We adventured back into Fort Macon State Park to try a little hiking on the new-ish Elliot Coues Nature Trail. It's my second time hiking the trail and I have to say, I think this is one of the best trails in Eastern North Carolina.
To get there, head over the bridge to Atlantic Beach from Morehead City. You'll arrive at Bogue Banks, an Eastern North Carolina barrier island with Atlantic Beach on this end and Emerald Isle on the other (20 miles down the road). Fort Macon State Park also sits on this end, we've explored there before, but since then they have added this trail.
The trail winds through seaside dunes, a maritime forest, and over a boardwalk through the salt marsh. It's a 3.2 mile loop, accessed from the Fort Macon Visitor's Center parking lot or the Fort Macon Swimming Beach down the road (there's parking there too). We like to start at the visitor's center and hike the beach section first, that way we can get some shade in the forest on the second half of the hike.
The trail is well marked and maintained and there's usually a decent amount of people hiking on any given day (especially the weekends).
We highly recommend this trail - there's really not that many trails in Eastern North Carolina, especially [partly] on the beach. It took us about 1 hour and 25 minutes to finish the entire 3.2 mile loop. Try it!
~Paul, Amber, Eleanor everyonestravelclub.com
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
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