Lower Haw River Natural Area Trail

There’s hiking in the Piedmont and there’s hiking along the Haw River. But wait, isn’t the Haw in the Piedmont? Technically, yes. Look at a map and there it is, running from north of Greensboro east, then south, into Jordan Lake. But step inside the narrow corridor banking the Haw and you might think your map has deceived you. Piedmont? Try Amazon.

The banks of the Haw are festooned with all manner of greenery. Grasses and sedges of every stripe at your feet, a dense understory replete with every flora known to the region rising up to about 20 feet, a sheltering, mature, hardwood canopy above that guarantees shade on a hot summer’s day. Nowhere is the junglelike atmosphere of the Haw River more evident than along the 4.3-mile stretch between the U.S. 64 bridge just above Jordan Lake and Bynum.

Your wild ride begins under the U.S. 64 bridge as you head upstream along the river’s east bank. You’re immediately glad you’re wearing long pants because the inevitable and constant brushes with brush ensure tick contact.

The bottomland forest that dominates this hike is interrupted by a rock outcrop that butts up against the river less than a mile in, though your trip to the mountains is short-lived.
Continuing upstream the trail offers continuous views of the rocky Haw to your left. Pay attention to the trail, though, because especially in summer the encroaching flora can make the trail hard to follow in a spot or two.

There are two tributaries to cross, yet no bridges to cross them (while this is a North Carolina State Park property, it’s of the “Natural Area” variety and thus subject to minimal improvement). How much rain we’ve had of late determines how far upstream you need to travel for a dry crossing. Eventually, an old roadbed leads you into Bynum.
If time dictates a one-way trip, the shuttle via U.S. 15 to Bynum Road is a quick and easy one.

More info: Triangle Land Conservancy

Maps: There are no printed maps of the trail; to download a map from the Triangle Land Conservancy, go here .

Getting there from downtown Chapel Hill

Difficulty: Strenuous
Distance: 25 minutes from downtown Chapel Hill
Time to complete: 2-4 hours (one way)
Address: U.S. 64 at the Haw River (east bank)
City: Bynum
State: N.C.
Zip: 27228
Latitude: 35 43.928
Longitude: 79 06.239