Goose Creek State Park lies on the banks of the Pamlico River about 30 miles east of Greenville. I was drawn to this park because a circuit hike of all the park’s trails would give me a solid afternoon of hiking 8-10 miles. Like most state parks in NC, the park was easy to find with Google Maps taking me right there and plenty of directional signs as I got closer. I parked at the main park office/ranger station just inside the park entrance. There is additional parking deeper inside the park for campers, swimmers, and people who want a different trail access point.
Since I do a lot of hiking alone, I make it a point to 1) let a friend or family member know where I’m going and when they can expect to hear from me when I’m done; and 2) “check in” at the ranger station if there is one. Many of the places I hike don’t have an official check in, but I feel like it’s a good habit to say “hi” so if something happens someone might remember seeing me. After getting seriously turned around on a hike earlier this year (do we have to call it “lost”?), it gives me a little peace of mind.
So after saying “hi” to the rangers and confirming this park doesn’t have a lot of un-blazed trails or logging roads to get turned around on, I headed off down the Palmetto Boardwalk. As the name implies, this trail is entirely an elevated boardwalk through marshland. I’ve loved cattails since I was a kid and there were plenty lining both sides of the trail. Wildlife finds included a pileated woodpecker and many turtles.
The trail terminates and you can choose to head down the Ivey Gut Trail or the Tar Kiln Trail. I turned right towards the Ivey Gut Trail. The Ivey Gut Trail is where I started to see deer galore. I saw more deer than people this day! The muddier sections of all the trails in the park were completely pock marked with deer hoof prints. I didn’t count, but I’d estimate seeing at least 30 deer.
|Can you see the deer?|
|Kayaker on Goose Creek|
|Peaceful spot for lunch overlooking Goose Creek|
|Erosion revealing this tree's root system|
After exiting the Flatty Creek Trail, I turned right to continue back on the Goose Creek Trail. The next couple of miles were a little boring, until a saw a group of wild turkeys (which I just learned is called a “rafter” of turkeys). Oh yeah, and a lot more deer… Goose Creek Trail eventually terminates near an access point for swimming in the Pamlico River. I skipped this turn off point and headed down the Live Oak Trail, a very short trail that takes you past a small cemetery dating to the 1880’s. Not much is known about the cemetery, but it is thought to be the resting place of victims of an infectious disease outbreak.
The Live Oak Trail takes you to the short Huckleberry trail, which takes you to the short Mallard Creek Trail. This aptly named trail terminates with overviews of Mallard Creek.
|Spanish moss on the Tar Kiln Trail|
Summary: I liked this park. Well-marked trails are always appreciated. I had read an online review that said the ticks here were ridiculous, but my tick check at the end of the day was clear. Final mileage for the day was 9.2 miles, which took me about 3.5 hours.