It’s easy to rack up some unintentional miles at Goose Creek State Park.

From the Visitor Center, your initial plan is to simply hike down the Palmetto Boardwalk, which elevates you through a healthy black gum and cypress swamp. Nothing strenuous, lots to see. But at the end of the boardwalk you’re so intrigued by this lush coastal swamp forest community that you take a right onto the 2-mile Ivy Gut Trail, which will take you along Goose Creek. Since you want a peek at the Mighty Pamlico River you connect over to the 1.9-mile Goose Creek Trail. As you hike to the Goose Creek/Pamlico confluence you notice a sign for Flatty Creek Trail: it’s just a mile-long loop and it holds the promise of an elevated viewing platform from which you can get a better look at Goose Creek and the Pamlico, which at this point is still called a river but is taking on sound proportions.

You head back to the Visitor Center on Goose Creek Trail. Then you’re distracted by the short Live Oak Loop with its Spanish moss-drapped oaks and the Huckleberry Trail, another short loop. Mallard Creek sounds interesting, too, and it’s only a half mile sidetrip. Tar Kiln Trail, the park’s newest path, takes you back to the Visitor Center as well as back in time, to the longleaf pine logging industry of the late 1800s. Eventually, you make it back to the Palmetto Boardwalk and eventually the Visitor Center and your car.

You check your pedometer: 10-plus miles!? Guess there’s no such thing as a quick stroll down the boardwalk at Goose Creek.

More info: Goose Creek State Park

Maps: Downloadable here, also available at the park.

Getting there from downtown Greenville


Difficulty: easy
Distance: 40 minutes from downtown Greenville
Time to complete: 2 to 4 hours
Address: 2190 Camp Leach Road
City: Washington
State: N.C.
Zip: 27889
Latitude: 35.4818
Longitude: 76.9014