The 8 Best Hiking Trails on the Crystal Coast
Posted On Thursday, April 23, 2015
There is never a better time to be outside than during the spring in Emerald Isle! As we’re highlighting the great outdoor activities along the Crystal Coast, it’s hard to ignore all the great hiking trails in the area. Hiking is a great way to get outdoors, appreciate nature, and get some fun exercise. Here are 8 awesome trails right here along the Crystal Coast that are sure to have you and your family enjoying all the beauty of the spring season!
1. Weetock Trail
Weetock Trail is named after the original Algonquian name for the White Oak River. Starting off with a bit of a challenge, this trail spans about 11 miles. The Weetock Trail is a circular path that begins just off of Hwy 58. This trail passes along and through pine flatwoods, beaver ponds, creeks, and a cypress-gum swamp. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the trail including signs of bear, deer, and alligators near the swampy areas. Bird watchers will be able to find prime spots for spying some unique birds. If you are interested in different plant life, rare local orchids can be found along this path.
This amazing trail is not only fun and full of wildlife, but also provides a journey back in time as you pass by and through Native American settlement sites, a graveyard aging back to the plantation years, and near an archeological site.
Primitive camping sites are also along this trail located at the trail head at Headwood Landing. This is definitely a trail that you won’t want to miss! If you want some more information or directions you can look up more on this website.
2. Cedar Point Tideland Trail
Two shorter trails are located at the Cedar Point Recreation Center (both named Tideland Trail). One is only about a half mile, and the other is a mile and a half. This may be a fun, easy trail for those with younger children to enjoy. Clearly marked gravel paths are available through the salt marshes of Cedar Point.
The trail passes through this place where fresh and salty water mix to create a unique ecosystem and nursery for fish, shrimp, and crabs. Boardwalks are located along the trail so that you can explore all the different areas of the marsh (without getting wet!). Other wildlife include deer, osprey, egrets, and other interesting birds, fish, and mammals. This is also a great place for kayaking! You can find more information on the Cedar Point Tideland Trail on this website.
3. Patsy Pond Trail
This is another easier hike which consists of three clearly marked trails of varying length. As part of the Croatan National Forest, Patsy Pond Trail circles through the Longleaf Pine Flat Woods: a forest of pine trees with only low lying shrubs and herbs on the forest floor.
Beautiful plants, majestic trees, and even natural sink holes (off the path of course!), along with some amazing wildlife make this trail a great one for the whole family! Find out more information and directions to Patsy Pond Trail on this website.
4. Emerald Isle Woods Trail
Since you will already be staying in Emerald Isle at your vacation rental, why not stop by the Emerald Isle Woods Trail for a fun afternoon outdoors? This trail is located at Emerald Isle Woods Park: a 41-acre park that includes a floating dock, picnic pavilion, pier, and of course the trail! This is another ideal spot for bird watching and for a beautiful view of Bogue Sound.
The trail is only about a mile long and with plenty of open space, birds to watch for, and great views, this is the perfect trail for a family outing. You can check out the Emerald Isle website for more information.
5. Hoffman and Roosevelt Trails
Both of these great trails can be found at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The Roosevelt Trail, a little longer and more advanced, is located just outside the Aquarium. Aquarium fees are not required to hike along this trail. The Hoffman Trail is located just behind the Aquarium.
Extending for about a mile, the Roosevelt Nature Trail goes along a high dune ridge with views of the sound marshes and maritime forests. The Hoffman Trail is just around a half-mile and leads to a great view of East Pond. Telescopes, nature-viewing outposts, and a floating pontoon bridge make this trail a really fun one for the adventurous little ones.
These are both excellent trails that are fun for the whole family while allowing you to see some great and varied wildlife including egrets, crabs, racoons, squirrels, herons, fish, otters, and more! You can check out more about these trails at the North Carolina Aquarium website and learn how these trails are directly linked to President Roosevelt!
6. Hoop Pole Creek Trail
This is an interesting trail to find because its entrance is adjacent to the Atlantic Station Shopping Center, but rest assured, as you go along the half mile trail, you will still get in touch with nature. Following the trail, visitors will be able to see the estuarine ecosystem— home to fish, lizards, turtles, and other wildlife.
The trail actually gets its name from the saplings that were once stripped of bark to provide the hoops for barrels before metal hoops gained popularity.
This is a short, family friendly hike that can get kids excited about the local environment and can bring you closer to the salty marshes along the Crystal Coast. You can check out this website for more information.
7. Neusiok Trail
This is considered the "crown jewel” of the trails along the Crystal Coast. This trail is definitely for the ambitious hiker who wants to get a little taste of all the different ecosystems that the Crystal Coast has to offer. Spanning 22 miles through beaches, forests, cypress swamps, long leaf pine savannahs, and bogs, this trail is certainly an adventure!
Boardwalks, camping spots, and shelters are dotted along the path so you can take a rest and soak in the nature around you. Though it is long, the trail is marked so that you won’t get lost and maps are available.
Named after the Neusiok Tribe that made residence in the area centuries ago, this trail is a challenging and fun experience that will certainly provide a way to get into nature. And don’t worry, if you want to hike the trail, but aren’t sure if the kiddos will be able to keep up, you can always start at various points closer to the end of the trail so that you can make it back to the car before they’re sleeping on their feet!
Keep an eye out for deer, squirrel, woodpeckers, and fox along the trail and check out this website for more information.
8. Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge
Ranging in length and difficulty level, there are five trails at Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge. There are 16 miles of trails total, but you can choose which trail to hike according to your (or your kid’s) needs.
The wildlife refuge is home to the largest salt marsh in North Carolina and is also home to longleaf pine forests, cypress gum swamp, and more! Animals that call this refuge home include owls, wrens and other birds, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, turtles, otters, and more!
This is definitely a fun place for the whole family to get into nature this spring along the Crystal Coast. It is also a great way to teach about conservation and protecting our environment as this refuge seeks to maintain the pristine environment and continues to be a safe haven for its animal life. You can find out more information about the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge and the trails on their website.
These are all such great hiking trails and we hope that you are able to have fun getting into nature by traveling along them this spring! For a map of these trails and directions for each, you can get them all on this page.