Web Site: http://www.triangleland.org/lands/tlc/white_pines_np.shtml
Directions: (I’m copying this from the TLC site as it seems a bit tricky getting there the 1st time!)
From Pittsboro: Go south on US 15-501 for 8 miles from the Chatham County Courthouse traffic circle. Turn left on River Fork Road (SR 1958), the first left after crossing the Rocky River bridge. On River Fork Road, turn right immediately and proceed for 1.7 miles. Turn right at the stop sign and continue 0.5 miles to the TLC Preserve sign. Turn left and drive about 1/8 mile to the parking area on your right. More parking is available through the small lot, under the powerline.
Distance: ~ 3 miles (if you do all the trails)
Difficulty: moderate (a couple steep climbs but relatively short)
Description: Quite secluded — the drive back seems like you are going quite a ways in. Gorgeous land and it is cool to see where the two rivers merge — especially when water is flowing fast after a good rain, but then it will be muddy. Bugs can be bad in the summer. There are different trails and if you want to do them all, you have to double back on a few of them.
Map of trails from TLC (click for larger image):
In order to get all the trails on the GPS track, I had to double back a few times (e.g. the Comet Trail, part of the White Pines Trail).
When you park at the trail heads you have a couple options on which way to go. This shows the marquee and the start of the White Pines Trail, and a down tree blocking the start of one of the trails. But it is easy to get around. There are normally a good supply of information booklets in the marquee, and they have the map included above…
If you take the School Kids “loop” near the bottom and by the Rocky River, you come up on an old cable bridge… not much to see except one of the cables and the river these days.
The benches at the David Howells memorial… This site sits high and sort of overlooks the Rocky, but even in the fall and winter the trees are pretty dense so the view is limited.
Lots of vernal pools depending on the season and how much rain we’ve had…
Here is the other option you have at the start. This is really the Gilbert Yager Trail, not the River trail. The sign is saying the River trail is 1 mile away. I did not get that the 1st time I read it.
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This place is confusing for folks new to hiking. We got lost and ended up covered in ticks. Guess we needed a trail guide. . . agree the signage is confusing.
Did you have the map??