The Eno River Rock Quarry

14 03 2011




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While most of the trips listed on Tobacco Roads involve some sort of substantive drive, there are certainly a few nearby places worth mentioning.  One of these destinations is the Eno River Rock Quarry, a springtime staple of the more adventurous Duke student.  Located just off I-85, the quarry feels as if it is hours away from campus life, yet only requires a 15-minute drive.  Now that 80-degree days have returned, it’s finally time for the first afternoon trip of 2011.

The four-acre pond has a long history, created in the 1960s as rock was removed from the trail to aid in the construction of I-85.  Since then, the quarry has formed an entrenched and beloved part of the active lifestyles of Triangle residents.  I had actually never visited the quarry prior to my arrival at Duke, despite the fact that it lies so close to my home in Chapel Hill.  I had, however, been on many excursions to the Eno River State Park in general – the quarry lies along just one of the many trails within the park.

My lack of childhood visits was likely due to the controversial nature of the quarry compared to other portions of the park.  I understand that there have been drownings in years past, and in 2009 visitors were warned not to swim because of potentially dangerous blue-green algae blooming in the water (ironically, my first visit occurred in 2009 – and no, I didn’t get sick.)  Furthermore, the swimming hole is ringed by steep sides and offers virtually no areas of shallow water, making it somewhat treacherous for the leisurely visit.  Despite discouragement from park staff, most visitors to the quarry take a running leap from the cliffside, narrowly clearing the ground below and plunging into the water.

Contrary to the formidable description above, I personally find the quarry to be safe (given the necessary precautions), incredibly relaxing, and an essential destination for any Duke student.  While some locals talk of over-regulation that has ruined the quarry of years past, I have found visits to be relatively uninterrupted, still allowing for peaceful enjoyment of the natural surroundings.  Wait for a warm day and bring along a few friends, inflatable rafts, and some snacks – I wouldn’t recommend bringing alcohol, as miscalculating a leap into the water could end pretty horribly.  Keep in mind that there is a short hike to reach the quarry, so sneakers are your best choice of footwear.

One spring day at the quarry and you’ll remember why you chose Duke instead of… Cornell.


The wrap-up:

  • Distance from Duke: 15 minutes
  • Recommended trip duration: day trip
  • Recommended season: Spring/summer



One response

31 01 2012

Not only is alcohol not a good idea, it is expressly forbidden within the Eno River State Park, including the quarry area.

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