North Carolina State Parks Trails

To find trails in North Carolina state parks for activities such as hiking and biking, select a region or trail below.

Merchants Millpond State Park :: Sunbury, NC

The highlight of Merchants Millpond State Park is the 760-acre shallow millpond, which has large bald cypress and tupelo gum trees draped with Spanish moss. Beyond the main millpond, Lassiter Swamp is the home of old-growth cypress. The trails wind t

Green Swamp Preserve and Lake Waccamaw State Park :: Bolton, NC

The Green Swamp Preserve is of national significance in botanical circles. It lies within the highly restricted native range of the Venus flytrap and hosts the highest diversity of carnivorous plant genera in the world. Within the greater Green Swamp

Eno River State Park :: Durham, NC

The Eno River winds its way through Durham County, along a corridor of parklands forming a lush green barrier on the north side of the main populated areas of the city of Durham. Historic mills in varying levels of restoration dot the river. The En

William B. Umstead State Park :: Cary, NC

William B. Umstead State Park is administered by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation and consists of two sections, known as Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek. Together they total 5,381 acres. Most of the forested areas contain trees sixt

Mount Mitchell State Park :: Marion, NC

Mount Mitchell rises above the adjacent Blue Ridge Parkway to an elevation of 6,684 feet. Mount Mitchell State Park encompasses 1,469 acres of predominantly red spruce and Fraser fir forest. The modern-day flora and fauna are quite different from tho

Jones Gap State Park :: Marietta, NC

This state park and the adjacent Caesars Head State Park are operated as low-impact wilderness parks. This means that they are not designed like traditional parks with big drive-up campgrounds, parking lots, and heavy usage areas. Rather, the park f

Merchants Millpond State Park :: Sunbury, NC

Merchants Millpond State Park is simply one of North Carolina’s finest tent-camping destinations. This quiet getaway in the northeastern part of the state tends to be overlooked because it has neither the glamour of the ocean nor the lure of the moun

Lumber River State Park :: Evergreen, NC

As a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Lumber is officially special. The state of North Carolina recognizes the river’s beauty and added a serpentine state park along it, protecting wild stretches and developing other park units that al

Jones Lake State Park :: Elizabethtown, NC

Have you ever heard of bay lakes? These natural wonders stretch from Florida to New Jersey but are most prominent in the Carolinas. They are usually oval shaped, pointed on a northwest-to-southeast axis, and no deeper than 10 feet. Theories about t

Goose Creek State Park :: Washington, NC

This state park has a fine environmentaleducation center that offers first-rate displays and information about North Carolina’s wetlands, where the interplay between land, river, and ocean forms a rich ecosystem that is explained for all to understan

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park :: Seven Springs, NC

Often state parks are established to protect a natural resource unique to the state. Cliffs of the Neuse fits this mold. Hills are limited here on the coastal plain, and cliffs are rare. Interesting geologic events occurred to form the cliffs along t

Carolina Beach State Park :: Carolina Beach, NC

This area of the Carolinas certainly has some amazing natural attributes, but the most unusual of all may be the Venus flytrap. Perhaps you have heard of it. The modified leaves of this plant close rapidly when an insect touches tiny hairs on the lea

Pilot Mountain State Park :: Pinnacle, NC

North Carolina has many special mountains, but when it comes to memorable and distinct landmarks, Pilot Mountain takes the cake. On the edge of the Piedmont, the mountain—named for its status as a way marker for all who passed through the area—rises

Morrow Mountain State Park :: Albemarle, NC

The peaks of Morrow Mountain will surprise you. They aren’t the “big highs” of western North Carolina, but if you want a touch and feel of the mountains without having to make the trip west, come here. Relative to the terrain of the surrounding Piedm

Lake Norman State Park :: Hanging Rock, NC

With a name like Lake Norman, this state park is obviously a water-oriented destination. In that regard, it doesn’t disappoint. Nearly the entire preserve is situated on a peninsula jutting into this impoundment, located just north of the greater Cha

Hanging Rock State Park :: Hanging Rock, NC

I can understand why Hanging Rock is so popular. The natural setting is dramatic: the Sauratown Mountains rise from the Piedmont in barren rock faces, forming natural vista points for overlooking the surrounding countryside. Hiking trails explore not

South Mountains State Park :: Morganton, NC

During my roaming while writing this book, park rangers and others kept mentioning South Mountains State Park as an ideal candidate for inclusion here. By the time I got to the park, my expectations were as high as an Appalachian peak. And my trip he

New River State Park :: Glendale Springs, NC

North Carolina is blessed with many rivers, some of which are so exceptional as to receive wild and scenic designation. The New River is one of these. Located in the most northwesterly portion of the state, the New River courses through the mountains

Grandfather Mountain State Park and Attraction :: Blowing Rock, NC

Grandfather Mountain’s public image has evolved over the years. Once almost exclusively seen as a tourist attraction owned by noted North Carolinian Hugh Morton, Grandfather has become synonymous with its spectacular backcountry. The Mile-High Swingi

Chimney Rock State Park :: Asheville, NC

Like the bulk of Grandfather Mountain, Chimney Rock State Park is a once-privately owned commercial natural area that has become a state park. The park’s historic “tourist attraction” area is operated as a concession under state management, and a fee

Mount Mitchell State Park Campground :: Burnsville, NC

Bring warm clothes on your trip to Mount Mitchell. The rarefied air up there more resembles Canada than the South. The flora and fauna follow suit. Luckily, in 1915, then North Carolina Governor Locke Craig recognized the special character of this mo

Lake James State Park :: Lake James, NC

Lake James, fed by the fine waters of the Pisgah River, is one of the cleanest, clearest lakes in the Carolinas. It also has some of the best views, as the high mountains of the Pisgah National Forest burst skyward beyond the water to the northwest.

Stone Mountain State Park Campground :: Roaring Gap, NC

Perched on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Stone Mountain State Park is a 13,000-acre preserve of granite domes and hardwoods, where wild trout streams and hiking trails thread the land. Stone Mountain Campground, quiet and punctuated w

Mount Mitchell State Park :: Burnsville, NC

Bring warm clothes with you to Mount Mitchell. The rarefied air up here calls to mind Canada more than Dixie. The flora and fauna follow suit. Luckily, in 1915, then-North Carolina Governor Locke Craig recognized the special character of this mountai

Crowders Mountain State Park :: Kings Mountain, NC

As the closest, most dramatic mountain park to Charlotte, “Crowders” lives up to its name. Park attendance has skyrocketed in recent years. Rangers increasingly warn of parking delays on nice weekends—so you might want to have a backup destination or

Stone Mountain State Park :: Elkin, NC

Stone Mountain State Park is a more than 14,000-acre parcel that combines the park’s namesake summit below the Blue Ridge Parkway and a 370-acre satellite tract above the Parkway on Bullhead Mountain (a grandstand on the hawk migration). Spectacular

Hanging Rock State Park :: Danbury, NC

Easily accessible from Piedmont cities, Hanging Rock State Park is an eyeful for flatland-weary hikers. The small collection of summits clusters together, forming a high bowl around a pristine lake. The peaks of Hanging Rock, Moore’s Knob, and Cook’s

Morrow Mountain State Park :: Charlotte, NC

Morrow Mountain State Park is a wooded, hilly area where more than 30 miles of trails wander over and between modest mountains. That means these forested summits give a pretty good shot at solitude. The 4,742-acre park occupies the southern Uwharrie

Pilot Mountain State Park :: Pinnacle, NC

New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock may have the gall to claim the name, but Pilot Mountain is the definitive monadnock in this state or any other. Pilot is an outlier of the Sauratown Mountains that includes Hanging Rock State Park. Hikers can’t actual

William B. Umstead State Park :: Raleigh, NC

The park has 22 miles of hiking-only trails and 13 miles of “MUTs”—not dogs, but “multiuse trails” for horseback riding, mountain biking, and foot traffic (labeled “MUT” on the map). Three lakes allow fishing; rowboats and canoes are available in Big

South Mountains State Park :: Connellys Springs, NC

South Mountains State Park is in the largest and loftiest of the mountain ranges that lie east of the Blue Ridge. The range sprawls across 100,000 acres in three counties, with 18,000 acres in the park (just 7,500 acres in the Jacob Creek watershed i

Elk Knob State Park :: Todd, NC

Elk Knob is one of North Carolina’s newest state parks, saved from the prospect of second- home development by The Nature Conservancy and local residents. One of many high peaks north of Boone, Elk Knob is an amphibolite mountain, a unique geologica

Pettigrew State Park — Bee Tree Trail :: Creswell, NC

Lake Phelps is North Carolina’s second largest natural lake, covering 16,600 acres and 5 miles across at its egg-shaped center. Yet despite its size, it took nearly three hundred years before European settlers finally stumbled upon it. This fact

Carolina Beach State Park — Sugarloaf Dune Trail :: Carolina Beach, NC

Were the North Carolina Division of State Parks into hucksterism, they might promote Carolina Beach State Park as such: “See the man-eating plants! Climb a rare coastal mountain! Dare to go near the sinkhole ponds!” Fortunately, the state takes a mor

Umstead State Park — Sycamore Trail :: Morrisville, NC

The Sycamore Trail offers the park’s best glimpse into its past, in part because it’s Umstead’s longest trail. Umstead’s more recent past presents itself within the first few hundred yards. The blue-blazed trail descends immediately to Potts Branch,

Umstead State Park — Company Mill Trail :: Cary, NC

What is it that makes Company Mill so popular? I wondered as I headed down the trail on a cold winter day, the overcast gray sky hinting of a rare Piedmont snow. One attraction strikes you right off: Just a few hundred yards into the hike, you can ta

Eno River State Park — Buckquarter Creek and Holden Mill Trails :: Hillsborough, NC

In its 40-mile run from northern Orange County through Hillsborough into Durham County and finally, now, into Falls Lake, the Eno has a personality unlike other Piedmont rivers. With its bluffs of mountain laurel and rhododendron, its rocky outcrops,

Eno River State Park — Laurel Bluffs Trail :: Durham, NC

Laurel Bluffs is a 5-mile out-and-back trail that follows the Eno from the park’s Pump Station Access downstream to Guess Road. Judging from its name, you might think its distinguishing characteristic is its mountain laurel–covered bluffs. And they a

Crowders Mountain State Park — Pinnacle Trail Loop :: Kings Mountain, NC

The view atop Kings Pinnacle, like that atop Crowders Mountain, is largely to the north and east and takes in parks of the business variety, as well as interstates, factories, and other signs of man. But head left when you reach the top and you can

Crowders Mountain State Park — Crowders and Rocktop Trails :: Kings Mountain, NC

This is a classic “eat-your-broccoli-and-I-promise-you-something-really-good-for-dessert” kind of trail. And the broccoli is pretty darn tasty as well. At the top there is an aerie roost. A jumble of boulders tops a cliff face with views of the surro

Raven Rock State Park — Campbell Creek Loop Trail :: Mamers, NC

Raven Rock State Park is best known for its namesake rock face, a massive bluff that towers 150 feet above the Cape Fear River. You won’t be going there, though, because that’s where everyone who visits the park goes—it’s the Space Mountain of this m

Morrow Mountain State Park — Sugarloaf and Morrow Mountain Trails :: Sugarloaf Shores, NC

Here, you encounter Piedmont perfect among a relatively mature hardwood forest with little understory. There are good sightlines, though the rich canopy prohibits any vistas. You will, however, get a sense of just how high in elevation you are; look

Hanging Rock State Park — Moores Wall Loop Trail :: Danbury, NC

On an October weekend, when the western Piedmont is ablaze in color, fall-leaf peepers flock to Hanging Rock State Park for its aerial advantage. One of three surviving “peaks” from the ancient Sauratown Range—Pilot Mountain and Sauratown Mountain, w

Hanging Rock State Park — Hanging Rock Trail :: Danbury, NC

This is one of the easternmost points where you’ll find such a plethora of alpine entertainment: rhododendron, mountain laurel, galax, azaleas, and a variety of ferns, among others. The closer you get to the summit, the more montane this trail become

Medoc Mountain State Park Trail :: Hollister, NC

Medoc Mountain State Park is full of surprises; that it even exists may top the list. Located in the Piedmont’s rolling farmlands between Raleigh and Roanoke Rapids, a state park is about the last thing you expect to find. Yet there it is, a 2300 a

Jones Lake State Park Trail :: Elizabethtown, NC

Jones Lake is significantly more ecologically diverse than a longleaf preserve. A little over a mile into the hike, the trail circles the north end of the lake where it enters a more swamp-like forest. Various bays—sweet, loblolly, red— dominate. Y

Pilot Mountain State Park — Ledge Spring and Jomeokee Trails :: Pilot Mountain, NC

Jomeokee is the name used by the Saura Indians, who visited the aerie as a natural tower from which they could watch their neighbors. Jomeokee also served as a landmark along a well-worn trace that ran from Virginia to Georgia. Walk the 0.8-mile Jome

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park Trail :: Seven Springs, NC

Cliffs of the Neuse is small (890 acres), off-the-beaten path (the nearest road of consequence is US Route 70, 8 miles north), and only has four hiking trails, none of which is more than a half-mile. Yet the park can provide an afternoon of hiking en

Stone Mountain State Park — Stone Mountain Loop Trail :: Roaring Gap, NC

Whipping out a cell phone in the wild is normally considered bad form. But sometimes you just can’t resist. Summiting Stone Mountain on a late spring evening and watching the sun enjoy its last hour or so on the job is one such occasion. Located at

Stone Mountain State Park — Widows Creek Trail :: Roaring Gap, NC

The trail follows an old logging road that soon meets up with Widow’s Creek about a half-mile above the falls. (Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that if you simply follow the creek up from the falls you will find the trail; passage is nearly impo