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Chatham County Historic Courthouse

Pittsboro is a town of 4,300 people (2018) near the Haw River in the Research Triangle in North Carolina. The county seat of Chatham County, Pittsboro has a big cat sanctuary as well as a historic district centered around the 19th-century courthouse.


Get in[edit]

Driving is your best bet. Route 15-501 goes straight through downtown Pittsboro, and U.S. Route 64 goes close. Pittsboro is about halfway between Chapel Hill and Sanford.

By bike[edit]

Biking is also possible—Pittsboro is about 20 miles (30 km) from Chapel Hill. The most direct route from Chapel Hill is taking 15-501, but that's just a highway. A more scenic route takes you through rolling hills, green pastures, and quiet forests: Take Smith Level Road south, turn right on Damascus Church Road, then left on Meacham Road, which turns into Polythress Road. When the road ends at a T intersection, turn left to stay on Polythress Road, and take the next right onto Manns Chapel Road. Go left on Hamlets Chapel Road, which will take you to 15-501. Cross the highway to head into Bynum, or turn left to follow the highway for the last few miles to Pittsboro. This route is hilly and there are no bike lanes for most of it (the cars are polite enough to give you a wide berth, though), but the pastoral scenery is lovely. If you're a strong biker it's just feasible to do Pittsboro as a day trip from Chapel Hill by bike.

Get around[edit]


Feeding a tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue
  • 1 Carolina Tiger Rescue, 1940 Hanks Chapel Rd, +1 919 542-4684, . A big cat sanctuary. Guided tours allow you to see tigers, lions, cougars and other big cats, all rescued from poor treatment and brought to the sanctuary. Carolina Tiger Rescue (Q5044904) on Wikidata Carolina Tiger Rescue on Wikipedia
  • 2 Chatham County Historic Courthouse, 9 Hillsboro St, +1 919 542-6222. W–F 11AM–4PM and the first Sunday of the month (March–December) noon–4PM. A historic courthouse in the middle of downtown Pittsboro, a cute little area with lots of historic buildings. It was built in 1881 and restored after a fire in 2010. It now houses the Chatham Historical Museum. Free. Chatham County Courthouse (Q5087641) on Wikidata Chatham County Courthouse on Wikipedia
  • 3 Bynum. A small, artsy town just outside Pittsboro next to the Haw River. Keep your eyes out for street art and wooden animal sculptures. Bynum (Q5004167) on Wikidata Bynum, North Carolina on Wikipedia
    • 4 Bynum Bridge. This used to be the main bridge before 15-501 was put in. Now it's a pedestrian bridge covered with lots of interesting graffiti. Nearby there are some walking paths and river beaches.


Haw River[edit]

View from the Lower Haw River Trail

Pittsboro is near the Haw River, and the Lower Haw River State Natural Area has swimming, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, birdwatching, and wildlife photography. You might see people fishing, but eating the fish isn't recommended due to pollution.

If you're interested in wildlife, look for animals like river otters, turtles, toads, and herons, and native plants like horsetail, arrowleaf ginger, mountain laurel, and wild azalea.

  • 1 Lower Haw River Trail. A 5-mile (8-km) hiking trail through the woods beside the Haw River, with lots of river beaches and other interesting little spots along it. The trailhead is in Bynum.
  • 2 Bynum Dam. There's a short hiking trail starting from the Bynum Dam parking lot. It's possible to go kayaking or swimming above the dam, though be careful not to go too close to it. If you swim to the right spot there's a rope swing on a river island. The trail and the river can be muddy after it rains, and watch out for poison ivy.


  • 1 Mays Pottery (on 15/501 north of the Haw River Bridge), +1 919-858-6264, . The last of several local pottery shops that used to be located around here. It's still run by the lady who opened it in 1984—she's friendly and chatty, and the pottery is beautiful. It's mostly porcelain, but she also has stonework, onyx, fossils, and soap.



  • Starrlight Mead, 130 Lorax Ln, +1 984-312-5820. W–F noon–6PM, Sa noon–6PM, Su 1PM–5PM. Tours available Saturday and Sunday. A meadery (winery that produces honey wines).



Looking out at the Haw River from Bynum Bridge

Go next[edit]

Routes through Pittsboro
DurhamChapel Hill  N  S  SanfordSouthern Pines
LexingtonAsheboro  W  E  ApexRaleigh

This city travel guide to Pittsboro is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.