If you are looking for a longer hike with lots of elevation change, this is some of the best in the Triangle.
From the parking lot, follow the signs for Cox Mountain Trail
down to the river and across the suspension bridge. Pass the campground and stay left on the Cox Mountain Trail
loop. The next mile quickly brings you to the top of Cox Mountain. You head down just as quickly and soon after you arrive at the river you can rock hop across at Holden's Ford.
Now on Holden Mill Trail
, you are at the ruins of the old mill. Continue along the river looking for the trail to head up hill to the left as you come down to a creek crossing. When you make the crossing, you follow the creek up until the trail peels off to ascend more directly. After the quick ascent you come back down again
At the bridge crossing stay left on Buckquarter Creek Trail
. The trail quickly meets an intersection with Ridge Trail
where you can turn left again.
The first half mile moves along through thick forest. Pass the local access trail, Knight Trail
, and soon you arrive atthe turnoff for the Shakori Trail
on the right. Shortly after, on the left, you find the Buckquarter group campground. From here, the trail builds more powerfully at you rise into beautiful, mature forest. The trail ends at a gate where you can turn around or loop back on the Shakori Trail
The the trail begins by meandering through open, mature hardwood forest. As you drop down you curve along the edge of the hill where eventually you stay find yourself above a wetlands along the Buckquarter Creek. Turn left as you reconnect with Ridge Trail
Following Ridge Trail
down you meet Buckquarter Creek Trail
again. This time staff left to attain the last set of rolling hills that rise up and down above the river. Finally the trail arrives at the river again.
Follow the trail down stream past a few swimming holes until you pass the suspension bridge again and follow Cox Mountain Trail
back to the parking lot.