Goose Creek State Park: A North Carolina Marshland Paradise

Goose Creek State Park, near the Pamlico Sound in eastern North Carolina, is full of outdoor recreational activities. Hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, boating, and swimming are all available at the 1,327 acre park, which was once a hiding place for pirates such as Blackbeard and his buddy Stede Bonnet. The park was created in 1974 after local citizens, seeking protection for the land and its wildlife, petitioned the state to purchase the land from a lumber company.

Background

The park land was once the home of several Indian tribes, and later became a haven for pirates. Beginning in the middle of the 18th century, the timber industry dominated the area. Much of Goose Creek State Park has been logged extensively in the past. Large tracts of very old Long Leaf Pine and Bald Cypress once stood where the park is now. Hikers can still see the remains of logging piers, docks, and rail lines in the park. Logging continued in the park area up until the state of North Carolina purchased the land. But, don’t think that the area is devoid of woodlands. There are still plenty of impressive oak, pine, gum, and cypress trees as well as other foliage in the park. The park is swampy and full of both saltwater and freshwater marshes. There is an abundance of wildlife including deer, foxes, racoons, muskrats, mink, otters, black bears, bobcats, and endangered red wolves. The park is also home to a wide variety of waterfowl, including bald eagles, ospreys, and many varieties of ducks. Furthermore, snakes inhabit the park, including the venomous water moccasin.

Hiking and Camping

Goose Creek State Park has numerous hiking trails for visitors to enjoy, and most are easy to traverse. The total length of the trails is about eight miles. Flatty Creek Trail winds through marshy areas and woodlands. It features an elevated observation deck with superb views of both the Pamlico River and Goose Greek. Palmetto Boardwalk Trail is handicap accessible. The boardwalk allows hikers to travel through a freshwater marsh. Tar Kiln Trail leads to some sites in the park that were formerly used by the logging industry. Huckleberry trail, as its name implies, is a connector trail through a large patch of huckleberry bushes. Mallard Creek Trail leads to a birdwatching overlook where visitors can see herons, blackbirds, and egrets. Live Oak Trail runs through a canopy of stately live oak trees covered with hanging Spanish moss. Ivey Gut Trail passes through woodlands and offers views of Goose Creek. Goose Creek Trail is the longest trail at about two miles and runs through cypress and black gum swamps from the camping area to the confluence of Goose Creek and the Pamlico River. There are two camp grounds and both of then are primitive. The camping area near Flatty Creek includes vehicle parking, fire pits, tables, and twelve tent sites. Toilets and running water are nearby. The second camping area is at the end of the park’s main road. It features vehicle parking, grills, and tables with running water and flush toilets nearby. The park also has two very nice picnic areas, one of which is sheltered. The picnic sites include tables and grills, and both areas are spacious and handicap accessible. Dinah’s Landing, where boats are launched into the water, also includes picnic facilities with grills and tables.

Swimming, Boating, Canoeing, and Fishing

There is one swim area with a beach in the park. It’s located along the shallow portion of the river, and it’s open from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Swimming is free, but there are no lifeguards on duty. Boaters and canoe paddlers will enjoy the overhead canopy formed by a variety of tall swamp trees, most of which are draped in Gothic looking Spanish moss. Goose Creek State Park can accommodate motor boats, sail boats, and canoes, and there are no fees for boating and canoeing. However, visitors must bring their own watercraft, as none are available for rent at the park. Fishing is also free, but anglers do need to have a valid fishing license.

Rules and Fees

Pets are allowed in Goose Creek State Park, but they must be on a leash and attended at all times. Alcohol isn’t allowed in the park, nor are guns, rifles, bows, arrows, or any other weapons. Fires are permitted only in designated areas, and fireworks are prohibited. Bikers under the age of 16 must wear a helmet. All state laws apply in the park. An indoor auditorium and an outdoor classroom are available for use at the visitor center. The auditorium can accommodate up to 90 people and is available at a charge of $103 for a half day and $178 for a full day. The outdoor classroom seats up to 40 people and costs $53 dollars for a half day and $78 for a full day. Camping costs vary, but run about $13 per day. At the picnic areas, 4 tables are $48 a day, and up to 8 tables are $73 a day.

Location, Hours, and Contact Information

Goose Greek State Park is located near the historic town of Bath, NC at 2190 Camp Leach Road, Washington, NC 27889.

The park office is open every day except Christmas Day from 8am until 5pm.

The park is open from
8am until 9pm during June, July, and August
8am until 6pm during November, December, January, and February
8am until 8pm March, April, May, September, and October

Office Telephone: (252)-923-2191
e-mail address: goose.creek@ncmail.net

http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/gocr/main.php