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Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough

Categories: Wildlife Areas, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.7/5 based on 60+ 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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  • This is a great local getaway from the busy city life of Durham, Chapel Hill and other nearby suburbs. Easy to park and walk up to the overlook. It's no Western NC mountains, but for being central NC ...  read more »
  • I'm on the Occoneechee Mountain trails multiple times each month. Sometimes I'm alone running or going for a walk with my wife and friends. Our favorite is the mountain loop trail. It provides good ex...  read more »
  • It's a nice free half a day trip. There are several trails you can go to. The top is not that far away. It's cute up there. 
  • 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 :)
  • Awesome trails. It feels like you are in the mountains. The trails are pretty steep.
  • A hidden gem. Our family loved the hiking and the view. We saw deer on the trail!
  • This park is great for short hikes with kids. There are some steep slopes but beautiful views and a pretty neat quarry. Lots of fun!
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