Two miles of new natural surface trail at Seven Mile Creek Natural Area near Hillsborough officially opened to the public on October 9. As additional trail is constructed in the area, these new trails will become part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail route. This first phase of trail building, which includes a parking lot, picnic tables and a handicap accessible trail, was completed by Orange County Parks and Recreation.
Neighbors, county commissioners, county staff and MST volunteers gathered to celebrate the trail opening, and enjoyed a hike through the area, despite the rainy day. This section of trail begins to establish the new MST route as it comes out of Hillsborough to the west and makes its way towards Cane Creek Reservoir in southwestern Orange County.
Seven Mile Creek Natural Area is a portion of a larger 366 acre Upper Eno Nature Preserve, and is one of the largest blocks of natural and undeveloped land in central Orange County. The preserve includes the “Crabtree Creek Monadnock Ridge” and the “Sevenmile Creek Sugar Maple Bottom” which is considered the richest bottomland remaining in the county.
While passing through Seven Mile Creek Natural Area, hikers might see a large stand of southern sugar maple, hackberry and swamp chestnut oak, herbs, and other rare plants and significant wildlife. The preserve is home to turkey, barred owls and red shoulders hawks, and is an important wildlife corridor.
The next phase of trailbuilding in Seven Mile Creek Natural Area will continue to take the trail further down to the creek, with Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail volunteers leading the charge. If you are interested in volunteering, send an email with your contact information to Task Force Leader Bill Boyarsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.