Croatan National Forest Trails
In 1970 the Carteret County Wildlife Club envisioned developing a hiking trail in the Croatan National Forest. The Wildlife Club and U.S. Forest Service have been working hand-in-hand for 50 years to get this trail established and maintained. Today the 22-mile Neusiok hiking trail runs from the Neuse River at Pine-Cliff south to the Newport river. Trailheads for the Neusiok are at Pine Cliff Recreation Area near Havelock and at Oyster Point near Mill Creek
After 50 years of building and maintenance, the club, with the help of the U.S. Forest Service, created a trail that has become one of the premier hiking trails in North Carolina. The trail is a part of the 1,000-mile Mountains-To-Sea Trail. The US Forest Service recognizes that hiking is the most sought-after activity in the Croatan Forest.
An interesting aspect of the trail is the rapid change of habitats along the 22 miles. Changing from an estuary, then fresh-water swamp, a hardwood forest, savannahs, evergreens and woodlands.
The footpath is marked with one-inch wide aluminum strips and white three-inch circles. For shorter hikes, access is available where the trail crosses Highway 306, Highway 101 and Mill Creek Road.
For hikers looking to camp, there are “three overnight shelters that allow you to campout without carrying a tent. The shelters are positioned to divide the trail in quarters and there is a source of water and a place to have a fire at each. You have the feeling of being in the wilderness if you stay in the shelter For those who want to primitive camp, there’s pretty much any spot just off the trail. There is also the US Forest Service Oyster Point Campground.
For trail information and current conditions or a ride back to your car, call Carteret County Wildlife Club representative Mr. Gene Huntsman at 252-447-4061. Suggest you call ahead of time as Gene is an avid outdoorsman and frequently out enjoying the outdoors.
Hikers in Western Carteret County might want to try the shorter (5.5 mile) segment of the beautiful Weetock Trail near Haywood Landing Boating Access Area off Highway 58 North of Cedar Point.
Neusiok Trailhead Directions:
To Pinecliff Recreation Area - From Highway 101, turn on Highway 306, Cherry Branch Road, and go 3.3 miles to Forest Service Road 132. Turn left on unpaved road and go 1.7 miles to reach the area.
To Oyster Point – In Newport, follow Chatham Street for 2.8 miles to Market Street and turn left. Follow Market Street to Mill Creek Road. Go 7.1 miles to Oyster Point road. Turn right.