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View Full Version : Neusiok Trail (Croatan NF, NC) February 2004



Bearpaw
2008-09-21, 17:08
This is an OLD report, but I offer it up in response to questions in a thread Marta opened on Whiteblaze. It is worth knowing about if you live in eastern North Carolina, and I know there are many folks here from NC.

The Neusiok trail runs 20 miles through the eastern portion of the the Croatan National Forest near the North Carolina coast. Hikers experience a mix of maritime estuary with pine forest and inland deciduous waterway.

I had hiked the trail a number of times while I was in the Marine Corps, but it has always been quite rough and poorly maintained. When I returned to the region i late 2003, I decided to backpack the area again and found MANY improvements from just 5 years ago, principally it seemed from the NT's inclusion in the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

I began my trip on a cool Saturday morning in February. I parked at the northern trailhead and loaded by mountain bike for a 16-mile commute to the southern trailhead.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro1.jpg

I transferred gear from my panniers to my pack, stowed/locked/camoflaged the bike, and prepared to step off north from the freshwater Newport River.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro2.jpg

I pushed quickly on up the trail. It crosses a paved road near the county landfill about a mile up the trail then gives way to semi-openmixed forests of pine and deciduous trees. It gives way a few miles later to FS Road 169.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro3.jpg

The trail is level throughout, and as long as it is not overgrown, it offers relatively effortless hiking. In places where is enters pocosins (swampland above sea level), it offers numerous bridges and boardwalks. This one offered a small stream about 9 1/2 miles into the northbound walk, the only natural source for a few miles.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro7.jpg

The water is a red-tinged affair from the pine acid runoff nearby, but tastes fine with a little filtering or other treatment.

Just north of here I stealth camped in my bivy.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro4.jpg

The next morning I arose fired up for another day.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro5.jpg

A half mile up the trail, I discovered a major new addition to the trail, a shelter 1/2 a mile south of US101, at the halfway mark of the trail.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro6.jpg

A southbounder could easily stage a water cache at the road and avoid treating the red-water from the stream a half-mile south and enjoy thge fire-pit, soft pine needle forest floor for tenting, or the many nearby trees for hanging a hammock. Or they could use the shelter .

North of Highway 101, the ground gets progressively more marshy and boardwalks become longer and more common.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro8.jpg

I continued northward and discovered another shelter, perhaps 4 miles from the northern trailhead, on a spur of Cahooq Creek. It offered a plank floor and shelfs for gear or lights and nice fire pit.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro9.jpg

As I continued on, I hit the final mile and change, which hikes alongside the slightly salty Neuse River. Two options exist: the higher route through the forest with overlooks down to the beach and the walk directly along the sandy beach itself.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro10.jpg

The walk was easy and mellow as I watched various craft out for a Sunday morning cruise. I shortly after reached the northern trailhead.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro11.jpg

I had enough fun that I told friends, and two months later on Easter Weekend, I took two never-before backpackers on the northern loop from the Northern trailhead to where the NT crosses highway 306 and back up to the northern trailhead. We stayed in the second shelter I'd found on the previous hike.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro12.jpg

The final hike along the Neuse River was a favorite, despite the cold water.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/Croatan%20NF%20Neusiok%20Trail%202004/cro13.jpg

For anyone in the Raleigh area east, the Neusiok Trail is worth the drive and the time.

MRH
2008-09-22, 00:42
Great Journal and pic's. The hike really improved your looks on that last picture... smile