Haw River West “Scramble”

I’ve wanted to attempt this run for a while…  Turns out it is much more of a scramble than a run, as there is not a whole lot of trail.  Lots of bushwhacking, bouldering, and even a couple cliff climbs.

Here is what I wrote on Daily Mile:

Ouch! Brutal! Loved it! 🙂

That was much harder than I thought, even though I have done much of the southern sections of this route before, though not all at once. I had not been on the last 2.5 miles or so of the north part before the turn around at Bynum…

Lots of bushwhacking, a few cliff climbs, bouldering. In fact I’d guess that less than 35% of this is on a real trail. And once you pass the power line north of 64, there is NO trail.

I made it to about a quarter mile south of the old Bynum bridge, and I could see the dam at 15/501. But I turned there because I reached someone’s personal property. There were yellow signs showing the “state park” land but with the water as high as it was, I didn’t feel like trespassing. Never know who might pull a shot gun on you! (Next time I’ll just jump on Bynum Beech Road, which I ran next to for a bit.)

I experimented with Chia “fresca” as my only fuel. Two 20 oz bottles of 3-4 TB of chia seeds, a little lime juice, and a little honey, and the rest water.. I will need to try this again. I felt pretty dead by the end, but I can’t tell if that was the course beating it out of me or if it was Chia not fueling me as much as my normal fuel, pPerpetuem.

About 9 minutes slower on the way back, but some of that was route selection. Instead of going “up and over” I went down by the water and with the water level it more bouldering and climbing than I expected!

Looking forward to trying this on the “east” side soon!

Trails of Chatham County: Briar Chapel

Location: See Map

Description: Briar Chapel is a new “mega” development in Chatham County.  They plan on miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, so that is great for those of us close enough by to use them!  I’ve only been out here a few times.  Right now there are a combination of double track/fire road and single track.  The mountain bike trails can be quite technical and difficult for non experienced riders!  They are tight and twisty, with lots of rocks and roots.  The trail itself, when you are on it, is un-blazed but not difficult to follow.  The difficulty comes from mixing and matching the fire roads and single track into one cohesive hike/run.  You can park in the neighborhood itself where there is a marquee, though the trail map leaves a lot to be desired.  The GPS track below shows parking at the construction area of the new school off Andrews Store road, just past Woods Charter.  The single track on the back side of Woods Charter is quite nice, while the single track in the neighborhood on the south side of the “parkway” is quite technical.  There is also the trail along the power lines, which in the summer I understand is over grown — so watch out for ticks and chiggers.

Distance: This is a bit hard to say…  You can make it pretty long, if you want.  The GPS track below shows about 6 miles.  You can also make it short depending on where you park and the route you choose.

Difficulty: This again is hard to say.  There are sections of the single track that are quite technical.  There are also several decent hills mixed in — while none are that long, a couple are pretty steep.



None taken…

Trails of Chatham County: Seaforth at Jordan Lake


Directions: See Map above

Distance: 1.4 mile loop

Difficulty: Easy

Description: This is a nice one if you have younger children.  It is short at 1.4 miles, has a playground, a beach, and a sand volleyball court.  There are also numerous picnic tables, grills, and one large shelter.   While 1.4 miles is short, it is not a bad trail to run two or three times.  There is almost no elevation change on the entire trail.  The only real problem with this trail is that when the lake water level is high, the western portion of the loop may be under water, even the board walk they have built because of this.

GPS track:

(Not sure why but Google Earth shows “Seaforth Lake.”  It is definitely Jordan Lake… Just Seaforth Recreational Area.)


Marque at the trailhead, showing the map, among other things.

The start of the “boardwalk:”

The boardwalk, under water on the day I went:

View of US 64 from the west side of the loop:

The large shelter:

You can see the “smoke stack” from Sharon Harris Nuclear Plant at the beach and playground area:

Part of the playground:

Trails of Chatham County: TLC White Pines


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):

GPS track:

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.

Trails of Chatham County: Haw River @ US 64 West


You can park at US 64 and the Haw River “intersection” on the West side of the river, and hike north or south; or park at the Robeson Creek Canoe Access point off Hanks Chapel Road and hike north.

Level: moderate to strenuous depending on water conditions and how far off trail/river you have to go…  South of 64 there are some “cliffs” you may have to climb up and over depending on route selection

Description: unofficial and unmaintained, or at best “semi” maintained by the boaters and fishermen that use this section… (And you will occasionally run in to hikers, but not often in my experience.)  No markers on the trails, and while most sections are obvious, some are not.  Just keep the river on the East and don’t wander too far west and you should not get lost.

North and South (partial) GPS markers:

Here are GPS tracks on both the north and south side.  The south side is only a partial as the water level was too high (10 feet, just under flood level, on the USGS Bynum Gauge) to make it all the way to Gabriel’s Bend.  (Well, at least with the two kids with me!)

(North zoomed in)

A bit more detail on the north end…   There are some sections that may be a bit of a bushwhack depending on conditions.  Just keep the river on the east side of you and you can’t get lost.  I.e. don’t wander too far to the west.  I think I could make it all the way to 15/501 on this path and hope to try it some day.   There is a split just north of 64 that leads you up and over/around a section of the river that will not be passible in high water (perhaps 6-7 feet on the gauge).  I went both ways so both routes would be visible in the GPS track, but again, the lower section is much less defined and at points you are on rocks on the edge of the river.

South (partial) zoomed in…

Again, could not make it all the way to US 64 this day, but I will update this the next time I make the whole route.    Normally when you park at Robeson creek you do not have to head as far away from the river as the image below shows, but the water was very high this day, just under 11 feet or flood level on the Bynum Gauge. (Of course the water level is not shown in this satellite image)… When the water is is high, the section near the parking lot is under water.  Due to the high water there was a lot of off trail hiking as you can tell from the two slightly different routes on the out and back.

Photos (North of 64):

Some of the sites you will see on

If you choose to go the “low” route, or the route closer to the river than up and over, it becomes much less of a trail, and in some places more of a bushwhack and/or scramble.  If the water is high, this section would not be passible.  Check the USGS Bynum Guage.  Anything over 6 ft and your probably will need to swim it.  I.e. don’t do it!

This is what I call a “wash up,” which is where all the trash that comes down river on a big rain ends up.  I’d like to go back and clean this up one day.

This is what I wore out when I took the GPS on the north section..  It was a bit muddy!

Photos (south of 64):

South of 64 is the most popular white water rafting section of the Haw, though you will see some on the section north of the river as well.

Trails of Chatham County: Jordan Lake – New Hope Overlook

Location:  The Jordan Lake New Hope Park can be reached via US 1, exit 81 at Pea Ridge road (head west after you exit) or via US 64 on the east side of the lake, by heading south on Beaver Creek and then taking a right on to Pea Ridge.  Pass through the gate and take the 1st right towards the boat ramp.  The trail head is at the beginning of the parking area on the far left.

Distance: 3-6 miles  (two different loops, plus the out and backs to the primitive camp sites)

Difficulty: moderate to strenuous (there are a couple tough hills for this area, that make it seem a bit mountainous)


(The GPS tracker I am using tends to underestimate mileage on these kinds of trails, so the mileage on the map above is slightly off.)

Description: New Hope is my favorite hiking destination in Chatham County.  It can be quite mountainous and is often secluded — it is rare that I see more than 1 or 2 other people out there, and typically I see none.  (Though that can be said for many of the trails I plan on reviewing!)

About 100 meters from the trail head the trail splits.  If you stay left, you start off on a tough little hill before settling into some easier running.  After crossing a couple of gravel roads, you can take the out and back to primitive camp site B, or continue on.  If you stay right at the beginning, you reach an inlet where you sometimes can catch beavers playing — look closely and you will see their den.  Keep going and you will find a short 50 meter branch to a bench that overlooks the largest part of Jordan Lake.  You can see all the boaters here on nice days.

The two trails form a bit of a figure 8, so whichever way you go, there is an option near the middle to cut back to the trail head.

If you take the trail up to primitive camp site B you reach a parking lot.  From there you can get in another 1000 meters or so by running all the way down to the lastcamp site (where I have backpacked to before).  I don’t have that shown on the GPS track but will add it when I have the time to complete the entire trail.

Note: This area has an “unofficial” but maintained grassy/gravel road to the Jordan Lake dam area.  As you go up the gravel roads towards camp site B you can follow the grassy road towards the dam.  And from there it loops back out towards Pea Ridge Road.   I’ll include another map that shows that road, and while it doesn’t show an actual connection to the dam area, it would not be hard to trek it…  This may get a bit long for most people for a hike but I have ridden a mountain bike on it.


Just one, of the marque at the trail head showing the map:

Trails of Chatham County: Jordan Lake — Vista Point

Location: The Jordan Lake Vista Point trails are located in the Vista Point recreation area of Jordan Lake.  On US 64 on the West side of the lake, turn South on to North Peak Ridge Road and drive approximately 3 miles to the park entrance.

Distance: blue loop:  ~2.5 miles   red loop:  ~3 miles

Don’t go when: If the water levels are above 220 you will have to bushwhack some sections of both trails…

Difficulty: Easy


(The GPS tracker I am using tends to underestimate mileage on these kinds of trails, so the mileage on the map above is slightly off.)

Description: There are two loops, a red (~3 miles) and blue (~2.5 miles), which can easily be combined.  The terrain in this area of Jordan Lake is quite flat with less than 70 feet of elevation difference throughout the entire trail system.

If you park at the ranger’s office just outside the gate, you can start on the blue trail, which loops around to an old tobacco barn before heading towards the group camp area.  Just before the camp area is a large grass field.  It is best to hike around this if the grass has not been mowed recently — it can be thick and slow going, and the chiggers are bad in the spring and summer.  Just before the grass field the trail is a bit hard to follow as a few blazes are missing, but you can just keep the road on your left and the lake on your right and look towards the field.  At the group camp area you have exit the camp area gate and cross the road to hit the red trail.

The red trail is about 3 miles long and first runs out along a long peninsula with views of the wide open area of Jordan Lake, eventually loops near the RV camp sites, before hitting one of the shelters.  From the Shelter the trail either heads down to the beach, or you can cut through the parking lot, cross the road, head back towards the park entrance, and pick up the blue loop again at the group camp site.  It actually continues when you cross the road but this section is not really maintained and doesn’t really go anywhere except back to the group camp area.  I normally just take the road back to the came area instead.


(I’ll try to add more as I go out each time.)

The trail head for the blue trail at the ranger’s office.


The marquee at the trail head.