Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Haw

Where it's not held back by dams built for its many textile mills, the Haw River is bold and lusty and noisy.  Its name is a drastically shortened version of the Eastern Sioux word for Piedmont - 'Saxapahaw'.

Haw River Trail's 'green tunnel' with trail marker

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail takes a tour of this wonderful resource.  Today there are only a few miles of off-road trail through Alamance County, centered on the historic mill town of Glencoe where all the old riverside buildings are being restored and re-purposed into shops and businesses:

This part of the trail shares riverside space with the Indian Valley Golf Course:

And there's a wonderful detour that takes the trail for a half-mile tour of Stoney Creek Reservoir:

Much more off-road trail is in the works.  In due course, the Shallow Ford Natural Area's trails are planned to be included.  Note the reference to the MST on their sign:

Hiking this bit of meandering dirt footpath was a welcome break from the day's road walks.  It all began as I passed hundreds of teen drivers and dozens of school buses headed to Eastern Alamance High School on a narrow road with no shoulder.  And and it ended as I passed hundreds of teen drivers and dozens of school buses headed out of Western Alamance High School on a narrow road with no shoulder.  I could hardly believe my 'luck' as I encountered that afternoon throng.  The morning had been nerve wracking enough.  But twice in one day?  And with eighteen miles on my tired legs?  Ah, well - such is the life of the long distance hiker.

But after the morning rush settled I was able to unclench my jaw and look around and take in some of the sights along the roads.  As you may already have gathered from past posts, I'm especially fond of old specimen trees, and today I passed a truly remarkable one - An ancient Norway Spruce, looking resplendent despite its obviously hard life.  The climate here has summers that are far too long and hot and dry for this native of far northern Europe, but this particular tree has defied the odds for what looks like 150 years or more.  Look at the massive trunk.  And can you spot the robin?

Can't find it? Okay, I'll help:

Also on today's route was the 1911 Woodlawn one-room schoolhouse, which is being restored.

And I always enjoy those nostalgic, long neglected, roadside businesses from a bygone era:

Finally, a few 'beauty shots' - late spring flowers on display:


Here's a map of the day's hike, with link to a couple dozen photos in a slide show:

MST Day 53 - Haw River Trail at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in North Carolina


  1. Hello PJ...nice blog. That spruce tree is I think 80 years old though I could be wrong.... The current resident there Rev. Irvin Iseley, yes the extra e is correct told me last year that his dad planted it . I grew right on the banks of the haw 3/4 mile below the confluence of stoney creek. Used to ride my bike to fish behind the Reverends house. I too also have a blog , google Macks river fishing blog . Keep up the good work. Mack

    1. Thanks, Mack, for the local knowledge. It's a great and distinctive part of the state and of the MST. Glad you're enjoying the blog. Cheers!