So the adventure starts with our seven hour drive down to North Carolina from Maryland. Upon arrival we ran into a bit of a problem. We had planned to camp for the weekend and the park doesn't take reservations for campsites in the forest so when we got to our first campsite option, Cedar Point, it was full. The campsite here was more of an RV park actually. So with two more campsites to choose from we headed over to the Neuse River campground only to find it was closed due to tornado damage.
After that failure, we headed over to the Fisher’s Landing Campground. The campground here didn't have much to offer, the toilet was a glorified outhouse and the only running water came from a water fountain with a spigot at the bottom. The campground was really more of a field with some tables and fire rings set up but since this isn't a camping review site I will just say that we were able to set up camp and had a place to eat and sleep.
NOW FOR THE HIKING!
Patsy Pond Nature Trail
The forest has several trails, which are maintained for hiking and so you don’t have to blaze your own trail. Our first morning out we started easy with the Patsy Pond Nature Trail. Really a simple hike around a lake and some nice looking pine forest for a backdrop made for an easy start. The blue and green trails were marked fairly well and the yellow trail was up until it dead-ended. Unsure if someone moved the signs (one of the yellow markers appeared to have been target practice for someone since it sported three bullet holes), or if we made a mistake following the trail we ended up heading back the way we came off trail (not that we recommend this sort of thing to the average hiker) and followed the rest of the short loop on the way out. Overall not a bad short trail to take between breakfast and lunch.
Cedar Point Trail
Island Creek Forest Walk
Our last morning in the Croatan was well spent hiking the first few miles of the Neusiok Trail. This twenty mile trail is part of the Mountains to Sea Trail and is more of a backpacking trail, camping is permitted anywhere along the trail. We only hiked for a few miles and found it quite enjoyable. The trail does divide for hikers and horseback riders so you aren't sharing the trail for some of the way which was kind of nice.
The trail is supposed to be blazed with white circles, but some of the blazes were made out of tin, some are circles and some are shaped into arrows but it was easy enough to follow with no risk of getting lost.
One major issue with this hike was that when we got close to water the yellow biting flies seemed to be out in decent enough numbers to keep us swatting and reapplying bug spray (which I usually hate to do unless it is to prevent chiggers!) but overall the bugs weren't so horrible to make for a bad experience. Our best advice would be to avoid hiking here in the heat of summer when the bugs are at their worst!
Overall the weekend was fantastic. It called for rain everyday and then ended up being sunny. We had one night of rain after we already turned in and a sprinkling here or there but otherwise perfect. Beware of the minimalist camping should you make it into a weekend adventure. There is wildlife everywhere so if you want to see what NC has to offer, this is a great place to look.
|View of the Neuse River|
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