Neusiok Trail

Probably the best long trail run along the coast, the Croatan’s Neusiok Trail has some mellow up-and-down on its western end, but for the most part meanders through coastal forest and swampy wetlands (through the latter the trail is elevated on long stretches of boardwalk).

A good way to sample the Neusiok, part of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail, is to run the northernmost 6.7-mile stretch. Starting from the northern trailhead at the Pine Cliff Recreation Area, the trail runs along the sandy southern shore of the 2.5-mile-wide Neuse River for a mile and a half before heading south into a pine savannah. Here, the trail has a surprising amount of roll (albeit gentle) as it dips into troughs, some heavily vegetated with, among other plants, the more montane galax and holly. It’s a diversely scenic stretch, even taking in a bit of amusing local history in the form of long-abandoned stills. When the trail crosses NC 306, take a left along the road, then another left on Forest Road 132; this 2-mile stretch will deliver you back to the trailhead.

A long run of the Neusiok is aided by three shelters along the way where you can pump well water. Cool weather is best for running the Neusiok; warmer weather tends to stir the local bug population as well as the Croatan’s venomous snakes, which include the cottonmouth and pigmy rattlesnake. Watch your step.

More info: Croatan National Forest, NeusiokTrail

Maps: Downloadable maps available here

Getting there from downtown Greenville
Difficulty: easy
Distance: 1 hour 30 minutes from downtown
Length: 20 miles overall, 8.7-mile loop described below
Time to complete: 1.25 to 2 hours
Address: 141 E. Fisher Ave.
City: New Bern
State: N.C.
Zip: 28560
Latitude: 34.5591
Longitude: 76.4928