Hiking Overview & Map
Shallow Ford features over 5 miles of natural surface hiking trails that are part of the Haw River Trail and North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Four loop trails wind through the park, passing a variety of interesting ecosystems and offering opportunities for short hikes less than a mile or longer hikes over 3 miles. If you’re hiking with kids be sure to check out the Kids in Parks Track Trails tab for fun family activities to enjoy on your hike.
For a detailed description of the Shallow Ford Trails please visit the Haw River Trail website (link will open a new window). All trails are marked with colored blazes. In case of emergency, locate the nearest trail blaze and report the number code to park or emergency response personnel.
Paddle the Haw
Shallow Ford Natural Area is part of the Haw River Paddle Trail. The Paddle Access at Shallow Ford offers take-out for paddlers coming downriver from Brooks Bridge and Altamahaw, or a nice put-in for paddlers heading further downriver to Indian Valley and points south. The Paddle Access is located near the parking area and boasts stairs and a boat ramp to assist in getting onto the water. Paddlers can also use the access to break for camping in Shallow Ford Natural Area. For more details on this part of the river, including local outfitters for kayak/canoe rentals, please visit the Haw River Trail website (link will open in a new window).
The Observation Deck and Wildflower Meadow were developed in 2015. They are located off the Basin Creek Trail (orange blazes), a moderately short walk in from the parking area.
The Wildflower Meadow is seeded with a mixture of annual, perennial, and biennial flowers, with new plantings each year. Enjoy strolling through the flowers or watching birds and insects attracted by the plants. The Observation Deck is a fenced wooden platform perfect for overlooking the meadow but you can also wander mown paths between the flower plantings for a closer look at what’s in bloom.
Camping at Shallow Ford
Primitive camping is available at Shallow Ford Natural Area. There is a $10 fee for Alamance County residents and non-residents for each group of 10 campers. Three campsites are available with a group size limit of 10 campers each. The department does require that a responsible adult be with each group.
The campsites are accessible by canoe/kayak from the Haw River or by a hike from the parking area. To reserve a campsite please visit our Facility Rentals page or call (336) 270-5124.
Kids in Parks Track Trail
The Track Trail Adventure Program is free and open to children of all ages. Come explore the park using program guides which include Birds of the Piedmont, Ferns, Hide n’ Seek and The Need for Trees. The Shallow Ford Natural Area Track Trail follows the Basin Creek Trail (marked with orange blazes). In addition to diverse wildlife and unique rock formations, this easy 0.75 mile loop features artifacts from the historic town of Shallow Ford dating back to the 1800s.
Click here for more information on the Track Trail program and to download activity guides (link will open a new window).
Picnics & Gatherings
Picnic tables, a gazebo, and restrooms are available near the entrance to the park. Enjoy a leisurely picnic near the river!