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North Carolina Tourist Information Directory
NC Travel Guide
A directory of North Carolina tourist attractions and tourism sites

North Carolina State Parks Directory
North Carolina State Parks List
Explore the natural beauty of North Carolina State Parks
Find North Carolina State Park information, maps and images of the parks, including a list of summaries for all North Carolina State Parks with links to the each State Park homepage.

List of North Carolina State Parks
Many of the North Carolina State Parks offer camping, hiking, bridal trails, boating, and lodging facilities that include cabins. Please visit the links provided to North Carolina State Parks for complete and current information about specific activities and amenities available at each park.

Sunset on the river

Carolina Beach State Park is a 761-acre park located on a triangle of land known as Pleasure Island, which lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. The park offers access to some of North Carolina's best fishing spots and secluded camping facilities with both RV and primitive camping available. There are miles of hiking trails and activities include boating, fishing and a visitor center. Carolina Beach State Park is located 10 miles south of Wilmington, NC. Visit the unique Flytrap Trail, a half-mile loop, where Venus flytraps can be seen along the edges of the pocosins, and native orchids bloom. The visitor's center is conveniently located near the park's entrance, features an exhibit hall and is wheelchair accessible.

Carvers Creek State Park is a longleaf pine ecosystem and an important habitat for several endangered animal species and protected plants. First authorized by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2005, Carvers Creek State Park in Spring Lake, Cumberland County, North Carolina and is in the early stages of development. The park north of Fayetteville, provides no recreational public access at this time, and will likely encompass more than 4,000 acres. In 2010 The Nature Conservancy donated the 1,420-acre Long Valley Farm (part of the former Rockefeller estate) and future acquisitions should expand the park to the eastern edge of Ft. Bragg. The property includes Carvers Creek, which is a large wetland area on the southern end near McCloskey Road, and a large beaver pond. Sandhills pixie moss and the carnivorous pitcher plant grow in the wild. Along with longleaf and loblolly pine, magnolias, bald cypress, dogwoods and sweet gum dot the landscape. Bass, brim and pickerel have been caught in the pond, and white-tail deer, coyotes, bobcats and even a couple of red-cockaded woodpecker habitats have been seen on the surrounding property. Until interim park facilities are constructed, no recreational public access is provided.

Trail to observation deck at Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park is a new state park in the scenic Hickory Nut Gorge area of western Rutherford county and encompasses more than 4,000 acres some of the most rugged and picturesque areas in western North Carolina. The center piece of the attraction is the 315 foot natural rock tower that stretches high above the gorge's south side. Park facilities include a tunnel and elevator to the rock summit, nature center and a network of hiking trails to points of interest including the 404-foot-tall Hickory Nut Falls. The Gorge is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species, making it one of the most significant centers of biodiversity in the state. Since 1885, when a simple stairway was constructed to the pinnacle, this has become the must-see destination of the western North Carolina region and has astounded tourists of all ages. The Chimney Rock area of the state park is operated by a private contractor and is open throughout the year.

Cypress Knees

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park centers on the Neuse River. The forces of erosion have carved and chiseled a spectacular series of cliffs that rise 90 feet above the water along the river bank. Popular activities include boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and there is a museum. Cliffs of the Neuse State Park is located 11 miles southeast of Goldsboro, NC. As a gateway to the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean much of the areas history center on and around the river. The Tuscarora and Saponi Indian tribes once occupied much of the land, and the Neuse River also played a role in Civil War history as part of an effort by the Confederate navy to challenge Union control of North Carolina's coastal waters.

Bird's-eye view of Crowders Mountain State Park

Crowders Mountain State Park features miles of trails through a variety of terrain. Crowders Mountain, at an elevation of 1,625 feet is the second highest point in Gaston County and boasts of views that stretch for more than 25 miles. Land connects Crowders Mountain State Park to Kings Mountain National Military Park and Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina. Crowders Mountain State Park is located near Kings Mountain, NC. where during the American Revolution, the "over-mountain men" won a major victory for the colonists. With the help of volunteers, the park is building a 6-mile trail stretching to the South Carolina state line. The visitor center provides maps and information to visitors with an exhibit hall, picturesque fireplace, and auditorium.

The Atlantic white cedar is an evergreen found at Dismal Swamp State Park

Dismal Swamp State Park offers a 2000-foot boardwalk that brings you up close and personal with a wide variety of wildlife native to the lush swamp forest. Dismal Swamp Canal area is great for canoeing or kayaking and rentals are available. There are over 18 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails throughout the forest swamp. Dismal Swamp State Park is located 3 miles south of the NC/VA border near South Mills, NC. The Visitors Center opens 8 a.m. ? 4:30 p.m. weekdays, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and has a unique hydraulic arm bridge that spans the Dismal Swamp Canal that allows access to the Dismal Swamp State Park.

Elk Knob State Park was established to preserve the natural state of Elk Knob, the second highest peak in Watauga County. Elk Knob State Park is surrounded by several historic mountain communities. Northern hardwood forests grow at Elk Knob State Park and this state park provides a habitat for a number of woodland species. Elk Knob State Park is one of the newest state parks in North Carolina. Elk Knob State Park is on Meat Camp Road, 5.5 miles from North Carolina Highway 194, near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Eno River Association

Eno River State Park sits along the banks of the Eno River and is only minutes from Durham, Hillsborough, and Chapel Hill. The best canoeing and kayaking conditions are most common during the winter and spring and happen less frequently during the summer and fall but can occur any time during the year. Eno River has more than 24 miles of trail to take you into a natural wonderland and all trails arewell blazed and signed. Although Eno River State Park and its trails are public places, there are rules that visitors must be aware of. No bicycles or motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails. Points of Interest in Eno River State Park include Fish Dam Road, Occoneechee Speedway, West Point on the Eno and numerous nature trails with various information stations and spots good for fishing. Eno River State Park is a 3,900 acre park located near Durham NC.

Falls Lake State Park also known as Falls Lake State Recreation Area is located near Wake Forest, North Carolina. Falls Lake State Park covers over 30,000 acres, and includes the 12,000 acre Falls Lake. This park leads to endless recreational possibilities, there are miles of hiking, biking trails and miles of water to explore. There are local marinas, boat launches. Falls Lake State Park is very popular to swim, kayak & canoe. During holidays the lake is steaming with water skiers and jet skis.

Forbes Sea Star, Common Sea Star
Forbes Sea Star

Fort Fisher State Park also known as Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is located near Kure Beach, it includes the former location of Fort Fisher, site of a major naval engagement during the American Civil War. There is a museum at Fort Fisher State Historic Site, an oceanfront beach pavilion, a large lagoon popular with windsurfers, and a long stretch of beach that is accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles.

A rewarding days end, astounding sunset from the fort.

Fort Macon State Park is home to a civil war fort built in 1826 on the east end of Bogue Banks, near Atlantic Beach. Fort Macon State Park has nature trails, a swimming beach, picnic shelters and abundant fishing that makes Fort Macon State Park a very popular North Carolina State Park. The exhibits and displays will uncover the fort?s rich history and the restored living quarters gives you a first hand look into the lives of officers and soldiers at the fort. Take time to enjoy the Picnic facilities in the park that include outdoor grills, drinking water, picnic tables, shelters and restrooms.

Goose Creek boardwalk
Walk in the wild

Goose Creek State Park offers visitors a perfect eco-tourism view of the area with its boardwalks and nature trails that wind throughout the natural marshlands. Goose Creek State Park covers 1327 acres and is located east of Washington on the banks of the Pamlico River. The park is a very popular bird watching location and provides primitive camping, fishing, and swimming opportunities. Spend the day in the natural beauty of the Carolina bay and picnic in the shade of Oak trees decorated with Spanish moss. Goose Creek State Park also has one of the furthest northern populations of Dwarf Palmetto, which can be found along the river and within the marshes. A variety of nature programs such as star-gazing, insect and reptile identification, and birding are offered by park personnel.

Gorges State Park is a 7100 acre North Carolina state park that joins the North Carolina, South Carolina state line, located approximately 45 miles southwest of Asheville in Transylvania County. Gorges State Park boasts more waterfalls than any of the other state parks. Gorges State Park has beautiful waterfalls, there are trails to some of the waterfalls and Gorges State Park has one of the greatest concentrations of rare and unique species in the eastern United States. Activities at this state park includes hunting, fishing, hiking trails and picnicking.

Wild Western North Carolina
Grandfather Mountain State Park... a backpackers haven

Grandfather Mountain State Park has been a popular attraction since the 1950?s and in 2008, agreement was reached for the state parks system to acquire 2,456 acres along the crest of Grandfather Mountain to become North Carolina?s newest state park. Alongside the new state park but under the private management of Grandfather Mountain Inc. is the renowned Grandfather Mountain Attraction that includes the grand vistas from the ?mile-high swinging bridge,? the park?s nature center, and wildlife habitats. Camping is allowed in designated areas only with a permit at 13 backpack camping sites along the trail system including the Hi-Balsam Shelter. Campers must leave vehicles at either the Profile Trail or Blue Ridge Parkway trailheads; no vehicles can be left overnight in the Grandfather Mountain attraction. Grandfather Mountain State Park offers more than 12 miles of trails lacing 2,456 acres along the mountain's ridgeline and its highest point at Calloway Peak. Most of these trails are challenging; steep, rocky terrain can make progress slow at times. Hikers must use the trails' ladders and cables in some of the steeper sections. Even hiking to the ridge area and back from the low-elevation trailheads can take a full day. From the Blue Ridge Parkway area, there are two points of access. Most hikers use the Boone Fork Parking Area at mile 299.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The second is the Parkway's Asutsi Trail, which beings across from Serenity Farm on US 221 (the only winter access when the Parkway is closed). From either of these points, hikers can follow the Parkway's Tanawha Trail south to reach Grandfather's Nuwati or Daniel Boone Scout Trail trailheads. (Note: no camping is allowed on trails of the National Park Service on the Blue Ridge Parkway).

King of the Castle by dragonflysky on Flickr
King of the Castle

Hammocks Beach State Park found located on Bear Island and Huggins Island except for 33 acres on the mainland. Huggins Island, located just east of Bear Island is 115 acres of upland area surrounded by 96 acres of lowland marsh. Bear Island is an 892-acre barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and the Intracoastal Waterway to the north. The State Park office and ferry dock are located in Onslow County between Jacksonville and Morehead City. Hammocks Beach is one of the most unspoiled beaches on the Atlantic coast. This secluded wonderland is accessible only by passenger ferry or private boat and well worth the journey. The voyage takes about 15 minutes to venture the 2.5-mile shallow waters of Cow Channel. Explore and discover untold varieties of marine life in tidal pools and mudflats and take pleasure in leisurely walks across the sand dunes covered with sea oats. Enjoy a picnic on the isolated beaches watching as the sandpipers run from the tides, being taunted by the chortle of the seagulls. Fishing at Hammocks Beach is a favorite pastime in all seasons and flounder, trout, and blue fish are frequent catches on Bear Island.

Waterfall at Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock State Park is located in the Sauratown Mountain Range, (named for the Saura Native Americans who were early inhabitants of the region) in Stokes county. Being one of the most easterly mountain ranges North Carolina they are often called "the mountains away from the mountains". The park is only 30 miles north of Winston-Salem and features sheer cliffs and peaks of bare rock with views of the piedmont plateau that stretch for miles, quiet forests and cascading waterfalls. Activities include Boating, Cabins rentals, camping, picnic shelters, and swimming. Rock climbing is available in the park by permit. Cook's Wall and Moore's Wall, a series of cliffs up to 400 feet high and extending almost two miles, provide opportunities for seasoned climbers and novices alike. A hall in the visitor's center offers a variety of interactive exhibits. Learn about the natural and cultural history of the park from hands-on exhibits about plants and animals. The exhibit hall is open from 9 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. daily during the summer months and is also open daily during other seasons.

Wildflowers and butterflies
Haw River North Carolina Wildflowers and butterflies

Haw River State Park situated on nearly 300 acres of piedmont forest with lush vegetation, wetlands, rolling hills, pine and hardwood forest, wildflowers, and abundant animal life near the headwaters of the Haw River. Enjoy the expansive boardwalk that meanders through the wetlands and meets up with the Haw River. Numerous hiking and jogging trails are a complement to the 6-acre lake for boating and fishing. Haw River State Park provides a Summit Retreat and Conference Center with rustic cabins, cottages and a dinning hall. A Boardwalk takes you through the Haw River wetlands, giving you a close encounter with a unique North Carolina ecosystem. Two amphitheaters offer beautiful views overlooking the lake and memorable performances. Visitors are welcome to come to visit, but it is recommended that you call ahead: operating hours are Monday ? Friday 8am to 5pm and closed most state holidays.

Jockey's Ridge
Jockey's Ridge sea of sand

Jockey's Ridge State Park is found outside the town of Nags Head in Dare County on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Jockey?s Ridge State Park has a unique landscape can be almost surreal - the Roanoke Sound, at the western boundary of the park, is a rich habitat for a variety of plant and animal life. A desert environment complete with shifting sands, high winds, extreme temperatures and a lack of water make you wonder if you landed in the Sahara. A 384-foot boardwalk guides you to a spectacular view of Jockey's Ridge. The tree-lined walkway provides information panels along the way describing the various plants and animals found around the dunes. There's a designated site for sandboarding, which is allowed October 1 through March 31. Fly the same skies as the world's most famous pilots Orville and Wilbur Wright. Year-round winds, often blowing up to 10-15 miles per hour, make Jockey's Ridge ideal for kites, model planes and hang gliders. Visitors may take hang gliding lessons at the private hang-gliding concession located near the park visitor's center.

Jones and Salters lakes
Jones and Salters lakes

Jones Lake State Park adjacent to the Bladen Lakes State Forest and home of two natural lakes, Jones and Salters lakes, the 2,208-acre park is a nature lover's delight. The mysterious geology have long caused scientists to wonder about the origin of the Carolina bays. Many have proposed answers, including underground springs, wind and wave action, dissolution of subsurface minerals and meteor showers, but so far, no single explanation has gained universal acceptance.

Pine Warbler
Jones Lake State Park Pine Warblers
The area is a mecca for bird watchers who come to observe the many species found in the park. Carolina wrens and chickadees, as well as black vultures, are common while the bog is home to the yellow-throated warbler and white-eyed vireo. Endangered species like the red cockaded woodpecker, with exotics like the pileated woodpecker and red-tailed hawk also make their homes in the park. Jones Lake State Park is located in Bladen County, four miles north of Elizabethtown on Highway 242. Boating and fishing are popular pastimes at Jones Lake and canoes and paddleboats may be rented from Memorial Day through Labor Day at the boathouse adjacent to the pier. Wooded campsites are available and are equipped with a picnic table and grill. Drinking water and restrooms with showers are located nearby. A five-mile hiking trail loops around Jones Lake, offering an excellent chance to experience the habitats of a Carolina bay. Picnic grounds offer tables and grills or relax in the pine and cypress tree shaded grassy areas adjacent to the beach. Swimming and sunbathing at the sandy beach of Jones Lake is the ideal family day trip.

American Bald Eagle
The American Bald Eagle can be seen at Jordan Lake State Park

Jordan Lake State Park with almost 14,000 acres of water, Jordan Lake offers it all, fun in the sun or an evening under the stars. There are nine recreation areas on the lake operated by The NC Division of Parks and Recreation: Crosswinds Campground, Ebenezer Church, Parker's Creek, Poplar Point, Seaforth, Vista Point, Robeson Creek, New Hope Overlook, and White Oak Recreation Area. Each recreation area has boat-launching ramps providing easy entry to the water while 2 offer 24 hour access. If you love sailing you can test your on Jordan Lake. The most popular area for sailing is Vista Point while windsurfers enjoy Ebenezer Church. The Visitors Center has an exhibit hall with a series of interactive exhibits, images, and artifacts to guide the visitor through the natural history of the Haw and New Hope Rivers and the surrounding forests and fields. A favorite feature of the exhibit hall is the life size eagle's nest giving visitors the thrill of a bird's eye view of the interior of this massive nest. The exhibit hall is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is located in Chatham County, 21 miles southwest of Raleigh. But you won?t find the park listed park on any GPS system. Jordan Lake supports the largest concentration of bald eagles in the eastern United States, these majestic birds can often be spotted soaring over the lake in search of fish and other prey. The chances of observing an eagle are best during the early morning hours or late in the day. Vast, undisturbed areas provide the perfect home for the bald eagle; there's plenty of fish to eat and a mature forest for roosting. Fishing is a popular sport on the lake. Underwater stumps, logs and rocks help create the perfect environment for bass, crappie, catfish and pan fish and a state fishing license is required. RV and tent camping; have water and electric hookups. Each site includes a picnic table, grill and lantern holder. Showers, restrooms, trash containers and a dump station are conveniently located. There are numerous hiking trails at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. All are easy walking and suitable for all trekkers of all ages, although the New Hope Trail is more strenuous than others. Pets must be leashed at all times and bicycles are not permitted on any trails at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. Persons with disabilities will find access to a wide range of recreational facilities, including accessible picnic shelters, swim beaches, campsites, and courtesy docks. Most parking lots have special spaces available, and the restrooms are accessible as well. Accessible camping is available at Parker's Creek, Poplar Point, and Crosswinds campgrounds. Park Hours: May, June, July, August: 8am to 9pm, September, October, March, April: 8am to 8pm, November, December, January, February: 8am to 6pm.

Kerr Lake State Recreation Area
Kerr Lake State Recreation Area Named for: John H. Kerr

Kerr Lake State Park This 50,000-acre, man-made lake is a haven for water sports like sailing, fishing, water skiing and camping. The lake is situated in the northeast corner of the Piedmont region and lies in both Virginia and North Carolina. Park Office Hours 8 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily and Nutbush offers 24-hour access for campers. All other campgrounds are locked at closing time. County Line, Henderson Point, Hibernia and Nutbush have 24-hour boat ramp facilities. All other day use areas are closed and locked at park closing time. The forests found at Kerr Lake are typical of those found elsewhere in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Pine stands are dominated by loblolly pines. In hardwood forest areas, various oak and hickory species, tulip poplars, sweetgums, maples, American beech and dogwoods are commonly found. Canada geese and mallard ducks are frequently seen on the water and along the shore along with bird species are too numerous to list. The Roanoke River was the main transportation and supply route for both Native Americans and early settlers. Constant, regular flooding of the river provided rich and productive farmland that sustained the area for generations. Most campsites have a picnic table, fire ring or grill, and tent pad. Reservations are strongly advised. Any unreserved sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Relax and enjoy water sports at any of the seven recreation areas operated by the NC Division of Parks and Recreation along this expansive reservoir.

Lake James State Park with its 565 acres, is one of the most recent additions to the North Carolina State Parks system. Lake James State Park is located in Burke and McDowell counties, five miles northeast of Marion on NC 126, and its centerpiece is a 6,510-acre lake with more than 150 miles of shoreline tucked away in rolling hills at the base of Linville Gorge.

Lake James State Park
Lake James is tucked away in rolling hills at the base of Linville Gorge
Located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, between the towns of Marion and Morganton, Lake James is 1,200 feet above sea level. The park boasts of a wide array of water fowl including the Canada goose, green heron, belted kingfisher, and mallard all have the benefit of the park's large body of water. The steep terrain is dominated by mixed hardwoods, pines and hemlocks. Wildflowers commonly seen in the park include pink lady slipper, Jack-in-the-pulpit, passion flower, Indian pipe and cardinal flower. Mountain laurel, rhododendron and flame azalea are also abundant in the hilly environment. Wildlife abounds with deer, flying squirrel, red and gray fox, rabbit, muskrat and mink all find their home in this sanctuary. Lake James State Park offers a variety of ways to enjoy the outdoors including swimming, boating, nature trails for hiking and biking, picnic and camping facilities all with easy access.

Lake Norman State Park Located just south of Statesville in Iredell County, Lake Norman State Park boasts boat access as well as pedal boats, and public swimming. Lake Norman is the largest man-made lake in the state and covers 1,458 acres. The Itusi trail system (which incorporates the Hawk, Hicks Creek and Norwood Loops) totaling approximately 6.5 miles, in length opened in 2003 and the future expansion of the Laurel Loop (scheduled for completion in 2011) will add approximately 3.5 miles of trail to the park. Enjoy picnic areas, swimming, canoes, rowboats, paddle boats for rent. The park offers group camping facility (tents only), family tent/trailer area, fishing, hiking trails, boat launch access to Lake Norman. Educational programs presented by rangers are available with request made in advance.

Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown-headed Nuthatch

Lake Waccamaw State Park is one of hundreds of Carolina bays in North Carolina. The term "bay" for these natural basins originates from the fact that there is an abundance of sweet bay, loblolly bay and red bay trees growing beside these watery, oval depressions in the earth. Lake Waccamaw State Park is located in Columbus County, 38 miles west of Wilmington and 12 miles east of Whiteville.

cypress swamp
Lake Waccamaw State Park cypress swamp
The 15,722-acre Green Swamp Preserve features examples of pine savannas, bay forests and pocosins with hundreds of different plant species. Lake Waccamaw covers more than 9,000 acres and has 14 miles of shoreline and unlike many Carolina bays gets its water supply from the Friar Swamp drainage. Lake Waccamaw's water quality contributes to an interesting mix of animal life and an unusually diverse family of fresh water mollusks like the Waccamaw spike and Waccamaw fatmucket. Brown-headed nuthatches, parula warblers and white-eyed vireos populate the forest and numerous species of waterfowl can also be seen on the lake. The park is open November thru February from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. and in March, April, May and September, October from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. June thru August 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. and closed on Christmas Day Available activities include Boating, Camping, Education events, Fishing, Hiking, and Picnicking.

Lumber River State Park is a North Carolina state park along the Lumber River in Scotland, Hoke, Robeson and Columbus counties that covers 9234 acres along a 115-mile stretch of the Lumber River in North Carolina's Coastal Plain. The Lumber River State Park headquarters is located in Robeson County, 12 miles east of Fairmont off NC 130. The Lumber River has 24 boat launches and the entire length of the river is open to fishing. Wildflowers that can be seen at the park include wisteria, sarvis holly, Carolina bogmint, mountain laurel, wild azalea, spider lily and swamp mallow. The park offers a unique opportunity to enjoy a leisurely small boat or canoe trip on one of the country's few wild and scenic rivers and only black-water river with this designation in North Carolina. Primitive camping and group camping is available. Sites are equipped with table, grill, lantern holder, trash can and fire pit. All fires must be contained in the pit and permits for camping are required. Hikers will enjoy the park's nature trail system with its 1.5-mile loop meandering along the river's edge and through the wetlands habitat, and mixed pine and hardwoods forest. Princess Ann, the bluff on which the park's current headquarters are located, was chartered in 1796 and was also the first inland town established by settlers traveling up the Lumber River from South Carolina. In 1981, the Lumber River was established as a national canoe trail, and the lower Lumber River was designated as a state canoe trail in 1984.

Mayo River State Park is near Mayodan, North Carolina and covers 1967 acres along the Mayo River. The park is one of the newest in the North Carolina system and the parks interim facility, Mayo Mountain Access, opened to the public on April 1, 2010. Picturesque, scenic, tranquil, rugged, thrilling, awesome, the Mayo River has long been a draw for paddlers. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned paddler, your encounter with the Mayo River can be unforgettable. The river runs the gamut from a Sunday afternoon family float to a class III rapid thrill ride.

Medoc Mountain State Park wildlife
Medoc Mountain State Park Expert Bass Fisherman... (er bird)

Medoc Mountain State Park has nearly 4,000 acres and offers seven scenic hiking trails with more than 10 miles of hiking. Canoe rentals are available for a 1.5 to 2 hour paddle on Little Fishing Creek. Medoc Mountain State Park is located in Halifax County, 21 miles southwest of Roanoke Rapids, 23 miles north of Rocky Mount and 26 miles northeast of Louisburg. The wilderness character of Medoc Mountain is being restored through reforestation. Floodplain and lowland hardwood forest include sweet gum, river birch, ironwood and alder, as well as water, white and swamp chestnut oaks. Little Fishing Creek is considered to be one of the cleanest streams in the state with game fish, including redbreast sunfish, bluegill, warmouth, largemouth bass and chain pickerel make fishing a popular pastime. The creek flows through the park for about 2.5 miles and is perfect for beginning canoeists. A hardwood forest bordering open fields is home to the tent and trailer camping. Campsites offer tent pads, tables and grills and the camping area is served by a washhouse with hot showers and toilets with drinking water nearby.

Merchants Millpond State Park is one of North Carolina's extraordinary ecological communities, a unique blend of coastal pond and southern swamp forest. An amazing variety of plant and animal life offer an outstanding nature experience. Luxuriant Spanish moss drapes the Tupelo Gum trees, towering Bald Cypress with massive trunks litter the landscape, and Resurrection ferns dominate the 760 acre millpond. Merchants Millpond is located in northeastern North Carolina in Gates County near the community of Gatesville. Lassiter Swamp lies at its upper end as an ecological wonderland containing remnants of an ancient bald cypress swamp, and the eerie "enchanted forest" of tupelo gum whose trunks and branches have been distorted into fantastic shapes by mistletoe. Find sanctuary in by canoe or kayak and drift idly along the smooth, dark surface of the millpond. Savor the sights that come alive in the stillness of the forest. Views of the "enchanted forest" and Lassiter Swamp await those who travel the park on foot. Merchants Millpond State Park features ten miles of nature trails deep into the "enchanted forest".

State Park forest
Merchants Millpond State Park enchanted forest
Visitors may catch a glimpse of the rare and exotic with over 200 species of bird having been documented in the park. The outstanding surroundings of Merchants Millpond State creates the occasion to enjoy a picnic beside the millpond or choose from a variety of camping opportunities. There are camping experiences for large and small groups. Drive to the family campground in the midst of a pine/hardwood forest. A washhouse with drinking water, restrooms and showers serves the campground but water or electrical hookups are not available at individual sites. Paddle to the canoe camping sites by way of canoe trails and campers must carry in all supplies, including water. Backpack camping is reached by hiking a side trail off the Lassiter Trail to the primitive sites and all campers must pack all supplies, including water, to the sites. Largemouth bass, bluegill, chain pickerel and black crappie are abundant and make game fishing a favorite past-time. There are two primitive species of fish that inhabit the millpond; the long-nosed gar and the bowfin and have remained relatively unchanged for millions of years. Merchants Millpond State Park is an exciting and educational trip those that make the journey.

State Park Horseback riding
Bridle trail outing

Morrow Mountain State Park has more than 30 miles of hiking and equestrian trails open to the public. Morrow Mountain State Park covers 4,425 acres and is located in Stanly County, North Carolina about six miles east of Albemarle. Nestled in the Uwharrie Mountain Range, visitors can capture the panoramic view of Badin Lake to the north and Lake Tillery to the south from the upper parking lot. Take advantage of the Morrow Mountain's facilities that include family campgrounds, vacation cabins, a large swimming pool and bathhouse, picnic areas, and rental boats. Of special interest, a natural history museum, hiking,bike, and nature trails round out a visit to the outstanding recreational resource. Visitors to the park can enjoy the performance at the amphitheater, and visit a re-creation of the historical Kron House where Dr. Frances J. Kron lived in the early 1800's. The Pee Dee River is inviting for those who seek opportunities for fishing and canoeing. Overnight camping sites, cabins, a swimming pool, and large picnic shelters are other features that make Morrow Mountain a wonderful place to visit for the day or for an extended vacation.

Mount Jefferson State Park Located near Jefferson, North Carolina, it includes the peak of Mount Jefferson, named for Thomas Jefferson, who owned land nearby. Rising to more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding landscape, on a clear day, visitors can see across most of surrounding county to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west. The Mount Jefferson State Natural Area offers visitors a trail that loops around the summit of Mount Jefferson with magnificent views and the botanical paradise that qualified the area for designation as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. Local legend holds that during the Civil War the "caves" beneath Mount Jefferson's ledges served as hideouts for escaped slaves traveling to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is in Ashe County on the US 221 Bypass between the towns of Jefferson and West Jefferson, North Carolina. Special activity permits are granted for special event such as weddings and bicycle races. Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Catawba rhododendron, mountain laurel, flame azalea and dogwood thrive beneath the canopy of the oak/chestnut forest. Wildflowers abound and include trillium, pink lady slipper and false lily of the valley. Bird life in these high-altitude forests includes several species not seen at lower elevations like the Chestnut-sided warblers, Canada warblers and black-throated blue warblers, as well as rose-breasted grosbeaks, slate-colored juncos and white-breasted nuthatches that nest in the woodlands. If you?re lucky, you may be thrilled by a sighting of a red-tailed hawk, the most common hawk in the area.

Mitchell Mountain trail
Mount Mitchell trail

Mount Mitchell State Park with an environment more like that of Canada than the Southeast this area was preserved by the state in 1915 to protect the last stands of virgin timber on the mountain. Mount Mitchell State Park is the highest peak in the Black Mountains, named for the dark spruces and firs that drape the highest mountains and give them their black appearence.

Mitchell Mountain vista
Mount Mitchell State Park Panoramic view
Although not as long or wide as the nearby Blue Ridge or Great Smoky Mountains ranges, the Black Mountains are indeed the highest with over 20 peaks that surpass 6000'. Mount Mitchell at 6684' has opened a new observation deck atop the preface to replace the aging concrete and stone tower. You?ll find displays of the park's natural and human history at the visitor center. Discover some of the geology that went into building the mountain peaks, and view the plant and animal life that lives there. The mountain, park, and nearby waterfall are named for Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. While trying to settle a controversy as to whether a peak in the Great Smoky Mountains was higher than his beloved mountain, Professor Mitchell died after falling from the top of a 20 foot waterfall while descending the mountain. The highest campground in Western North Carolina at 6200' elevation, is located about 2/3 of the way from the Park Office to the summit. The campground offers level tent pads, with fire rings, lantern poles and picnic tables at each site. Water is available at several water stations around the campground and restrooms with flush toilets are available. Campers may leave vehicles in the park overnight to backpack into the Pisgah National Forest; visitors who leave their vehicles in the park must register on the forms provided at the trailheads near the parking area or at the park office. Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Mount Mitchell State Park. Choose between a short stroll or, a more extensive hike into the woods.
Creek side at Camp Alice
Creek side at Camp Alice
Either choice will be rewarding as the beauty of the park is best seen from one of its many trails. Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and carry proper gear as the high altitude makes the climate of Mount Mitchell chilly, even in summer. A shady picnic area, open year-round, is located at the north end of the summit parking lot providing stone grills and drinking water. Enjoy a relaxing meal in the restaurant located approximately a half mile from the park office. Open May through October, hungry hikers and tourists will enjoy the restaurant's food as well as its scenic views. Open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. until one hour before park closing May through October.

New River
New River State Park, dedicated as a National Scenic River in 1976 view

New River State Park covers more than 1,500 acres and provides canoeing, fishing, picnicking, hiking and camping. Dedicated as a National Wild and Scenic River in 1976, the designated scenic portion of the river is 26.5 miles in length. Although its name is some-what misleading, New River is thought to be one of the oldest rivers in North America, surrounded by rugged hillsides and peaceful farms and meadows, runs passive and tranquil with its fertile banks covered with wildflowers. New River State Park is located in the northwestern corner of the state in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Virginia state line. The New River's meandering course through the park has exposed rocks more than 1 billion years old, and formations of some of the oldest rocks in the Appalachians.

New River
New River State Park, National Scenic River (Photo at
Archeological investigations indicate the presence of humans in the New River area as early as 10,000 years ago. Shawnee, Creek, and Cherokee Indians used the New River and the surrounding areas for migration, trade, and hunting. Colonial settlers used the land for farming, mining, and timber. There are 3 access areas in New River State Park that provide canoe-in, walk-in, and primitive campgrounds. For the adventurous hiker in you, an easy, 1-mile, self-guiding nature trail at the Wagoner Road Access area features numerous stations with information about creek habitat, lichens, flowers, and trees. A new 1.5-mile hiking trail now connects with the nature trail through surrounding woodlands with a section paralleling the river.

Occoneechee State Park with its relatively undisturbed forest that includes one of the best chestnut oak stands in the region showcases a diverse natural community. One example of this unique environment is the presence of the brown elfin butterfly. Separated by more than 100 miles from other brown elfin populations in the mountains, the brown elfin butterfly is believed to have survived at Occoneechee Mountain since the Ice Age. Although the brown elfin is found virtually nowhere else in the Piedmont, the population on Occoneechee Mountain is quite large. The park spans 190 acres of land and nearly three miles of nature trails featuring a wide variety of the area's natural surroundings and wildlife. Commonly caught game fish include largemouth bass, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, and the feisty Roanoke bass. Picnic tables are available under shady oaks on the lawn near the parking lot.

Pettigrew State Park covers 17,800 acres around Lake Phelps, south of U.S. Route 64 near Roper and Creswell, North Carolina. Pettigrew State Park surrounds Lake Phelps and is a primary wintering location for several types of waterfowl, including Canada geese and Tundra swans. The lake, on a peninsula between Albemarle Sound and the Pamlico River, is one of a series of Carolina bay lakes (named for the bay trees frequently found in them). Ospreys build their nests in the tops of the tallest trees in the park and feed on the abundant fish of Lake Phelps. The population of Bald Eagles is increasing and they are occasionally seen over the park. Black Bear and White-tailed deer inhabit the woods, as do Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, American Mink, Muskrat, North American River Otter, Fox, and Bobcats. The campground has drive-to campsites with a picnic table and grill that accommodates tents, RV's and trailers. Reservations are strongly advised. Any unreserved sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pilot Mountain
Pilot Mountain

Pilot Mountain State Park is about 25 miles northwest of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Pilot Mountain, its signature landmark, is the westernmost peak in the Sauratown Range. The park is divided into two sections with 1,000 acres located on the Yadkin River. Pilot Mountain State Park has many fine hiking and bridle trails, and its cliffs are a favorite of local rock climbers. Camping, picnics, and beautiful vistas are a great addition to the many moderate hiking trails. Rising 1,400 feet above a rolling plain, Pilot Mountain, near Mount Airy, North Carolina, served as a landmark for both Native Americans and pioneer travelers. The mountain was known to the native Saura Indians as "Jomeokee," the "Great Guide" or "Pilot." Nowadays, it is a 3,703-acre, modern, fully-equipped State Park. Today, Pilot Mountain State Park is a popular destination for canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, and rock climbing. Horne Creek Farm is a State Historic Site borders the Yadkin River section of Pilot Mountain State Park where visitors can learn about rural life in the past and is open Saturdays and Sundays, April through October. Treat yourself to a horseback ride through the woods or challenge the river from raft, canoe, or kayak. Rock climbing and rappelling are favorite activities at Pilot Mountain for experienced climbers. Climbing is permitted only in designated areas and climbers must register with the park. The main park road is popular for rugged hill climbing by bicycle for experienced cyclists. The road averages a 10% grade for 2.5 miles and has sections of 16% grades, this challenge is not for the faint-of-heart. If fishing is your first love, Sunfish, crappie and catfish are just waiting, a state fishing license from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission is required. Equestrian trails meander through the six-mile woodland corridor that connects the two sections of the park. In the Pilot Mountain section located near the summit parking lot, picnic tables and grills are surrounded by a pine and hardwood forest. Drinking water and restrooms are located nearby.

Wall at Raven Rock State Park
Very impressive (very nice blog...

Raven Rock State Park offers several hiking trails ranging from 0.2 all the way up to 5 miles in length. One of the most popular trails is the Raven Rock Loop. This 2.6 mile trails splits in two directions, one to the Raven Rock, a 150-foot high rock formation along the Cape Fear River basin the other leads to the Overlook high above the river. Both offer stunning views of the piedmont. Raven Rock State Park is located in Harnett County, nine miles west of Lillington and 20 miles east of Sanford off US 421. Raven Rock State Park's bridle trails are located on the north side of the Cape Fear River. Undeveloped woodlands on the north side of the river offer seven miles of trails for horseback riding. Hiking trails in the park traverse a variety of terrains. Fish Traps and the mouth of Campbell Creek provide the best fishing for largemouth bass, warmouth, bluegill, catfish, redear and green sunfish. The rapids of Lanier Falls and the Fish Traps on a portion of the Cape Fear Canoe Trail offer and exciting excursion that runs through the park. Six campsites along the Cape Fear River Canoe Trail offer accommodations for canoeists. Hikers follow the Campbell Creek Loop Trail to backpack camping facilities but all supplies, including water, must be packed to the sites. For group camping, the Little Creek Loop Trail leads to the group wilderness camp along the Cape Fear River. At the peak of the spring migratory season, it is possible to see as many as 20 species of warblers in a single day. Along the river, Wood ducks can be found nesting in hollow trees. Park Visitor Center Hours are 8 am to 5 pm daily. The park is open varied hours throughout the year - January and February 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., March, April, May 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. In June, July, and August 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and in September and October 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and in November through December from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Singletary Lake State Park encompasses 649 acres of land and a 572-acre natural lake. Singletary Lake lies within the 35,975-acre Bladen Lakes State Forest as a unique portion of the Carolina bay ecosystem found nowhere else in the world. Of the estimated 500,000 bays to exist, most are small with few greater than 500 feet in length but Singletary Lake, is approximately 4,000 feet long. The red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species, resides at Singletary Lake along with wild turkey, wood duck, pileated woodpecker and red-tailed hawk. Hike through a forest of bay shrubs, cedar, cypress, gum and poplars on the Carolina Bay Loop Trail that begins near the lakeshore pier and takes you through the forest of longleaf pine and bay vegetation. The public may fish in the lake that has a population of yellow perch ready to provide a challenge for fishermen. Singletary Lake State Park has two organized group camps to provide a unique camping experience. At least 20 people must be in the group, and the group must also be part of a verifiable organization. Both camps are accessible for persons with disabilities and include a mess hall, campers' cabins and restrooms.

South Mountains State Park is located in an isolated, majestic and rugged mountain range, arising from the gently rolling Foothills and upper Piedmont region of western North Carolina. Nested deep in the woods, South Mountains State Park is the perfect place to enjoy nature. The park has more than 40 miles of trails with elevations up to 3,000 feet, and is one of the state's most rugged parks. A number of activities are available from trout fishing in miles of mountain streams to mountain biking along the 17-mile mountain-bike loop. South Mountains State Park seems to have something for everyone. There are 29 miles of equestrian trails and an equestrian camping area that consists of 15 campsites, a 33-stall barn, a washhouse with hot showers and flush toilets. Six areas are designated to primitive backpack camping. Primitive family camping is available a half mile east of the Jacob Fork parking area. There is a variety of marked hiking trails, including a .74-mile wheelchair-accessible loop that travels along the Jacob Fork River and through a forest. A two-mile trail to Chestnut Knob Overlook is strenuous but very popular. Two areas near the Jacob Fork parking area provide wonderful picnicking opportunities. Walk along the park's numerous streams and enjoy a variety of beautiful wildflowers, including Jack-in-the-pulpit, lady slipper and foam flowers. South Mountains State Park is an inviting journey into nature for the entire family.

Stone Mountain State Park
600-foot granite dome seen from the base

Stone Mountain State Park Seven miles southwest of Roaring Gap and 25 miles northeast of North Wilkesboro this 300 million year-old granite dome rises 600 feet above its base. Stone Mountain State Park?s centerpiece is one of the premier climbing destinations in the Southeast. The park is located in Wilkes and Alleghany counties of North Carolina, and it covers more than 14,100 acres. The park visitor center features the Mountain Culture Exhibit including mountain settler life, an old-time still, a loom, historcal artifacts, and natural history. The Hutchinson Homestead is complete with a log cabin, barn, blacksmith shop, corncrib, meat house and original furnishings. Family camping for tents and recreational vehicles are located on two loop roads. Each site has a tent pad, table and grill. Drinking water and a washhouse with hot showers and laundry tubs are located nearby. Backpack camping sites are located along Widow's Creek. The trailhead leading to the sites is located in the backcountry parking lot. Distance to the sites ranges from 1.5 to 3 miles from the trailhead. Stone Mountain State Park offers cascading waterfalls and cool mountain streams, quiet forests abundant with wildlife, scenic hiking trails and a historic mountain homestead. Satisfy your love for fishing in more than 17 miles of designated trout waters. Find rainbow and brown trout in the lower parts of the streams while brook trout inhabit the higher, cooler stretches of water. Garden, Widow's and Big Sandy creeks are Wild Trout Waters where only single hook artificial lures may be used. Bullhead and Rich Mountain creeks sections are strictly catch and release and open for fishing year round. Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1975, Stone Mountain State Park offers more than 16 miles of hiking trails. Registered climbing is permitted in designated areas on the cliffs of Stone Mountain and climbing is not recommended for beginners. The picnic area is located near the visitor center and offers 75 individual picnic sites and three large picnic shelters.

Weymouth Woods State Park is different from traditional parks being a limited-use area nature preserve. Located in south-central North Carolina and covering almost 900 acres, the preserve is open to the public and used for hiking, bird watching, horseback riding and is also an educational tool to many of the local schools. Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve is located on Fort Bragg Road, two miles east of Southern Pines in Moore County. Because it was covered with extensive open forests of longleaf pines, early settlers called this area the "pine barrens" but, the region is anything but barren. The Sandhills region is carpeted with more than 1,000 species of plant life. From February to November, the park blooms with a diversity of flowering plants, some being quite spectacular. Animal life is just as diverse; more than 160 species of birds make the preserve a birdwatcher's haven. Visitors are invited to explore the 1,000-square-foot museum and exhibit hall and experience the interactive, hands-on exhibits that cover topics from prescribed burning to geology, and the flora and fauna native to the park. Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve allows visitors to look deeper into the significance of the longleaf pine forest and see how human actions have affected the environment.

W. B. Umstead  State Park
Sycamore Creek Bridge on Graylyn Trail

W. B. Umstead State Park positioned between Raleigh and Durham in Wake County North Carolina, William B. Umstead State Park is a welcome respite from the hustle of city life. The park visitor?s center, just 10 miles northwest of Raleigh off US 70, provides a series of interactive exhibits, oral histories and images by the celebrated Depression-era photographer Carl Mydans guides visitors through the park's evolution. Another series of exhibits describes the natural history of the land including stories of weather, soil and wildlife habitats. The tent/trailer campground is open March 15 through December 15 with twenty-eight campsites, well-shaded by a hardwood forest, offer picnic tables and grills with drinking water and restrooms with showers are centrally located.. Hookups are not available. This 5,579-acre park is divided into two sections, the Crabtree Creek and the Reedy Creek and is easily accessible. Approximately 13 miles of bridle trails are available through some of the most scenic and secluded parts of the park. Bridle trailhead parking is available on Sycamore Road past Maple Hill Lodge. Visitors may choose between a short stroll along a nature trail or a more extensive hike into the woods. Twenty miles of hiking trails provide access to the beautiful diversity of the William B. Umstead State Park 's natural resources. No bikes or horses are allowed on hiking trails. William B. Umstead State Park is one of the few state parks offering trails for bicycling and the mountain-bike trails follow the same roads as the bridle trails. Canoe or rowboat rentals are available at the boathouse on Big Lake. Fishing is permitted in each of the three lakes and in the connecting streams. Common catches include bass, bluegill and crappie. A pine/hardwood forest forms a canopy for 40 picnic tables in the Crabtree Creek section and Reedy Creek offers 25 tables scattered under the trees. Drinking water, restrooms and parking are conveniently located nearby.

NC Travel Guide

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Explore the natural beauty of North Carolina State Parks
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