dogs on leash
At the turn of the century visitors flocked to the area. They drank mineral water from local springs to cure their ills and they took riverboat excursions to the cliffs. Things have changed since then, however, the cliffs remain virtually unaltered, standing as a journal of the geological and biological history of the land. Look down this spectacular formation to the river far below, now protected within the boundaries of Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.
The Bird trail at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park is a short loop that starts from the Galax trail or the bottom of the 350 yard trail. The trail climbs to a hill that is not really a cliff but does go along the Neuse River for a short way. Didn't see any birds but the habitat definitely will attract them in warmer weather. Not a great trail, but add it to the others at the State Park to get a better workout. One thing about these trails, they are hard packed smooth sand with not many roots, and have several staircases. Great for trail running.
The Galax Trail at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park can be accessed via the Lake Parking area starting at the sign that says, "To Trails." The trail proper starts at either the spillway cross-over or the end of the 350 Yard Trail and also accesses the Bird Trail. I'm sure Galax grows along the trail but didn't see any as the forest floor was covered with leaves. The trail hikes through the woods connecting to other trails mainly, so not a whole lot to offer other than being a good connector. The park staff do a great job keeping the trails free of leaves and sticks, and the hard packed sandy trails are great for trail running. The lake spillway was interesting. The park is worth a visit and I suspect crowded in summer at the lake.
Big fish jumping, cool waters rolling, great canoeing and boating opportunities, the powerful Neuse during high water periods can swallow whole towns. I recently stopped by Cliffs of the Neuse State Park for an excellent taste of the Neuse - an interesting place near Goldsboro. I've biked along the Neuse over 20 miles on the Neuse River Trail in Raleigh, fished and boated near Tryon Palace at the mouth of the Trent River - great place for speckled trout, and fished near the mouth of the Neuse down near Cherry Point's jets, even spotted a Manatee right near the Hwy 17 bridge! Hats off to Chris and the Boy Scouts who canoed a pretty fair stretch of river. The Neuse has a lot to offer!
The easy, gravel 350 Yard Trail runs mostly along the cliffs and connects the Galax and Bird Trails to the Spanish Moss Trail at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. Highlighted is the view from the Cliffs Overlook, which is a short stroll from the Cliffs Overlook parking area. Combine all the trails in the Park and you'll hit about 5 miles total with a bit of elevation gain up and over the cliffs area. The view is worth a stop, very similar to the view of the Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park.
Probably the best trail in Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, the Spanish Moss trail starts from the expansive view at the Cliffs Overlook and descends to the Neuse River via some elaborate steps. Evidence of Hurricane Matthews' high waters left debris and sand bars at river level. You get a good view of the cliff colors from the bottom too. And the hike back up is steep but easy with the steps. The variety in this hike makes it worth the stop if you are near Goldsboro. Drive to the end of the road to the Cliffs Overlook and the trail starts off to the left. Some fish were jumping out of the very still Neuse when I visited. An interesting fact is that UNC sends field trips down to the river for water samples, monitoring algae and pollution levels.
The Lake trail at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park is a two mile loop starting at the large parking area near the small lake. The nicest feature of this trail is it's flat, covered with smooth hard packed sand and is great for trail running. As it is away from the cliffs, I suspect it is the least used trail other than maybe the Longleaf trail. Provides a nice remote walk for solitude. The trail takes you to the Visitor Center and then you return to the parking lot down the short road to the right of the VC.