Scenic Trails

The preservation of the land surrounding Ayr Mount historic house is also an important part of our mission. Ayr Mount was originally a 503-acre plantation, but today the house is surrounded by approximately 60 remaining acres of gardens, woodlands and pastures. These grounds, plus the trails opposite it across the Eno River, total to over 287 acres. We welcome you to enjoy the scenic beauty of this land at any time of the year with its gently rolling lawns, serene riverside lookouts, and interesting variety of mature trees, plants, and wildlife. There are three distinct trails that are privately maintained without governmental funding by Classical American Homes Preservation Trust.

The first trail, Poet’s Walk, is a one-mile trail loop around the Ayr Mount historic house, located at 376 St. Mary’s Road in Hillsborough, NC. It meanders through open spaces and woodlands and travels alongside the banks of the Eno River creating serene riverside lookouts. The path features views of the Old Indian Trading Path and the Kirkland family cemetery, and passes the site where Few’s Tavern once stood.

The other two trails associated with Ayr Mount are the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail and the Johnston Nature Preserve. Both are located at 320 Elizabeth Brady Rd, Hillsborough, NC, 27278, across the Eno River opposite from Ayr Mount historic house and Poet’s Walk. The trails here not only follow the former historic horse racetrack of Julian Carr and the later NASCAR Speedway, but also meander through different woodland and riverside paths.

A walk, run or stroll on these trails is perfect for history buffs, dog walkers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Go to Visit for more information about the hours of the house and grounds.


The Poet’s Walk
Historic Occoneechee Speedway and Johnston Natural Preserve
Mountains to Sea Trail

History & Timeline of the Trails

1985 – Richard H. Jenrette purchase of Ayr Mount
1993 – RHJ creation of CAHPT & Donation of Ayr Mount and Oxbow (75 acres)
1997 – Preservation North Carolina with the help of the James M. Johnston Trust, purchases 200 acres of France/Staley Land
1997 – CAHPT purchases France/Staley property after PNC conservation deed restrictions are added (Dec.)
1999 – Opening of Poet’s Walk at Ayr Mount (1-mile trail)
2002 – Opening of HOST, Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail, comprised of three miles of trails
2006 – Historic Speedway Group formed by volunteers to restore outbuildings and help maintain trails at HOST
2011 – Opening of James M. Johnston Nature Preserve and Trail (1 mile)
2012 – Dedication of Mountains-to-Sea Trail easement
2014 – Footbridge over the Eno River is slated to begin construction to connect HOST to Oxbow