10 Hiking Spots Near the Triangle in NC

In my last post, I wrote about why you shouldn’t forget to travel in your own backyard. As I’ve tried to do some more traveling of my own in my backyard, I’ve been happy to say I’ve enjoyed many great hiking areas around the Triangle, many of which I didn’t even know existed before! So whether you’re from the Triangle and want to explore more or you’re visiting, I hope that you’ll take a look into some of these lovely hiking spots.

Apex

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

With options for hiking, camping, swimming, boating, picnicking and more, Jordan Lake offers many options to enjoy the outdoors. The lake is so big, and the beaches are nice enough that you can almost pretend like it’s the real deal!

Chapel Hill

Battle Park

Although small, Chapel Hill’s Battle Park is a great place to take a hike. Located on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus, this park offers a nice escape into nature from the busier parts of campus. It’s also home to the Forest Theater, where students will sometimes host performances or other events. Some of the trails in the park lead to a charming old Chapel Hill neighborhood as well.

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Carolina North Forest

Carolina North is perhaps UNC’s best-kept secret. No one seems to know about this 750-acre forest located close to the main campus. This forest is a great place to spend a few hours taking a leisurely stroll or go on a run. There are many trails that take you through the forest and sometimes by a stream.

Carolina Outdoor Education Center

The Outdoor Education Center (OEC) is a hidden gem on the UNC campus. Just a short walk from UNC’s law school, the OEC is home to a variety of trails that are great for hiking. Additionally, the OEC might have some mountain biking trails soon, and the center is also home to a Frisbee golf course, a zip line, a high ropes course and more.

Merritt’s Pasture

This charming plot of land is a great place to go to enjoy some nice weather and go on a hike, have a picnic, and/or play fetch with your dog (or just to see dogs – it seems to be a popular place among local dog owners). There’s a lovely bench underneath a tree at the top of a hill that has a great view over the pasture and the lake there. It’s certainly the perfect way to enjoy a nice sunny day – maybe with a Merritt’s BLT in hand too!

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Eno River State Park

Eno River State Park is a very cool hiking spot. If you love water, then this could be a good hiking spot for you, as some parts of the trails go along the river, and there’s a very cool bridge that goes over the water too. The park is big, and you could certainly spend hours there.

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Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

Occoneechee is definitely one of my favorite hiking spots in the Triangle because it has one of the best overlooks out of all the places on this list. And the overlook is definitely well worth the hill climbing it takes to get there.

Lillington

Raven Rock State Park

This expansive park, located south of the triangle has some very cool sights. There’s one overlook that offers a great view of the Cape Fear River. But what’s even cooler are the trails that take you down to the river and by some massive rocks.

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Umstead State Park

This park is also another one of my favorites. You could spend hours in this park. The last time I visited, I went on a six-mile hike. This park might not have any very cool overlooks, but it’s full of beautiful forests, lakes and streams. There are horse trails too, so you might see an occasional four-legged animal other than a dog.

Wake Forest

Falls Lake State Recreation Area

Similar to Jordan Lake, Falls Lake offers a variety of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. With hiking trails, boating, fishing and beaches available, you can certainly spend a lot of time at Falls Lake.

Where do you like to hike around the Triangle? Please share in the comments below!

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