It took a little work, but Captain Wifey finally gave in to my pleading. "I'm going to be 40 before we get a fun car!" I would say. She finally caved and here we are. Proud owners of a hot little red Italian 4x4. Even though it's a stock Jeep - no big tires, big lights, and bars on the front - it's a far cry from 20 years of affordable and efficient compact Japanese sedans. Full disclosure: I still have one of those sedans and some wager it will outlast this new SUV...where's the fun in that?
The new SUV is the perfect ride to tour nearby Croatan National Forest. We live right up next to the 160,000 acre forest and have ventured along its long, straight, and bumpy gravel roads a few times before. With the added suspension, driving through the forest was a piece of cake (take that sedan!). The roads are pretty well maintained, lots of ruts though. If you stay away from a few optional off-road paths, four wheel drive isn't necessary - just stay on the mapped roads and expect lots of gravel.
We ventured to two of the lakes located within the forest - Great Lake and Catfish Lake. These Carolina Bays will be great places to explore by kayak in the future (fun fact: there are alligators!). We took a few quick pictures but kept driving across the forest toward the Neuse River Recreation Area, a.k.a. Flanners Beach on the banks of the Neuse River.
As you can see, for this post we actually made two trips to Flanners Beach (one sunny and one cloudy). There's wooded trails for day hiking, a managed campground (fee required), and a great Pacific-Northwesty sandy beach on the Neuse River. Like most NC parks, day parking is free.
All and all, a great little trip. On our way back we stopped by the Croatan National Forest Headquarters along highway 70 a grabbed a few maps for our next Jeep safari! Check out the map links below to plan your next adventures in Croatan!
~Paul, Amber, Dad ETC
Link to Flanners Beach trails and campground
Link to Croatan National Forest map
If you're looking for a nice spring hike, look no further than Goose Creek State Park. It's located along the Pamlico Sound near Washington, North Carolina - or 'Little Washington' as the locals call it. The park has ample parking, a nice visitor's/education center, and 8 miles of trails through forest, over boardwalks, and out to the beach.
Near the park's small campground is a boat ramp and small wooden fishing pier. Paddlers who are overnight camping may use this to launch a kayak or canoe but non-campers should use the dedicated launch across Goose Creek. This launch on the other side of water is called Dinah's Landing, it's not really accessible from the parking here - you'd have to drive around (click here for a more detailed map).
So, head over to Goose Creek for a quick hike, a paddle, or to camp. We'll be heading to nearby Dinah's Landing to launch when that water gets just a bit warmer;)
~Paul & Amber ETC
Link to Goose Creek State Park
With fall quickly changing to winter it's nice to get outdoors while there's still daylight. This week on the blog we'll be highlighting a few easy and enjoyable Eastern North Carolina hikes (with water access in case you want to sneak the kayak along).
The first is the Cedar Point Tideland Trail, located in the Cedar Point Recreation Area, just off the highway near the mouth of the White Oak River. This hike is near Swansboro, the town of Cedar Point, and not too far from the bridge that takes you to Emerald Isle.
The parking lot for the trail and boat ramp includes numurous spots for cars, trucks, and trailers. Small-craft flat-bottomed motorized and non-motorized boats (canoes & kayaks) shove off from the boat ramp near the end of the lot. Fresh water and bathrooms are located nearby.
Two trails wind through coastal forest and on boardwalks over the salt marsh. The wetlands are host to a variety of plants and animals including deer, raccoons, and several bird species. Both trails are short - .6 & 1.3 miles.
The Cedar Point Tideland Trail is a quick hike near the water with big opportunities for paddling. The boat ramp here is a great launch point for exploring nearby Jones Island (ETC post coming soon) and gives you sheltered access to the Intracoastal Waterway. The Cedar Point campground, open all year, is a nice stopover on paddling trips coming down the White Oak River (also an ETC post coming soon!). Check out the quick links below for more information on the Cedar Point Tideland Trail and stay tuned to the blog this week for a few more Eastern North Carolina Coastal trails!
~Paul & Amber ETC
Cedar Point Recreation Area brochure
Other Boat ramps in Carteret County
Forest Service Site with more info
THE ETC Membership Card!
Discounts where you adventure!
We hope you've enjoyed the time you've spent on our site. All images, text and designs are copyright Everyone's Travel Club and may not be used without written permission from ETC.