"Hikes" is probably too strong a word here, but "strolls" is too mild and "walks" doesn't capture it either. Woodsy amblings, maybe? Anyhow, on Sunday the fam went to Hillborough to walk around the historic Ayr Mount residence (built in 1815 and fully restored) on a path known as Poet's Walk. Visitors are encouraged to take a pencil and paper and compose a poem as they walk the grounds, though we couldn't convince our little poets to do so. Still, a beautiful walk that weaves in and out of the woods, across green meadows and along the Eno River. For a short time the walk also parallels the old Indian Trading Path.
As we were down by the Eno we were greeted by a man who had just crossed the river to the other side and was busy putting his socks and shoes back on. Turns out he was Bill, the caretaker of Ayr Mount, who has lived on the grounds for 22 years with his wife (who does the tours of the house). He noted that he was on his way to retrieve the tractor that he had left the previous day on the other side of the Eno at the other trail. We watched him scramble up the bank and disappear.
Turns out the other trail he was referring to was exactly where we were going, the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail. (It was only a short drive away, I knew, but I didn't realize that the two sites are just across the river from other until I used Google Maps.) From 1948-1968 it was a real one mile dirt track speedway featuring the likes of Richard Petty, but now the main part of the trail is a one mile dirt oval with amazingly gorgeous colorful trees all around. There are other paths to branch off to if you want a longer jaunt as well. We all loved the old concrete grandstand that still remains at the finish line.
And wouldn't you know it, we did run into Bill on the walk to the oval -- he had located the tractor and was driving it back to Ayr Mount. He gave us a big grin and wave as he passed.
Two great places to visit and only a short drive away -- we'll go back and explore more next time, only with a full picnic basket in hand.