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Neusiok Trail

posted Dec 18, 2012, 4:26 PM by Justin P
On Sunday, we headed to the coast for a hike along the Neusiok Trail in Croatan National Forest.  I met with the group at 7 and rode with Casey and Steve from Garner heading east along US-70.  We arrived at the Pinecliff Picnic Area just before 10 and shuttled some cars to the trailhead at NC-101.  Once everyone was back at Pinecliff we started our hike.  There was a dead ray on the beach that was very foul smelling, so instead of starting we down the beach, we followed the trail proper through the woods for a ways and then popped back out on the beach.  The first mile or so along the beach on the Neuse River is my favorite part of the trail.  The shoreline of the beach is receding as seen by the dead and uprooted trees and cypress knees along the shoreline, some actually in the water.  These ghostly-looking trees, some draped with Spanish moss, make for a beautiful and unique landscape.  It had been raining a little on the drive down, but mostly stopped while we were hiking.  But the weather was still very cloudy and a little foggy, which contributed even more to the spooky atmosphere among the trees.  We stopped and regrouped at the end of the beach where the trail heads up stairs to get back in the forest.  From here on, the trail mostly alternates between mixed forest of pine and hardwoods and swampy areas.  Although the swampy parts have boardwalks to traverse them, the wet wood was extremely slippery.  After falling and hurting my wrist the day before, I made sure to be extremely careful and slow moving over the boardwalks.  A few people did slip on these boardwalks, but luckily no one was hurt seriously.  Interestingly, leaves and pine needles that had fallen on the boardwalks provided the best traction to get across safely.  After a couple miles we stopped at Copperhead Landing shelter to eat lunch and rest for a bit.  Then, we continued on to the road crossing at NC-306 and regrouped before hiking the last couple miles of the trail.  This last section has a significant amount of boardwalk so the going was slow.  Two boardwalks in particular, "Cotton-Mouth Spa" and "Toad Wallow" must be close a quarter mile each.  But shortly after crossing these, we arrived at NC-101 and the cars we had left here to shuttle.  A few people were going to take the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach ferry from across the Neuse River, but the rest of us decided to head to dinner instead.  We had taken the ferry the year before (and it's still free), but on a cloudy day, we wouldn't be able to watch the sunset from the ferry.  And we were getting hungry too.  So we headed into New Bern and had dinner at Morgan's Tavern and Grill for dinner before heading back to the Triangle.