The Eno River State Park is definitely one of our favorite places in Durham. It gives us the chance to feel like we're out in nature even though we're only a few miles away from home. There are so many sections of the river that are fun for a hike. Before my husband and I had kids, we hiked around the Eno with our dog on lots of summer days, spending the whole day wandering around the park. Now that we have kids our hiking has to be a little different-we can't go quite as far with little toddler legs. Buckquarter Creek Trail and the Fews Ford area of the Eno River State Park are our picks for most toddler-friendly spots to get in a little kid hiking and explore the river.
What it is: To hike at this part of the park simply park where Cole Mill Road dead ends into the park. You will turn right directly after you enter the park to find your way to the parking lot for the Buckquarter Creek Trail-my pick for most kid-friendly hike in the park. The nice thing about this parking lot is that it is next to the museum. The museum houses very nice indoor bathrooms that you can check out before the hike.
One beautiful sunny day, our little family including my husband, 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons, and small furry puppy dog headed out to the Buckquarter Creek Trail for a little family-friendly hiking. When the trail met up with the river a few hundred feet after the start of the hike, there was the nice calm Fews Ford area of the river where we saw many kids and their parents swimming and wading around the calm water.
While we didn't wade that day, we came back another day to do some wading and had a great time wandering around in Fews Ford which was shallow and calm enough for even my two year old son to navigate himself (with a parent watching carefully a few feet away just in case). You could go wading there at the beginning of the hike, but we recommend waiting until after your hike so you can really play around and get messy. There are some grassy patches near the Ford area so you could also bring a picnic to enjoy while you're wading.
The Buckquarter Creek trail itself is a 1.5 mile loop trail, but the first half of the trail is directly along the river. We simply went up the river as long as we wanted and then turned around and hiked back. There was a lookout a short distance up the trail where we could look down on the "rapids" area of the river which was neat. In addition to watching rapids, there were also several big stone steps and other spots where you could step into the river or onto rocks in the river. It was great toddler climbing and exploring, but make sure to bring your net so you can catch some of these tiny fishies to study.
What we liked: We had to comment on this part of the park because it looked like such a fun place for kids. Every part of the trail had access points to the river where you could either watch the river or explore. It was also easy to turn around and head back whenever we got tired. In addition, there was a great calm area at the beginning where kids could enjoy swimming with their parents there for safety.
What we would change: The only negative was that there were no picnic tables at that particular parking lot. It wasn't a really big deal because there was the grassy area near Fews Ford where we could picnic. However, I imagine that on a summer weekend day that bank could get pretty crowded.
Website and other important information:
Location: The Fews Ford area is located at the Northern dead end of Cole Mill Rd. in Durham.