Built on the banks of the Eno River, historic Hillsborough was once home to the Occoneechee tribe of Native Americans, and you will find that tribal name in abundance as you explore the town and its surrounding areas. A significant participant in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the town is host to many landmarks and museums. It is also in an area perfect for outdoor recreation for you and your canine companion to explore, with parks and trails in abundance.
One of the most popular and frequently visited Hillsborough attractions is the dog-friendly Riverwalk, a wide, paved greenway that connects several neighborhoods and regional trails, including a downtown portion that follows the River Park. Approximately 2 miles long, it is wide enough for biking as well as walking, and Fido is welcome to join you on-leash as you explore. It includes wooden bridges and walkways across difficult terrain and wet areas, as well as lookout and rest spots for observing wildlife or just taking in the views of the Eno River Corridor.
When hunger strikes, you’ll find several eateries in Hillsborough to satisfy it. For example, Saratoga Grill on Churton St serves up hearty, satisfying American fare for lunch and dinner, and your fur-buddy is welcome to join you at one of the outdoor tables. Chow down!
The Town Center neighborhood is home to the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. Like all North Carolina State Parks, it is dog-friendly for on-leash pups. The park contains 4 intersecting trails with a combined length of over 3 miles. Featuring climbs to the highest point in the area, and treks through native rhododendron and mountain laurel, the trails provide scenic views and lots for Fido to explore with his nose to the ground. Take a rest and share a bite with him in the shade of the picnic area’s oaks, at tables or on the lawn. If fishing is a favorite pastime, there are 2 small ponds where you can cast your line, with Fido by your side for moral support. This neighborhood also hosts the dog-friendly, 20-acre Gold Park, through which passes a small section of the Riverwalk. Equipped with covered picnic areas and a large expanse of lawn, Gold Park also contains the Gold Park Dog Park, a fenced off-leash dog run with separate sections for large and small dogs. Paw-tastic!
In the Eno/ Cabes Ford neighborhood sits the dog-friendly Eno River State Park. With nearly 30 miles of trails, this is an on-leash dog-walking paradise. The park follows the Eno River as it meanders through Orange County, and its trails range from easy and ambling to challenging, like the Buckquarter Trail on which you climb stone stairs to an outcropping for a view of what are known as the most spectacular rapids on the river. The Cox Mountain Trail features a suspension foot bridge over the river and climbs 270 feet in a steep ascent to the top of the mountain. The park also offers backcountry camping with walk-in access, 20 picnic sites with drinking water and restrooms, and streams for fishing or paddling. Your furry bestie will have lots to keep her interested, and so you will you! Woof-derful!
Duke Forest is owned and managed by Duke University, and a portion of it resides in this neighborhood of Hillsborough. Besides its purpose as a research and educational site, the Forest is maintained as an outdoor recreational area, which is good news for you and your furry-faced companion. Featuring nature trails and instructive signage throughout the park’s more than 7000 acres, you will come upon streams, wildflowers, woods and meadows. Trails are gravel or dirt, and can accommodate walkers, runners, bicyclists and horseback riders in most areas. Your fur-buddy needs to be leashed, and no off-trail venturing is allowed because of the sensitive nature of the plant and wildlife found in the Forest. Fishing is permitted, with a popular angling spot being along New Hope Creek. Arf! Fresh fish for dinner!
Just 13 miles south of the center of Hillsborough sits the dog-friendly town of Chapel Hill. The Homestead Rd neighborhood is home to a large portion of the Carolina North Forest. The 750-acre woodland features a mixture of trails and trail surfaces to meet everyone’s needs, from dog walkers to runners, bicyclists and hikers. Fido must be leashed and controlled. Trek under or over a wooden bridge, around or through grassy meadows between stands of trees, along gurgling streams and railroad tracks. This park has something for everyone! Although most trailheads are marked and offer trail maps, some entry points are not, so it would be a good idea to visit the University of North Carolina’s website and print yourself a trail map.
This neighborhood of Chapel Hill is home to the Homestead Dog Park, a half-acre fenced off-leash park where your best fur-buddy can socialize, exercise and just be a dog. The park has a double-gate entry for safety, and the sturdy fence is a full 5 feet high to discourage climbers. The park is divided into areas for large and small doggos. Picnic areas and shelters are provided for the humans’ comfort, while they monitor their fur-babies as they play. Lots of shade trees dot the packed dirt and mulch surface. Just be sure to bring towels for those post-rain muddy days. Drinking water is provided, and in the summer, the park provides kiddie pools for the pups to cool off in. Paw-tastic!