Eno River State Park is just a mile away from home, which makes it a great every single trail run. It has similar stats to Umstead: about 35 miles and 3,500' climb. Most miles are on technical single track. There are multiple 10-mile gaps between potable water, and longer if still winterized.
One day in the not-so-distant future, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will link the entire park. But for now, there's a 3 mile road section. This can be avoided by going off trail and following the river for a couple of miles. The park allows off-trail exploration, but I'll leave that for someone else to try.
The water was still shut off at Cole Mill when I went on Sunday 3/20. So en route to start by 7 am, I stashed a couple of bottles under the bridge to make it a self-supported run. I started at Fews Ford to bang out less familiar trails before continuing onto home turf downstream along the MST.
This first day of spring was perfect for running: a high of 60 degrees, sunny and breezy. I watched the full moon set as I climbed Cox Mountain then settled into a comfortable rhythm over the roots and rocks along the Eno. Flowers were starting to pop and a brilliant new green carpeted the forest.
My least favorite part of the run was the road section, but after filling up on water at the visitor center I made quick work of it and settled back into cruise control along Laurel Bluffs. Check points seemed to pass quickly along the MST: Quarry, Cabe Lands, Dunnagan. Then I refilled at my stash.
Bobbits Hole was beautiful in the sunshine. I still felt good and thought I could break 5:30. I started to struggle a bit coming out of the Pump Station loop, but Guess Road was just around the bend. I finished in 5:23:30. I really enjoyed this route and am thankful to have this park as my backyard!