In the two weeks since our summery dip in the Cape Fear River, fall has sneaked into the Piedmont, complete with brisk temperatures and golden leaves and a time change that allows nighttime to accost you suddenly just after 5 p.m. Yesterday, a sunny, beautiful, and very autumnal day, we hiked the 3.75-mile Cox Mountain trail at Eno River State Park. It was chilly and the sky was that deep blue that comes only with fall.
Eno River State Park is a 25-minute drive from Chapel Hill. It’d be a great escape to the countryside, if Chapel Hill was the kind of urban jungle you needed to escape to the countryside from. The park is dominated, as its name suggests, by the Eno River, which winds its way without any hurry to Falls Lake, near Raleigh. I can’t call it a big river–Scott, who grew up next to the Columbia, would laugh–though it is more a big river than Cox Mountain, topping out at 680 feet, is a mountain. But the Eno River is a perfect size for strolling along and, in warm months, for a puppy to swim and a person to wade. And the Cox Mountain trail provides plenty of beautifully forested, mildly strenuous, and mostly deserted trail to work off the Halloween candy you didn’t share with the neighborhood kids.
The trail begins with a bang, or at least some swaying: a wooden suspension bridge across the river.
From the bridge, the trail ascends “steeply” to the “summit”. We weren’t sure when we reached the summit, but we couldn’t have asked for a lovelier, more sun-dappled trail.
Scott and Sasso run. They run way up ahead of me, then they run back, straight at me, and skid to a halt behind me. And then they repeat. So yesterday I walked about 4 miles, and Scott and Sasso may have run as much as 8. This strikes me as completely fair.
We amused ourselves along the way by trying to get good shots of ourselves with Sasso. A couple of times this worked well.
Mostly it didn’t.
Sasso rarely deigns to pose for pictures. Walking her on a fall day can feel like this:
The forest is still. Why should she be?