Three Hours in the Triangle: Occoneechee Mountain and 411 West Italian Café

March 10, 2014

triangle land conservancy hike

10 a.m. Arrive at the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, 625 Virginia Cates Road, Durham. At 867 feet, it is one of the highest points in the Triangle, and features “oak forest, pond, field, heath bluff, and river habitats.” With three miles of trails found in the park’s 190 acres, there is certainly a lot to see!
From the parking area (which includes picnicking sites and restrooms), head out on the 2.2 mile Occoneechee Mt. Loop Trail, indicated by red circles. For an added view, take the Overlook Trail – only .15 miles.

The North Carolina Birding Trail heralds Occoneechee Mountain for its “[m]any interesting and even unusual birds… including wintering Common Raven and Brown Creeper.” The spring migrants and summer species are especially colorful, and include warblers, the Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, and Blue Grosbeaks.

If visitors enjoy fishing, Occoneechee Mountain also features two small ponds where anglers can catch bass and bream on worms as well as traditional tackle and flies. Check fishing regulations before planning to cast your line.

12:30 p.m. Drive twenty minutes for Saturday lunch or Sunday brunch at 411 West Italian Café, 411 W Franklin Street, Chapel Hill. 411 West is particularly cognizant of sustainable practices, and “use[s] compostable to go containers, bags, bar stirrers, etc. in an effort to protect the environment.”

Enjoy a delicious omelet with eggs sourced from Orange County’s Lattas Egg Ranch, such as the Polenta, made with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, hollandaise and shaved parmesan with a poached egg ($8.95), or the Omelet Luigi, a three egg omelet with fresh spinach, Roma tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses ($9.45). From the lunch menu, try their signature Wood Fired Pizza with shrimp, chorizo, salsa fresca, white cheddar, queso fresco, and chipotle aioli ($11.95).

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