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Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough

(4.7/5 based on 70 reviews on the web)
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area is a North Carolina state park in Orange County, North Carolina in the United States. Located adjacent to the town of Hillsborough, it covers 190acre and includes Occoneechee Mountain, the highest point (867 ft) in Orange County and a settlement of the Occaneechi tribe.HistoryRising more than 350ft from the Eno River, the Occoneechee Mountain summit is the highest point in Orange County.Researchers believe that the area's habitat has remained relatively unchanged since the last Ice Age due to the presence of the brown elfin, a rare butterfly, and several unique plant species. The brown elfin is typically found in mountainous and northern areas, and the nearest brown elfin population to Occoneechee is more than 100mi west. When the Piedmont's habitat underwent enormous transformations after the Ice Age, the area became unable to support the brown elfin and other species more accustomed to cooler environments. Brown elfins, believed to have once populated the Piedmont, were restricted to the state's mountains. However, the brown elfin butterflies at Occoneechee Mountain remained.The land the state natural area now sits on was originally settled by the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, who traveled to the mountain from the west. In the colonial period, European immigrants settled the area. Until 1987, a mill village occupied a section of the natural area. The NC Division of Parks and Recreation first purchased land at Occoneechee Mountain in December 1997. Since then, the natural area has grown to nearly 124 acres.
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  • I've been on this hike a couple of times now, and I really enjoy it. I miss my easy access to Blue Ridge Parkway and tons of trails, but this is a good one for our area! You can make it as hard or as ...  more »
  • This NC State Park is relatively small as far as State Parks go, but it packs a lot in. The park is basically the footprint of Occoneechee Mountain, the tallest hill in the area. It is bordered by I-8...  more »
  • The Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area is one that cannot be written about it must be seen to believe the beauty, There are park rangers available to help or to explain. Need some quiet, thinking...  more »
  • Perfect hike to a tranquil view of Hillsborough. Best view in the area without having to drive to hanging rock or pilot mountain.
  • Awesome trails. It feels like you are in the mountains. The trails are pretty steep.
  • Love going here. Great place to take people who are visiting out of state. Easy hikes to great views.
  • This place is a little hidden gem, nestled just off the highway. Although the trail isn't ideal for running because of all the rocks and tree roots, it's a great little challenge hike. Plenty of elevation changes- it's not just an uphill hike and then a descent, like many mountain trails... this one kind of just circles around the mountain. The rock quarry is a sweet aclove, ideal for picnicking, and there's some views on the Eno river. Minus one star, because, well, I reserve those 5 stars for Yosemite :)
  • Beautiful and accessible for hikers of all levels.