and canoe access are also available throughout different stretches of the Eno. And because it is so vast, there are many potential launch points for hiking. A quick internet search is recommended to find the ideal starting point for you, but the trailheads at 6101 Cole Mill Road are a great place to start!

Address: 6101 Cole Mill Rd, Durham, NC 27705

Johnston Mill Nature Preserve    

Located at 2713 Mount Sinai Road, the Johnston Mill Nature Preserve possesses natural beauty consistent with that of its more popular neighbors (Eno River State Park and Duke Forest), without the crowdedness often associated with those places. Johnston Mill Nature Preserve may not be the largest hiking destination around (with roughly 3.5 miles of hiking trails available), but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with its serene environment. The trickle of New Hope Creek can be heard along nearly every route and several benches scattered throughout the preserve offer perfect spaces for quiet contemplation. 

Address: 2713 Mount Sinai Road

Valley Springs Park 

Although not a hiking destination in the strictest sense, Valley Springs Park (located at 3805 Valley Springs Road) is included on this list for its naturally canopied, uniquely spacious forest disc golf trail. The 22-hole course is very popular among local disc golfers for its open feel and varied terrain. Considerable shade throughout nearly the entire course makes up for its frequent hilliness. In addition to the frisbee golf section, the park features a soccer field, several baseball fields, a picnic shelter/tables, and a small playground for children. With something for just about everyone, Valley Springs Park is certainly worth a visit this summer!

Address: 3805 Valley Springs Road

Eno Rock Quarry

Located within Eno River State Park (described above), the Eno Rock Quarry is receiving a more detailed description for its uniqueness and popularity among Durham locals. The four-acre pond was originally used as a stone quarry before it was flooded in 1964. Now nearly 60 feet in depth, the NC Division of Parks and Recreation strongly advises against swimming for obvious risks. Regardless, the quarry remains a popular swimming hole for local teens and college students. After parking along 4955 Howe Street, a mile-long hike is required to reach the quarry. This hike, as well as the trail encircling the quarry are very scenic and definitely worth visiting, although swimmers, again, are to be extremely cautious. 

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Ian Lobaugh
Author: Ian Lobaugh

Bull City born and raised, I’ve been privileged to enjoy so many of the incredible things our unique home has had to offer. From morning trips through Downtown Durham to late night walks at American Tobacco, I’ve had and continue to have such beautiful memories in this city and am thrilled at the chance to share them through BOTB. Currently a senior at UNC Chapel Hill, I major in Public Relations and minor in History and English. I’m an avid tennis player and hiking enthusiast and can usually be found doing one or the other when I’m not in class.