Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area

Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area

Get hiking at Alamance County’s newest park!


If you’re a hiker in central North Carolina, then you’ve probably checked out Occoneechee State Natural Area or Eno River State Park. They’re well-publicized local gems—just try finding a parking spot on the weekend!–but you may be overlooking some wonderful, less populated local trails in Alamance County.

For several years, Alamance County Parks has been quietly expanding its trail system, which includes sections of the Haw River Trail and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and is now a contender as a hiking destination in the Piedmont.


Check out Alamance County’s newest park, Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area. This park is located at the southern end of Alamance County and offers the feeling of a remote mountain hike while only being 15 minutes from the city of Burlington.


Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area includes rolling hills and streams and is located in the Cane Creek Mountain Range.

Wait. Mountains in central North Carolina?

Sure! It’s not the Rockies, but the Cane Creek Mountain Range boasts North Carolina’s highest peak east of Greensboro—a whopping 987 feet!

The terrain here feels remote and offers some elevation change, which means it can satisfy both beginner and intermediate hikers.

Unique Plant and Animal Species

Because of its mountainous ecosystem, Cane Creek hosts several plant species that are much less common outside the park. Look out for Magnolia, Solomon’s seal, and Rattlesnake Master. Eight species of fern have also been identified.

Blueberries grow wild in the park, and are pollinated by the Southern Blueberry Bee, which are most active February through April.

Longleaf pines, most often seen in Eastern North Carolina, have been planted in this park. These pines thrive after prescribed burns and can live to be 500 years old.

Animal lovers can try to spot the Scarlet Tanager, Long-tailed Weasel, and Green Snake. 

Hiking Trails at Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area

Cane Creek offers three main trails with one more scheduled for late Spring 2023:

Heartleaf Loop: This loop trail is 1 mile long and bypasses the steep inclines to get to the mountaintop. Appropriate for beginning hikers.

Longleaf Loop: This 1-mile trail is packed gravel and is enjoyed by runners or hikers with strollers. The trail is named after the Longleaf Pine, which has been recently planted in this section of the park. Appropriate for beginning hikers.

Northern Approach Trail: This trail is 2.5 miles long and offers “views of creeks and streams throughout the trail, moderate to high inclines, and a spectacular view at the top of the mountain.” It’s one of the park’s more challenging trails due to elevation increase. Appropriate for intermediate hikers.

Pioneer Trail (Opening late Spring 2023): This trail is a 3.4-mile loop that winds “through lush forests and across several streams and is probably one of the most isolated trails in the county, almost totally out of sight of any development.” Appropriate for intermediate hikers.

To view a map of the park’s hiking trails, click here. 


As a newer park, Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area is still in development. Currently, it has a well-maintained gravel road for entrance to the park, a large gravel parking lot, a picnic area, and a pit toilet.

In the future, Cane Creek is planned to cover 1,000 acres and to include other features, such as an observation tower, camping facilities, and wildlife observation areas.

When to Visit

Cane Creek has some of the most accessible hours in the county. The park is open every day except Christmas Day (12/25). By season, its daily hours are as follows:

November – March: 8am-6pm
April: 8am-8pm
May – August: 8am-9pm
September – October: 8am-8pm


The park is located at 5075 Bass Mountain Rd, Snow Camp, NC 27349, about 10 minutes south of I-40.

The Upshot

Cane Creek Natural Area is a wonderful spot for a hike that feels remote while being a convenient drive from the city. The trails suit both beginner and intermediate hikers and the park is rarely crowded.

Get out there and explore some new trails. You’ll be glad you did.