Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hanging out with Umstead's slutty sister

4/14 run 60 mins @ Eno River on Cox Mountain Trail and Fanny's Ford Trail in MT101 with Superfeet Green

HR avg 152 max 172

My plan was to head back to the Cole Mill Road entrance for a nice, easy run on the same trails we ran the Saturday before Mountains-to-Sea.  I remembered roughly how to get there, but decided to consult my car GPS just in case.  So I searched "Eno River State Park" and picked out the one that said "Cole Mill", this is where the problems started.  See, if I had brought a park map with me I would have known there are two different park access points on Cole Mill Road.  So things looked kind of familiar as I made my way into the park, but nothing looked quite right and next thing I know, the road dead ends into a parking lot.  I manage to catch one of the nearby park signs by the picnic benches and I see it reads "Cox Mountain".  Hmm, m-o-u-n-t-a-i-n that sounds like a nice easy trail.  Now I do remember a few things from the park map at home, one being that Cox Mountain is listed as a strenuous trail and with a name like that I'm expecting a few climbs.  By this time I'm already an hour behind schedule thanks to the UPS Store and a funeral procession.  I needed to drop off a package, but instead I got to watch them wrap some guy's fishing pole for 20 minutes.  Then, on my way to the Durham Freeway, I run into the most baller funeral procession I've ever seen.  I counted at least 5 Durham Police and Sheriff Harley Davidsons, countless patrol cars, 4 limos and 3 hearses.  So instead of trying to figure out where I went wrong with the directions, I figure I'll just wing it.  I make sure to text the +1 my whereabouts so I don't have to chew off a limb if things go bad.

I check out the park maps by the picnic tables and see there are two trails in this section.  My plan will be to hit both of them to give me about an hour of running time.  I also grab my completely not running friendly digital camera from the car after being inspired by the great work of Shannon Johnstone during the Mountains-to-Sea-Trail Race last weekend.  Here's a comparison of the western trail map and what my gps watch shows.  I only missed one turn, which shows up as the little point going off into the river at the top of the gps data (no, I did not try to run through the Eno River).
 The two most memorable sections are the ridiculous climb near the beginning of Cox Mountain Trail and the equally, if not more so, ridiculous downhill section.  Now there are a lot of shorter ascents and descents throughout the trail, but if you run this you will know the two sections I'm talking about.  I was wanting an easy run to get the stiffness out and practice keeping my heart rate under 155, but what I got was more of a quad grinding, ankle busting slog session.  I could feel the pressure increasing in my knee once I got on the flatter Fanny's Ford Trail, but by then the quickest way out was to finish the trail.

This is another beautiful set of trails and Cox Mountain is definitely a bit more demanding than anything I've run at Umstead.  I can't wait to run these when I'm healthy again!  Here are some photos I managed to snap on the go.  I took 83 photos and all but 16 turned out ok.  I'll post a few here and if anyone wants to see the rest let me know and I'll see about posting them somewhere.

access trail to suspension bridge
To the Footbridge!
Eno River pre-trail
So apparently you aren't supposed to run on suspension bridges
going up!
Down by the river
So I heard you like the roots
Up? Down?  I don't even know anymore.
Beautiful day on Fanny's Ford Trail
Running through a trench

So I spent another day with Umstead's slutty sister and I have to say she's wild, fun and a real free spirit, but much like a real slutty sister, she's probably going to get you in trouble if you hang out with her too much.  I only saw one other person and that was on the way out.  Compared to many other trails, there is a real sense of wilderness here.  It's hard to describe.  Maybe it's the number of other creatures I experienced on the run combined with the isolation from humanity.  It's nice to feel outnumbered for a change.


  1. Oh no, Andrew, don't reveal the secret of the Eno River State Park trails! Especially, Cox Mtn!! ;-)

    Those are my "secret" favorite trails in the entire area. They are remote, quiet, and beautiful. You actually beat me to doing a blog post on Cox Mountain. If you want hill training, you can't beat that trail. Oh, and you *can* run across Eno at Fanny's Ford. If you do that there are some excellent long loops you can do starting from there. But don't tell anyone!

  2. Whoa! I hadn't even though to look at trails in Durham yet! This looks awesome. I'm gonna tell everyone about it. ;-P

    Seriously, though, thanks for the great pictures. I'd love to have a day or two that I could spend running around the Eno area.

  3. Der Scott:
    I figured by spreading the word, I can avoid a 127hrs type situation ;-) When you say "cross", do you mean "ford" as in fanny's ford, as in through the water?
    Yes, spread the word!

  4. @Andrew - Yeah, cross as in ford. It's not deep at all there. If you don't mind running in wet shoes, it opens up some interesting long loops in conjunction with Cox mtn.

    On a side note, I've never seen a trail race run at Eno, but it would be a very cool place to have one.