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North Carolina State Parks comprises more than 30 state parks (including some under development that are not open to the public), about 20 state natural areas (some of which are administered locally and are not listed here), and several state recreation areas, plus lakes and rivers for public use across the state. Many offer educational materials suitable for schoolchildren and correlated to North Carolina's competency-based curriculum, as well as events guided by park rangers. The Summit at Haw River State Park is a conference and training center, the first of its kind for the parks system.
Click on the map above for a larger version of it; we also have links to a map for each park with its listing below. The state has interactive maps of state parks in the state's four geographic regions. The Friends of State Parks has a Google mashup map of state parks.
In August 2007, the state authorized creation of the Deep River State Trail, which will stretch along the river corridor from its headwaters in Guilford County through Randolph, Chatham and Moore counties to the confluence of the Deep and Haw rivers in Lee County. The state's news release says the Deep River State Trail would likely begin as a canoe/paddle trail with a series of public access sites (the state has established paddle trails on the French Broad and New rivers).
Ultimately, the Deep River Trail could become the backbone of a regional land and water trails system with connections to Greensboro, Asheboro, the N.C. Zoological Park and Jordan Lake, and could eventually be extended down the Cape Fear River to Raven Rock State Park (below) and beyond.
Check here for current conditions, such as closures or changes in operations, at state parks, recreation areas and natural areas.
An Internet- and call center-based reservations system for state parks' campgrounds, picnic shelters, community centers, conference rooms and auditoriums is to go online April 22, 2009, for reservations for July 15 and afterward. The phone number is 877-7-CAMP-NC or 877-722-6762.
The state's site also offers a page for searching state parks by activity.
State parks are administered by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, 1615 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699. Phone (919) 733-4181.
Carolina Beach State Park
P.O. Box 475
Carolina Beach, NC 28428
Office: (910) 458-8206
Marina: (910) 458-7770
The park provides a marina for quick boating access to the Cape Fear River, Masonboro Inlet and Atlantic Ocean, as well as camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking and a visitors center. It is home to carnivorous butterworts, bladderworts and the Venus' flytrap, which is unique to this area.
Carvers Creek State Park
2200 Long Valley Road
Spring Lake, NC 28390-1645
Carvers Creek is not yet open to the public, but development and land acquisition proceed. The master plan calls for the park to eventually offer multi-use trails, camping, fishing, boating, bicycling, horseback riding, picnicking, wildlife observation, a visitors center and a renovated early 20th century research farm. The park encompasses more than 4,000 acres between northern Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. It includes the historic 1,420-acre Long Valley Farm, which was once the estate of James Stillman Rockefeller, and a 1,371-acre longleaf pine forest that is an important habitat for several endangered and protected plant and animal species, most notably the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Chimney Rock State Park
P.O. Box 220
Chimney Rock, NC 28720
The state is developing 5,700 acres in the Hickory Nut Gorge area around Chimney Rock Park, the private park acquired in 2005. The company that owned Chimney Rock continues to operate it on behalf of the state, and its iconic 315-foot spire, trails, a waterfall, cafe and other amenities are open year-round. The Rumbling Bald Climbing Access became available for climbing, bouldering and hiking in 2008.
Cliffs of the Neuse State Park
345-A Park Entrance Road
Seven Springs, NC 28578
The cliffs on the south bank of the Neuse River extend 600 yards and rise 90 feet above the water. The cliffs are not accessible, but the park offers camping, education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking, rowboat rentals and swimming in a man-made lake, and a visitors center dedicated in June 2011.
Crowders Mountain State Park
522 Park Office Lane
Kings Mountain, NC 28086
Crowders Mountain, the highest point in Gaston County (elev. 1,624 ft.), offers panoramic views that stretch more than 20 miles. Sheer vertical cliffs drop 150 feet. The park offers camping, canoe rentals, education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking and rock climbing.
Dismal Swamp State Park
Search Carolina Outdoors Guide by a park's name for additional information and our latest updates:
2294 U.S. 17 North
South Mills, NC 27976
The Great Dismal Swamp is one of the largest protected swamp wildernesses in the eastern United States, with 38,000 acres in North Carolina and 82,000 acres in Virginia. The state park, which officially opened in March 2008, has a visitors center, a system of boardwalks, decks and gazebos, 16.7 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, and bird watching and paddling opportunities. The Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor Center, at 2356 U.S. 17 North, has a free, 150-foot boat dock, restrooms, picnic tables and grills. The park is adjacent to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Elk Knob State Park
5450 Meat Camp Road
Todd, NC 28684
In 2007, the state natural area was re-authorized as a state park and now encompasses 2,891 acres including land on the adjoining Snake Mountain and on The Peak in neighboring Ashe County. Interim visitor facilities include a ranger contact station, three parking areas and picnic grounds. The park offers strenuous hiking on a 1.8-mile trail to the top of Elk Knob (elev. 5,520 feet, the second highest in Watauga County), which contains the headwaters of the North Fork of the New River and is part of a chain of amphibolite rock mountains in Watauga and Ashe counties. The Beech Creek Bog State Natural Area, the first example of a southern Appalachian bog in the parks system, is nearby.
Eno River State Park
6101 Cole Mill Road
Durham, NC 27705-9275
More than 2,600 acres of natural beauty in the narrow, steep-walled valley of the Eno River make up this park. The park has five access areas and offers camping, canoeing, education and events, fishing, hiking and picnicking. Click on the photo for more information.
Falls Lake State Recreation Area
13304 Creedmoor Road
Wake Forest, NC 27587
Lake Map (Corps of Engineers site)
The 12,000-acre lake and 26,000 acres of woodlands comprise seven recreation areas - Beaverdam, B.W. Wells, Highway 50, Holly Point, Rolling View, Sandling Beach and Shinleaf. The recreation area offers boating, camping, community building rental (at Rolling View), cycling - including the Beaverdam and New Light mountain bike trails - education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking and swimming.
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
P.O. Box 243
Kure Beach, NC 28449
At the southern tip of Pleasure Island lies miles of white sandy beach, salt marsh, tidal creek and mudflats. Adjacent to Fort Fisher State Historic Site, site of a decisive Civil War battle, the recreation area offers a swimming beach with a bathhouse, fishing, hiking, picnicking, off-road vehicle access, nature exhibits and events.
Fort Macon State Park
P.O. Box 127
Atlantic Beach, NC 28512
This five-sided, brick-and-stone fortress featuring 26 casements (vaulted rooms) dates to 1834 and is open for self-guided tours. The fort is surrounded by wide sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, Beaufort Inlet and Bogue Sound. In addition to touring the fort, visitors can enjoy a new coastal education and visitors center, special events, exhibits, fishing, hiking, picnicking and swimming. Click on the photo for more information.
Goose Creek State Park
2190 Camp Leach Road
Washington, NC 27889
This tranquil juncture of the broad, lazy Goose Creek and the Pamlico River is guarded by giant, old oaks draped with Spanish moss. The park offers boating, camping, education and events, exhibits and educational facilities, fishing, hiking, picnicking and swimming. Click on the photo for more information.
Gorges State Park
P.O. Box 100
Sapphire, NC 28774-0100
Sapphire Locator Map
Gorges has plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls, a portion of the Foothills Trail and one of the greatest concentrations of rare and unique species in the East. Development of the park is ongoing, but in August 2012 the Bearwallow Valley Trail, Upper Bearwallow Falls Trail, and the Picnic Area Connector Trail were opened for use along with two restrooms and the White Pines and Bearwallow picnic shelters. A one-mile trail to Rainbow Falls and the Horsepasture River on adjacent Nantahala National Forest land, including wheelchair-accessible overlooks, was completed earlier. Work on a visitor center continues as of August 2012, and a campground was also planned. In addition to hiking and picnicking, current uses include boating, primitive camping, fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking.
Grandfather Mountain State Park
2050 Blowing Rock Highway
Linville, NC 28646
The state closed the deal to acquire 2,456 acres along the crest of Grandfather Mountain, the private park's "backcountry," as state park land in June 2009. The park offers hiking on 12 miles of trails and backpack camping at 13 sites along the trail system and at the Hi-Balsam Shelter. The private Grandfather Mountain Inc. continues to operate the "mile-high swinging bridge," the park’s nature center, wildlife habitats and other amenities. Popular events, such as the Highland Games and the Singing on the Mountain will still be held at the attraction.
Hammocks Beach State Park
1572 Hammocks Beach Road
Swansboro, NC 28584
Bear Island, an 892-acre barrier island has one of the most unspoiled beaches on the Atlantic coast and is accessible only by passenger ferry or private boat. Huggins Island, located just east of Bear Island in the mouth of Bogue Inlet, is a 225-acre island with a maritime swamp forest that is, according to the Division of Parks and Recreation, "listed as a Globally Rare and Significant Area." The 17-acre Jones Island became a part of the park in October 2007 and is managed as a state natural area. The park offers boating, camping, education and events, fishing, picnicking and swimming. The office and ferry dock are on 33 acres on the mainland in Onslow County.
Hanging Rock State Park
1005 Visitor Center Drive
Danbury, NC 27016
Hanging Rock features sheer cliffs and peaks of bare rock, quiet forests, cascading waterfalls and views of the Piedmont plateau that stretch for miles. The park offers cabins, camping, canoe and rowboat rental, education and events, exhibit hall, fishing, hiking, picnicking, rock climbing, swimming and a wheelchair-accessible pier.
Haw River State Park
339 Conference Center Drive
Browns Summit, NC 27214
Located near the headwaters of the Haw River, Haw River State Park and the Summit Environmental Education Center are situated among piedmont forest, fields, wetlands and uplands on 1,374 acres in Guilford and Rockingham counties. The Summit is a retreat and conference center located on 210 acres in the park. The state continues to develop a 692-acre tract west of the conference center with traditional park amenities, such as hiking trails and picnic grounds. The Summit is used as a training center for the state parks system and other agencies, and is open to the public for school and civic groups, family reunions and others. The Summit Center can accommodate up to 180 overnight guests and 300 day-use visitors. The Haw River Program, an outdoor science school that specializes in overnight field trips for groups of all ages, also makes its home at this new park. The conference center includes eight meeting spaces, motel and dormitory-style sleeping facilities, indoor and outdoor common areas, a swimming pool, a six-acre lake, trails and a buffet-style dining room.
Jockey's Ridge State Park
P.O. Box 592
Nags Head, NC 27959
Jockey's Ridge is the tallest sand dune on the East Coast; tidal waters of Roanoke Sound, the park's western boundary, are a rich habitat for variety of plant and animal life. The park offers accessible facilities (including a ride to the top of dune via ATV), education and events, exhibit hall, hang gliding, hiking, picnicking, sailboarding and sandboarding. Click on the photo for more information.
Jones Lake State Park
113 Jones Lake Drive
Elizabethtown, NC 28337
Adjacent to the Bladen Lakes State Forest and home of two natural lakes, Jones and Salters lakes, the 2,208-acre park is a nature lover's delight. The lakes are part of one of the greatest geological mysteries of the eastern U.S. - the Carolina bays. The park offers boating, camping, canoe and paddleboat rental, education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking and swimming. A 6,273-square-foot visitor center, new bathhouse, renovated 206-foot pier and boathouse, and new sidewalks and parking area were dedicated in September 2005. Click on the photo for more information.
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
280 State Park Road
Apex, NC 27523
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area comprises nine recreation sites on a 46,768-acre reservoir: Crosswinds Campground, Ebenezer Church, Parker's Creek, Poplar Point, Seaforth, Vista Point, Robeson Creek, New Hope Overlook and White Oak Recreation Area. The park offers bald eagle watching, boating, camping, education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming. Many areas and activities are accessible to those with disabilities. The state dedicated an expanded and remodeled 9,949-square-foot visitor center in November 2008.
Kerr Lake State Recreation Area
6254 Satterwhite Point Road
Henderson, NC 27537
This 50,000-acre man-made lake has more than 800 miles of wooded shoreline. The eight recreation areas - Bullocksville, County Line, Henderson Point, Hibernia, Kimball Point, Nutbush Bridge, Satterwhite Point and J.C. Cooper Campground - offer boating (two commercial marinas), camping, community buildings, education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking and swimming. Many areas and activities are accessible to those with disabilities. Kerr Lake established a $5 parking fee for each of its day-use areas in April 2006.
Lake James State Park
P.O. Box 340
Nebo, NC 28761
The centerpiece of the park is a 6,510-acre lake with more than 150 miles of shoreline at the base of Linville Gorge. The park offers boating (state boat ramps 2 miles east of the park), camping, education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking and swimming. The first facilities being developed on 2,915 acres added to the park in 2005 opened in September 2010. The master plan calls for tent, RV and group camping, and multi-use trails for hiking and bicycling.
Lake Norman State Park
159 Inland Sea Lane
Troutman, NC 28166
The park consists of 13 miles of shore on Lake Norman, the state's largest man-made lake, plus its own 33-acre lake. Visitors enjoy boating, camping, canoe and pedal-boat rental, community building, education and events, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, picnicking and swimming. A 125-yard-long beach, 3,084-square-foot bathhouse and concessions building, a 50-foot pier plus parking and picnic shelters were dedicated in April 2005.
Lake Waccamaw State Park
1866 State Park Drive
Lake Waccamaw, NC 28450
One of the Carolina bays, Lake Waccamaw has species of animals found nowhere else on the planet, rare plants and endangered animals. The park offers boating (state boat ramps nearby), camping, education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking.
Lower Haw River State Natural Area
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
280 State Park Road
Apex, NC 27523
The 1,000-plus acres along both sides of the Haw River just north of Jordan Lake State Recreation Area (which administers the site) has steep slopes and rock outcrops, and has long been popular with hikers and canoeists. The area is not developed, but has parking on U.S. 15-501 South, trails and places to put in. The property runs from just south of the old Bynum bridge to just beyond the U.S. 64 bridge, where trail access is available.
Lumber River State Park
2819 Princess Ann Road
Orrum, NC 28369
The park contains 7,936 acres of land and 115 miles of state natural and scenic waters, 81 miles of which are also designated national wild and scenic waters. The park offers boating, camping, education and events, fishing, hiking and picnicking.
Mayo River State Park
P.O. Box 100
Mayodan, NC 27027
Mayodan Locator Map
Mayo River was designated in 2003, and construction of public facilities is to start in late 2007 or early 2008. Plans are for a visitor contact station, picnic shelter, rest rooms, maintenance facility and improvements to parking and the entrance road. The park has 1,967 acres.
Medoc Mountain State Park
1541 Medoc State Park Road
Hollister, NC 27844
Hiking trails cover diverse terrain through hardwood forest down to Little Fishing Creek and up Medoc Mountain (elev. 325 ft.) to the site of a 1920s Boy Scout camp. The park offers bridle trails, camping, canoeing, education and events, fishing, hiking and picnicking.
Merchants Millpond State Park
71 U.S. 158 East
Gatesville, NC 27938
Coastal pond and Southern swamp forest mingle to create one of North Carolina's rarest ecological communities - an "enchanted forest," with primitive species of fish, towering bald cypress trees with massive trunks and luxuriant growths of Spanish moss. The park offers camping, canoeing and canoe rentals, education and events, fishing (including small craft with trolling motors), hiking and picnicking. Many areas and activities are accessible to those with disabilities. Click on the photo for more information.
Morrow Mountain State Park
49104 Morrow Mountain Road
Albemarle, NC 28001
The steep, rugged Uwharrie Mountains form a stark contrast with the rolling countryside of the Piedmont plateau here on the waters of Lake Tillery and the Pee Dee River. The park offers boating, cabins, camping, education and events, exhibit hall and historic site, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking and a swimming pool. Click on the photo for more information.
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area
1481 Mt Jefferson State Park Road
West Jefferson, NC 28640
Fields, farms and forests spread out below Mount Jefferson (elev. 4,683 ft.) as the Blue Ridge Mountains form a striking backdrop. The park offers hiking, education and events and picnicking.
Mount Mitchell State Park
2388 N.C. 128
Burnsville, NC 28714
Mount Mitchell (elev. 6,684) is the highest point east of the Mississippi. Park visitors enjoy camping, education and events, exhibit hall, hiking, picnicking, a restaurant, visitor center and an interactive weather station. The state dedicated a new handicapped-accessible observation tower and the trail to it in May 2009.
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607-6494
The 164-acre Museum Park, while not technically a state park, is operated by the state art museum in partnership with the College of Natural Resources at N.C. State University. It features permanent and temporary sculpture amid woods, meadows, creeks and a pond. The park's main trail, which is paved, is part of the City of Raleigh's Capital Area Greenway Trail System. It leads to a landmark pedestrian bridge, North Carolina's longest, that crosses Raleigh's I440 beltline. (Paved trails are open to bicycles.) The museum offers guided park tours to school and community groups, and loans backpacks with educational games at no charge to families. The park's amphitheater is the best place in the Triangle to see live music. Click on the photo for more information.
New River State Park
P.O. Box 48
Jefferson, NC 28640
The New, a National Scenic River believed to be one of the oldest in North America, lies at the heart of 1,500 acres of parkland that includes three access areas. The park offers canoeing, camping, education and events, fishing, hiking, picnicking and a community building. Here's a map of the New River Paddle Trail.
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
500 Virginia Cates Road
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Various habitats in the 124 acres of land surrounding the highest point in Orange County (elev. 867 feet) support species that are rare and significant in the region. The natural area offers education and events, fishing and hiking.
Pettigrew State Park
2252 Lake Shore Road
Creswell, NC 27928
More than 1,200 acres of land and 16,600 acres of water on Lake Phelps blend nature, history and recreation. The park offers bird watching, boating, camping, education and events, fishing, hiking and picnicking. Native American dugout canoes found locally and on display are among the longest and oldest known. In December 2005, the state announced the addition of more than 2,500 acres along the Scuppernong River, including about four miles of river-front land, to Pettigrew. Its potential future use includes camping, canoeing, hiking, fishing, picnicking and wildlife viewing.
Pilot Mountain State Park
1792 Pilot Knob Park Road
Pinnacle, NC 27043
Pilot Mountain, a National Natural Landmark, rises as a solitary peak 1,400 feet above the rolling countryside of the upper Piedmont plateau. The park offers camping, canoeing, education and events, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, and rock climbing and rappelling.
Raven Rock State Park
3009 Raven Rock Road
Lillington, NC 27546
The stone bluffs of Raven Rock rise 150 feet and stretch for more than a mile along the Cape Fear River. The 4,667-acre park offers camping, canoeing, education and events, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking. The park's new bridle trails are north of the river, accessible from River Road (SR 1418) off of U.S. 401 north of Lillington. Click on the photo for more information.
Singletary Lake State Park
6707 N.C. 53 East
Kelly, NC 28448
A portion of the unique Carolina bay ecosystem, 572-acre Singletary Lake lies within Bladen Lakes State Forest and was developed primarily for non-profit-group camping. The park offers boating, group cabin camping, education and events, hiking and swimming.
South Mountains State Park
3001 South Mountains State Park Avenue
Connelly Springs, NC 28612
One of the state's most rugged state parks includes elevations of 3,000 feet, an 80-foot waterfall and 40 miles of trails. The park offers camping, equestrian camping, education and events, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking (strenuous 18-mile loop) and picnicking. Click on the photo for more information.
Stone Mountain State Park
3042 Frank Parkway
Roaring Gap, NC 28668
The 600-foot granite dome for which the park is named is among 13,747 acres that include more than 17 miles of designated trout waters and more than 16 miles of trails. The park offers camping, education and events, exhibits, fishing, hiking, historic sites, horseback riding, picnicking and rock climbing.
Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve
1024 Fort Bragg Road
Southern Pines, NC 28387
This 898-acre protected longleaf pine forest serves to preserve and portray the natural features unique to its region, including the rare and endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, the pine barrens tree frog and bog spicebush. The preserve offers education and events, an exhibit hall and hiking.
William B. Umstead State Park
8801 Glenwood Avenue
Trees, flowers, birds, lakes and streams form a natural community in 5,439-acres at the center of the Triangle. The park - a Depression-era works project designed to convert exhausted farmland for recreational use and originally known as Crabtree Creek Recreational Demonstration Area - offers camping, canoe and rowboat rentals, bicycling, education and events, exhibit hall, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, non-profit-group lodge and cabin rentals, mountain biking and picnicking. Enter Reedy Creek section off I-40 at Harrison Avenue.
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