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Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

Cliffs of the Neuse is a 900-acre state park along the Neuse River in Wayne County south of Goldsboro.  The park's namesake cliffs extend for 600 feet and rise up to 90 feet above the river.  Formed when a fault in the earth's crust shifted millions of years ago and the Neuse River followed the fault line, slowly eroding the cliffs.  These cliffs have been a local landmark for centuries and in 1944, local landowner Lionel Weil worked with other landowners in the area to establish a park.  The state park was established in 1945.  Today the park has about 5 miles of hiking trails, an artificial lake with swimming and boat rentals, camping and picnic areas.

Contact Information:

240 Park Entrance Road
Seven Springs, NC 28578

Phone: 919-778-6234

GPS: 35.23540, -77.89320

Directions:

From Goldsboro, head south on US-117 for about 3 miles and turn left on Arrington Bridge Road.  Go about 6 miles, passing Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, and turn right on NC-111.  Drive 6 miles and the park entrance will be on the left.

Maps:

Trails:

350 Yard Trail:

Length: 0.2 miles
Blaze: White Circle
Difficulty: Easy

350 Yard Trail runs for about a quarter-mile along the rim of the cliffs.  The trail starts at the trailhead parking near the Scenic Overlook.  As the name implies, the trail runs about 350 yards south along the cliffs.  Towards the end, the trail heads steeply down to where Mill Creek and Still Creek flow into Neuse River.  The trail ends at a boardwalk across Mill Creek that is the trailhead for Bird Trail and Galax Trail.

Bird Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles
Blaze: Red Circle
Difficulty: Easy

Bird Trail is a half-mile loop trail that starts from the boardwalk at the end of 350 Yard Trail.  The trail leads along another segment of the cliffs then loops back around following Still Creek downstream back to the trailhead.  There are some scenic little cascades along the creek.

Galax Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles
Blaze: Blue Circle
Difficulty: Easy

Galax Trail is a half-mile loop trail that also starts from the boardwalk at the end of the 350 Yard Trail.  The trail passes a cypress swamp following Mill Creek upstream towards the lake.  It then loops around and joins up with Bird Trail to follow Still Creek downstream back to the trailhead.

Lake Trail:

Length: 1.9 miles
Blaze: Yellow Diamond
Difficulty: Moderate

Lake Trail is the longest trail in the park at nearly two miles.  The trail starts at the visitor center and runs around an area of pine forest.  As the trail approaches the lake, there are stepping stones to cross the spillway and around the lake to end at the lake parking area.

Longleaf Trail:

Length: 0.4 miles
Blaze: White Diamond
Difficulty: Easy

Longleaf Trail starts at the visitor center and runs through a pine forest to Sand Path, a gravel road leading to the group camping area.  These trails can be used to make a big loop hike around the park.

Spanish Moss Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles
Blaze: Orange Circle
Difficulty: Moderate

Spanish Moss trail is a half-mile loop that starts behind the restrooms at the cliffs overlook.  The trail heads down steps to a bridge and then splits to form a loop.  Left climbs up the steep cliffs above the river while right heads down into the flood plain.  A path leads out to the river from here.

Wildlife:

Trees:

Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) are common along the floodplains of the Neuse.  With the steep cliffs right up against the river, I thought it was an interesting contrast.

Mushrooms:

I found these orange mushrooms growing along Lake Trail.  Not sure what they are, maybe orange oysters (Phyllotopsis nidulans).

Blog Entries:

10-Feb-2018: Goldsboro Hikes

External Links:

NC State Parks website: https://www.ncparks.gov/cliffs-of-the-neuse-state-park