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The Hike

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  • The Hike

    Remember that actual trail conditions change day to day

    Check the Forum for the most update trail conditions and to post trip reports.

    • Let someone know your hike route and when you plan to return
    • All mileage is approximate
    • There are no official names for the different trail sections. The names used here are ones I gave the different sections of the trail.
    • This is not a turn by turn guide of the hike.
    • Boardwalks and other improvements to the trail are made by volunteers as time and funding permit.
    • If you are a Boy Scout and looking for an Eagle Scout project, please contact the Carteret County Wildlife Club.
    • If you are hiking during hunting season, be sure to wear some blaze orange clothing while in the woods. I wear a blaze orange baseball cap and made blaze orange pack covers for my backpacks.
    • After it rains, you can expect the trail to be muddy and some sections of the trail will be very muddy along with standing water for long stretches. The section of trail located between Deep Creek Rd and Alligator Tram Rd is often flooded after a rain fall. Most of the water and mud will only be ankle deep but a few places can be up to two feet deep ( ask me how I know this )
    • The Neusiok Trail is also part of the MST ( North Carolina's Mountain to the Sea Trail ) so you are hiking two trails at the same time.

    Pine Cliff Section (Pine Cliff Recreation Area to Hwy 306) 6 miles

    This is the northern terminus of the trail and in my opinion the section with the best views and most hiked.
    • Look for the large sign indicating the start of the trail along the tree line (to the right of the shelter).
    • The trail starts off by going south into the woods then swings west along the shore of the Neuse River where it meanders along the woods back to the shore line and back to the woods before it finally turns south into the woods.
    • Depending of the time of day you can see the Cherry Branch/Minnesott Beach Ferry's crossing the river along with sail boats and power boats.
    • The original trail followed the sandy shores of the Neuse. You can still hike along the shore line. Just be on the lookout for the stairs leading to the top of the cliffs. Take the stairs and follow the short trail which will merge with the Neusiok Trail. If you turn left at the merge you will end up back at Pine Cliffs
    • The is the only section with some "hills" but nothing major.
    • Copperhead Landing Shelter is about 3.5 miles from the start of the trail at Pine Cliff and is a great place to take a break and or camp out.
    • If you are just hiking this section I recommend staging a car at the Pine Cliff or Hwy 306 end and then drive another car to your starting point. Other wise it is a long hike back to the car.
    • Watch out for horses and horse apples on the trail. There are several horse trails in the area and they overlap the Neusiok Trail in several places.
    • The Carteret County Wildlife Club is working to get the horse trails rerouted so they do not overlap the Neusiok.
    • If you do meet horses while hiking, please move to one side and let them pass.

    Toad Wallow Section (Hwy 306 to Hwy 101) 2.5 miles
    • I named it after the name "Toad Wallow" carved into a couple of the board walks along this section. Sounds better than "Cottonmouth Spa"; also carved in one of the board walks.
    • This section of trail is very flat
    • A small parking area is available off of Hwy 306.
    • There is a Trail Kiosk just to the Left of the Trail on the edge of the parking area
    • This section makes a good out and back hike. You can extend the distance by hiking to the Dogwood Shelter, take a break and then hike back.
    • Although this section of the trail is short at 2.5 miles; it can also be a very wet (depending on the rain) and has the most board walks (if I counted correctly, 12 as of Feb 2010) and the longest boardwalk at about .25 mile. It is a fairly dry hike thanks to all the boardwalks.
    • You will cross one wide firebreak and pick up the trail across the fire break to your right. Look for the board walk.
    • As you exit the woods, you will see the Hwy 101 parking lot across the road. Be careful crossing the highway.
    The Pines (Mill Creek Rd to Hwy 101) 10.5 miles
    • Longest section of trail
    • You will travel thru Pine Savannah, hard wood forest, bogs and along a dirt road.
    • 2 of the 3 shelters are along this section. Black Jack Lodge and Dogwood Camp
    • Recommend staging a vehicle at your destination and starting point. I stage one at the Toad Wallow Section on Hwy 306 and then drive to Oyster point to start the hike.

    Heading North from Mill Creek Rd....
    • The Black Jack Lodge is about .75 miles north from Mill Creek Road and located about 100 feet off of trail to the left. The shelter is visible from the trail. There is little to no fire wood available in the area. Please do not go around chopping down the live pine trees. Green pine makes poor fire wood.
    • After you leave Black Jack Lodge you will hike thru the woods that at times seems to be a long green tunnel.
    • You will come a dirt road...Alligator Tram Rd ( I have not seen any gators on the trail )
    • The next section will be the wettest, muddiest, overgrown section of the hike. While there is one board walk along this section, there are not enough so........
    • You will get wet
    • You will get muddy
    • It will last for a couple of miles.
    • Some of the bog/wet areas are about 2 feet deep in places.
    • Recommend wearing old tennis shoes or sport/water sandals for this section
    • While in other places along the trail you can walk around the boggy areas, along this section you can not as the side growth is often way too thick.
    • Spring 2011 UPDATE..the section of the trail from Mill Creek Rd north to the Alligator Tram Rd crossing has (about 2+ miles) has been "upgraded". Most ( but not all ) of the former wet/boggy patches have been filled in with crushed rock/marl.
    • There are a couple of stealth camp sites off the tail along this section just off the trail. They are not marked so you will have to look for them.
    • You will come to a dirt road ( Alligator Tram Rd ). Cross the road and pick up the trail again. This section of the trail has not been improved so expect te get muddy.
    • You will end up on a second dirt road, Deep Creek Rd.
    • Update March 2015...when you get to Deep Creek Rd...look across the road and you will see a boardwalk on the other side of the road. The Carteret County Wildlife Club is in the process of moving the trail off of Deep Creek Rd and back into the woods. This section of new trail is blazed and hikeable but is still in the process of being cleared. It is extermly wet and will give you a major work out. I know as I was involved in the scouting for this new section and I placed the blazes on this section which took about 3 trips. This new section of trail is D shaped as it goes into the woods, cruves around and ends back on Deep Creek Rd. Its about a 10 minute hike up Deep Creek Rd to where the new section returns to the road. If you decide to hike this new section allow about an hour. The Club plans to continue blazing more trail until this whole section is in the woods and off the dirt road. There are no boardwalks along this new section of trail and none are planed at this time
    • You have hiked a little more that half the section.
    • Turn Right and hike north along the dirt road for about 2 miles.
    • Be on the look out for White Tail deer along the road.
    • Look for the dirt road ( Billfinger Rd ) that goes off to the Left and follow this road. If you do not make the turn you will end up at Hwy 101
    • After a few hundred yards on the road the trail will turn Right off the dirt road back into the woods and you will see a sign saying 2.7 miles to Dogwood Camp.
    • You will travel thru Pine forest, hard wood forest, bog and cross several board walks.
    • Be on look out for a small pond along trail.
    • Dogwood Camp shelter is 0.75 miles south of Hwy 101 and is just about impossible to see from the trail. Look for the sign stating you are .75 miles from Hwy 101, turn around and take the side trail a few hundred feet to the shelter.
    • As of August 2015, there is a new hikers parking lot on the south side of Hwy 101.
    • Cross Hwy 101 and pick up the trail for the Toad Wallow Section

    Oyster Point (Oyster Point to Mill Creek Rd) 1.7 miles

    This is the southern terminus of the trail and shortest section.

    Heading north....
    • Note...There was major trail work done on this section in Fall of 2010 and there are several new boardwalks and most of the muddy areas were filled in with gravel and the brush cut back making this section a different hike from what it use to be.
    • Start the trail next to the Trail Kiosk and parking lot.
    • You will head east towards the water and then turn left around the big Oak tree towards the west as you weave in and out of the forest and along the salt marsh.
    • Take some time to enjoy the views of the salt marsh.
    • While there are some boggy/wet areas, they are not bad.
    • At one point you will end up on Oyster Point Rd. Turn Right and follow the road for a few hundred feet and the trail will duck back into the woods off to your right.
    • This section of the trail ends at Mill Creek Rd and you cross over to start the Pines Section of the trail.
    • If you look at the offical brochure, the picture with the board walk is from the Mill Creek Road start/end of the Oyster Creek Section of the trail. Time, weather and wear and tear has decayed some of the old signs on the boardwalk.
    Last edited by gunner76; 02-23-2017, 14:38.

  • #2
    Hello, my friend and I are considering a 3 to 4 day backpacking trip on the Mountains to Sea trail. We are beginning backpackers and are from Pennsylvania and unfamiliar with the area. We have free time this coming week (March 10 thru 16, 2018) and we wanted to get out in nature and enjoy Spring. I found that Croatan National forest looks very beautiful and in particular the Neusiok trail looks like something we can handle as beginners. I found the official guidebook of Section 17. Can you recommend a good starting point and route for a 3-4 backpacking trip?

    Thanks you and also this forum is awesome! Glad I discovered it today as there is so much information to read through. Thanks!


    • #3
      At 21+ miles most people do the trail in one or two days. You could make it a four day hike by spending the night at each of the 3 shelters.

      I always recommend hiking the trail starting at the north end ( Pine Cliffs Recreation Area ) and hike south to Oyster Point. That way you will get to muddy parts towards the end of the hike instead of the beginning. You will need two cars ( leaving one are the end point ) or get a shuttle.

      The Dutchman's Creek and Uwharrie Trails are another great place for a mulit day hike and as they form a figure 8 loop, you can start and end the hike at the same spot. To do the whole Uwharrie Trail would require two cars or getting a shuttle. Go to this post for maps of these trails.