Table of Contents

Carolina Beach State Park (and 7 Great Things to Do There!)

Carolina Beach State Park is one of our favorite places to visit in North Carolina for multiple reasons. The presence of the Venus Flytrap and the beautiful views of the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway are two major ones.

Nature lovers like us enjoy coming here throughout the year, especially on sunny winter days. If you’ve never been, you’ll see why this wonderful spot in New Hanover County is worth the trip.

Our guide will introduce you to our favorite things to do and how this awesome park came to be. Here’s what you’ll find below:

  • Carolina Beach State Park Facts
  • The History of Carolina Beach State Park
  • Things to Do (Trails, Boating, Camping, and More!)
  • Places Nearby

You can skip ahead to trail info and how to make camping reservations or continue reading for some interesting facts about Carolina Beach State Park!

Carolina Beach State Park Facts

Carolina Beach State Park

This popular coastal attraction is known for a few interesting tidbits and facts.

  • Carolina Beach State Park is about 20 minutes away from Wilmington, 30 minutes from Wrightsville Beach, and less than 10 minutes from Kure Beach.
  • It borders the Cape Fear River and Snow’s Cut/the Intracoastal Waterway.
  • A variety of distinct habitats thrive here, including the following:
    • Forests full of longleaf pine, turkey oak, and live oak trees.
    • Limesink ponds including Cypress Pond, Lily Pond, and Grass Pond.
    • Pocosins.
    • Brackish marshes.
    • Bladderworts.
    • Butterworts.
    • Pitcher plants.
    • Sundews.
    • Venus Flytrap.
    • Alligators (along the river near the marina)
    • Birds (Brown Pelicans, Finches, Ospreys, Warblers, Woodpeckers, and more)
    • Frogs
    • Snakes (Venomous Eastern Coral)

    The History of Carolina Beach State Park

    Carolina Beach State Park Sugarloaf Dune

    • Long before its establishment as a park and before European settlement, the Cape Fear Indians lived here. They occupied the land that includes today’s Carolina Beach State Park, and its surroundings.
    • The 50-foot Sugarloaf Dune is one of the park’s major landmarks. As early as the 1730s, it appeared on boat navigational charts.
    • Colonists first permanently settled along the Lower Cape Fear River in 1726.
    • The area soon after thrived as a commercial port for agricultural products, timber, and naval stores.
    • During the Civil War, 5,000 Confederate troops used Sugarloaf to aid the defense of Wilmington and Fort Fisher.
    • The land known as Pleasure Island became an island in 1930 after the dredging of Snow’s Cut connected Myrtle Grove Sound to the Cape Fear River.
    • To preserve the unique flora and fauna here, Carolina Beach State Park was established in 1969.
    • It’s one of a few state park sites on the NC coast. Others include Hammocks Beach State Park (home to Bear Island) and Fort Macon State Park.

    Is Swimming Allowed?

    The short answer to “Can you swim at Carolina Beach State Park?” is “no.”

    That’s because of the dangerously rough currents and sharp drop-offs on both the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway/Snow’s Cut side of the park. Please follow park rules and do not swim at Carolina Beach State Park.

    Things to Do in Carolina Beach State Park

    The Visitor Center

    We’ll occasionally stop by the Carolina Beach State Park Visitor Center on State Park Road. Restrooms are adjacent to the center.

    Inside, some concessions and souvenirs are available for purchase. You can also ask questions about trail conditions, camping check-in, and anything else related to the park.

    Keep in mind that the office may close due to staffing shortages or any other unforeseeable reasons. When the Visitor Center is closed during park hours, you can visit the marina store for all of the above.


    Carolina Beach State Park has a designated picnic area between the Campground and the Marina. It’s wheelchair-accessible and has grills to accommodate the perfect picnic experience.

    This is where you’ll also start the TRACK Trail that we’ll detail more shortly.

    The Marina has some picnic tables, too, if you’d like to eat and watch the boats that are docked at the slip.

    Trails (for Hiking and Biking)

    Carolina Beach State Park Flytrap Trail

    There are 9 officially designated Carolina Beach State Park trails. One trail (TRACK trail) is part of another (Snow’s Cut Trail) and 3 of the park’s trail spur off the Sugarloaf Trail.

    Here’s a map and a breakdown of each one:

    • Campground Trail (1 Mile Loop): This trail connects Sugarloaf Trail with the Visitor Center and Family Camping area. It’s a nice diversion through sandhill forest, with longleaf pines and live oaks dominating the scene.
    • Fitness Trail (1 Mile Loop, Wheelchair-Accessible): The Fitness Trail is the only one located outside the park gates. It’s also paved and features exercise and activity stations along the way.
    • Flytrap Trail (0.5 Mile Loop, Wheelchair-Accessible): Flytrap Trail is largely popular because of its short distance. The scenic wooden boardwalk and Venus Flytraps that can sometimes be spotted are another reason to walk this trail. Arrive early if you want to get a parking spot because they can fill up on busy days. Flytrap Trail also connects to Sugarloaf Trail and Swamp Trail via a short spur.
    • Snow’s Cut Trail (0.75 Miles One Way): You can reach Snow’s Cut Trail from a parking lot outside the park gate, a trailhead inside the park, or via the TRACK Trail inside the park. Snow’s Cut Trail runs along Snow’s Cut (Intracoastal Waterway), with more that a few spots to grab scenic views of the water. Be careful, as there are some steep sandy dropoffs.
      • TRACK Trail (0.25 Miles): The Carolina Beach State Park TRACK Trail starts behind the picnic area, with brochures available for kids at the beginning. You’ll follow this for a short distance before meeting the Snow’s Cut Trail.
      • Oak Toe Trail (0.25 Miles One Way): The Oak Toe Trail will take you down to the Marsh Overlook, where views of the Cape Feawr River and brackish marsh await.
      • Sand Live Oak Trail (1.5 Mile Loop): Other than the Sugarloaf Trail, this is the longest trail at Carolina Beach State Park. Sand Live Oak Trail also leaves park property and onto US Federal land for a short stint before returning. The hike runs through ancient sand dune forests before reconnecting with the Sugarloaf Trail. It is considered a loop, but the Sand Live Oak Trail starts and ends at nearby points along the Sugarloaf Trail.
      • Swamp Trail (0.75 Miles One Way): If you started from the Marina, the Swamp Trail is the first spur you’ll encounter. It meets the Sugarloaf Trail before branching off toward the Flytrap Trail and its eventual reconnection with the Sugarloaf Trail.

      Do you have a favorite hike at Carolina Beach State Park? If so, let us know in the comments below or by email!

      Guided Hikes

      You can hike whenever the park is open, but do keep an eye out for guided hikes led by park staff and rangers. Here are a few examples of park-led hikes:

      • Biological Wonderland Hike
      • Carnivorous Plant Hike
      • Fourth Wednesday Bird Walk

      Carolina Beach State Park does keep an events and programs page for us all to follow.


      Carolina Beach State Park Marina Boat Slip

      If you’ve got a boat, then Carolina Beach State Park is a wonderful place to take it! Where Snow’s Cut meets the Cape Fear River, there’s a 54-slip marina, a fuel dock, and two public boat ramps.

      If you rent a boat slip, you’ll have access to showers at the marina.


      Carolina Beach State Park Boat Intracoastal Waterway

      Carolina Beach State Park is easily one of North Carolina’s best fishing spots. Speckled trout, sheepshead, and flounder are a few of the fish waiting to be hooked!

      You can either fish from your boat after launching it from the marina, from the riverbank, or from the marina’s wheelchair-accessible fishing deck.


      You can always extend your stay at Carolina Beach State Park by camping here. There are a few camping options, too, which include the following:

      • Tent, Trailer, and RV Camping Area: The Tent, Trailer, and RV Camping Area is located in the Family Campground Area near Snow’s Cut. It hosts 83 family campsites that include 1 wheelchair-accessible site, 9 full hookup sites, 70 non-electric sites, and 4 electric and water hookup sites. Each site has a picnic table and a charcoal grill or fire ring.
      • Camper Cabins: There are 4 camper cabins at Carolina Beach State Park. These are located in the same area as the Tent, Trailer, and RV campsites. Each camper cabin sleeps 6 people and is equipped with electrical outlets, heating, and air-conditioning. A picnic table, charcoal grill, and a fire ring are situated outside each camper cabin.
      • Group Camping Areas: There are two Group Camping Areas, each located along the Swamp Trail. The Flytrap Trail parking lot is about 400 yards from these sites. Site #1 can accommodate up to 26 people and Site #2 can fit up to 40 people. Both are equipped with two picnic tables, grills, fire rings, and pit toilets.

      A dump station is located near the bathhouse and Family Campground Area.

      For Carolina Beach State Park camping reservations, call 1-877-722-6762.

      Ready to Enjoy these Things to Do in Carolina Beach State Park?

      Carolina Beach State Park TRACK Trail

      Carolina Beach State Park is another reason to spend time in this amazing area we all know as Pleasure Island. Whether you’re searching for Venus Flytraps, want to do some fishing, take your boat out, or just enjoy some nature time, we think this is the perfect place.

      If you know about this awesome state park and have fun experiences to share, you can do so in the comments section below or by email. Either way, we hope to hear from you.

      For first-time visitors, please feel free to join the conversation and don’t forget to share your photos in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!

      Before you do so, here are a few more things to do nearby.

      Nearby Attractions

      Kure Beach Pier

      Downtown Wilmington is about 20 minutes away from Carolina Beach State Park, packed with fun things to do, great restaurants, and more. Here are places that are even closer:

      • Carolina Beach: The Town of Carolina Beach is just a few minutes away from the park. It’s one of the most popular beaches near Wilmington. Beautiful and family-friendly, its boardwalk well-known for great food and shopping.
      • Kure Beach: Kure Beach (pronounced cure-ee) is less than 10 minutes away from Carolina Beach State Park. It’s a relatively quiet, family-friendly town with a relatively less crowded beach—one of our personal favorites. Kure Beach is complemented by lovely pastel-colored homes and the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic Coast. Kure Beach is also a great place to base your adventures to the following popular attractions:
      • Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

      Here are some more things to do in the area around Carolina Beach State Park.

      How Many State Parks Are There In The U.S.?

      waterfall cascades across rocks at a state park in the U.S.

      Majestic purple mountains, beautifully spacious skies stretching over amber-colored grain waving in the wind, and great plains laden with fruit—all bookended by great seas that shine in the sun; the poem that became the song we all know was first published in 1895—10 years after the first state park was established in the United States.

      In much the same way those iconic words strike a chord with people who love our country, the state parks established around the nation represent the best America has to offer.

      But while many Americans have visited one or several state parks, very few know how many there are in the state they live in, let alone the number of parks in the entire United States.

      How Many State Parks Are There in the U.S.?

      Pinning down exactly how many American state parks there are is a little tricky, as state forests, historic sites, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and other public lands often get lumped in to the totals. If you restrict the list to official parks, there are 2,474 state parks in the United States.

      If you managed to visit one state park per day, it would take you close to seven years to see them all—that’s pretty incredible when you think about it!

      While the total number of parks average out to a little less than fifty per state, the reality is quite a bit more lopsided than that. The state with the lowest number of state parks has less than a dozen, while several others boast more than 150 state parks spread around within their borders.

      We did the research to help you make sense of it all, and break down how many state parks there are by state below:

      How Many State Parks in Alabama?

      people walking along a gulf coast beach in a state park in alabama

      The Yellowhammer State or Cotton State offers 21 state parks with activities for everyone with access to residents and out-of-staters. With 48,000 acres and 250 plus trails, Alabama offers an impressive set of parks to encourage outdoor exploration.

      The park boasts 6.2 million visitors annually as they offer almost 3,000 campsites. In addition, some of their parks offer notable features such as cabins, cottages, lodges, zip-lining, caves, ORV trails, and archery.

      There are a variety of natural wonders in Alabama perfect for anyone. The state offers crystal clear underground springs, caverns with unique landscapes at Cathedral Caverns and Rickwood Caverns, and mountains like Sand, Cheaha, or Oak Mountain.

      Of course, you can visit beaches on the Gulf Coast too, or enjoy waterfalls and even canyons as just some of the many wonders available to those ready to explore this great state.

      Want to know more about Alabama? Find State Parks in Alabama here.

      How Many State Parks in Alaska?

      view of mountains and lakes through trees at a state park in alaska

      Alaska offers the most landmass compared to any other state, with 34 state parks. All of the state parks are to the central or east portion of the state, staying clear of the western peninsula and western coasts.

      Despite how few parks are in Alaska, these parks still garner about 4 million visits every year.

      Visitors will love exploring the wild mountainous parks with crystal clear waters and greenery everywhere. As the state accesses the ocean at three sites, water sports are common activity, and several lakes like Birch, Quartz, Harding, Fielding, Chatanika, Salcha, Chena, Clearwater, Tanana, and Delta, everyone can find their personal oasis.

      Two rivers add to the water access in this park, including the Chilkoot and Chilkat. Add in the mountains such as the Wood River Mountains and Shoup Glacier, and you have even more reasons to visit these gorgeous states.

      Learn more about Alaska State Parks to find the right option for your next vacation.

      How Many State Parks in Arizona?

      Within the expansive state of Arizona, more than 3.2 million visitors enjoy the 29 parks the state offers. The state parks cover over 100 square miles; this total includes the newest park, Rockin’ River State Park.

      One location not to miss is Lake Havasu, which boasts a waterfall and beaches providing camping and views of the mountains. Visitors will also experience mountains such as the impressive Flatiron Mountains and the Grand Canyon sprinkled with cacti.

      The Mogollon natural bridge created out of the rock is located in the Tonto State Park, which also includes access to the Colorado River and incredible rock structures ready to leave you in awe.

      Learn more about Arizona State Parks at this link.

      How Many State Parks in Arkansas?

      waterfall behind a stone bridge at a state park in arkansas

      Arkansas is home to 46 state parks which are visited by around 9 million visitors every year. The parks are spread over 54,400 acres, and include forests, wildlife habitats, wetlands, outdoor recreation, unique historic sites, and resources.

      Furthermore, the state does not charge for entrance into the park, giving visitors access to tons of free activities.

      Inside the nearly fifty parks, expect to see some incredible views, such as Mount Magazine with a peak of 2,735 feet above sea level and Rich Mountain, which is home to brilliant scenery.

      In addition, Arkansas houses many rivers and lakes perfect for rafting, such as the White and the Mississippi Rivers. The “Natural State” delivers adventures outdoors and adds historic buildings and museums too.

      Check out more information about Arkansas Parks.

      How Many State Parks in California?

      It’s no surprise the third-largest state, California, is home to 134 state parks with beaches and monuments spanning 615,000 miles. The Golden State offers over 5,000 miles of trails and over 11,000 prehistoric archaeological sites.

      More than 68 million people visit California’s state parks every year, with the most visitors heading to those parks on the Pacific coast with access to beaches on the ocean.

      With so many parks, it may be hard to pick where to start when visiting California. Options like the Santa Lucia Mountains, home to Big Sur, and the several parks home to the Redwood trees entice visitors to extend their stay.

      Lake Tahoe offers crystal clear lakes surrounded by mountains. Visitors can try out more arid parks such as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park or move off the mainland to Morro Bay, while waterfall enthusiasts will love Lake Britton within the Cascade Mountains.

      How Many State Parks in Colorado?

      multiple waterfalls cascading into a stream at a state park in colorado

      The Centennial State provides 43 state parks spanning over 210,400 acres of incredible beauty and foliage.

      Visitor numbers to these parks swell to almost 20 million visitors every year, and the state park system offers discounts for senior citizens, as well as annual passes available with low rates for other visitors.

      A few sights no traveler should miss include the Golden Gate Canyon, San Juan Mountains, Barr Lake, Colorado Springs, and the Colorado River.

      Find grasslands, prairies, natural rock formations, and much more with activities for all four seasons.

      Colorado offers many other parks you can investigate at this site.

      How Many State Parks in Connecticut?

      Connecticut offers 102 state parks which are visited by about 9 million people every year, making it one of the most robust tourism destinations in the U.S.

      The parks are home to 32,500 acres of gorgeous New England foliage. In the fall, the parks garner extra attention for leaves turning deep shades of red, yellow, and green.

      This tiny state offers so much to see beyond gorgeous foliage, such as the stone Gillette Castle, complete with tours. The entire southern border of the state meets with the Atlantic Ocean, and offers views of New York’s Long Island in the distance.

      Be sure to check out the Sleeping Giant mountains, waterfalls at Kent Falls, and Lake Waramug, to reconnect yourself with nature.

      Unearth other foliage rich Connecticut Parks right here.

      How Many State Parks in Delaware?

      The small state of Delaware packs in 17 state parks, hosting over six million visitors annually. Across 26,000 acres, the park system provides recreational opportunities while protecting the beautiful natural forests.

      Delaware lies alongside the Atlantic Ocean, with easy access to the beaches and views of New Jersey in the distance.

      If the ocean is too cold for you, try out Killens or Lums pond, or check out the unique Trap pond, with thick-trunked trees in the water creating an obstacle course for boaters.

      Be sure to visit freshwater marshlands at Brandywines Creek near the river of the same name to relax and reconnect with nature.

      Get the information you need on all Delaware Parks at our page.

      How Many State Parks in Florida?

      hiker on a suspension bridge in a state park in Florida

      The Sunshine State separates the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean with an impressive park system serving 25 million visitors every year.

      On the Florida peninsula, visitors will find 158 state parks spanning across 800,000 acres. These parks are filled with massive trails and activities for the discerning visitor.

      Honeymoon island offers the quietest beaches out of all the parks, while a visit to Big Talbot island is perfect for bird lovers.

      Many visitors love the natural springs in Florida, including Ichetucknee, Weeki Wachee, Wekiwa, and Blue Springs. The Crystal River and Wekiva River are wonderful locations for water sports, including snorkeling and observing manatees.

      See more stunning Florida State Parks at this link.

      How Many State Parks in Georgia?

      Georgia offers 84,000 acres spread through 49 state parks, all with a touch of southern hospitality. Record amounts of visitors spend quality time in the park, with nearly 12 million people visiting the parks each year.

      Visitors will love experiencing the Cloudland and Providence canyons and rapids at Tallulah Gorge, the Crooked River, and the Red Top mountains.

      Another incredible location is blackwater lake, which is peppered with cypress trees and is home to a historic covered bridge.

      You can also take a day or two to visit Georgia’s Atlantic coastline to unwind with the serene sounds of the ocean.

      Learn about more beautiful Georgia Parks here.

      How Many State Parks in Hawaii?

      colorful canyons in a state park in hawaii

      The beautiful island state of Hawaii offers 20 state parks with almost 5 million visitors every year. The parks take up about 30,000 acres across the five islands, most of which are close to the Pacific Ocean and offer impressive views.

      You can visit the Ko’olau mountains, reefs, and springs, or visit Manuka park to see the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano. Visitors can also enjoy waterfalls and a river at Wailuku State Park.

      Hawaii offers even more beauty at these other state parks.

      How Many State Parks in Idaho?

      With 27 state parks maxing out at 43,000 acres, Idaho has room for a staggering 7,670,000 plus visitors every year, and includes activities for everyone.

      Major sites to visit include the Snake River Plain and the St. Joe River, along with the Mesa Falls, which falls onto a scenic gorge.

      Priest Lake and Lake Cascade offer solitude for busy minds with gorgeous forests and mountain views. Finally, check out North Folk mountains and the Bear River Mountains for epic adventures.

      Discover other rugged parks in Idaho at this link.

      How Many State Parks in Illinois?

      Illinois offers hundreds of state lands and recreation sites, with 41 official state parks covering 475,000 acres. The state is home to preserves, wildlife areas, forests, and more, attracting 44 million visitors every year.

      Some notable sites include the Chain O’ Lakes surrounded by the Fox River and Grass Lake.

      Another body of water includes the Apple River, which is right near a canyon with limestone bluffs and deep ravines. However, the state does not boast many mountains as it’s mostly prairie and flatlands.

      Read about thousands of acres of Illinois Parks by clicking here.

      How Many State Parks in Indiana?

      suspension bridge through a forest in a state park in indiana

      In Indiana, visitors can enjoy 23 state parks boasting 15 million visitors per year. The parks cover 170,00 acres and are home to hundreds of trails and campsites.

      Visitors can experience incredible sites such as Brookville or Cagles Mills lakes, or enjoy the views of Little Smoky Mountains.

      The Ohio River can be accessed in O’Bannon Woods state park next to a state forest, while the Wabash River and Kunkel Lake also offer watersports locations for visitors.

      Other locations worth a visit include the cascading waterfall at Clifty Falls and the canyons at Turkey Run state park.

      Join millions of visitors by finding the right Indiana park for your family.

      How Many State Parks in Iowa?

      Iowa houses 53 state parks covering nearly 53,000 acres of land and offering dozens of state recreation areas. These parks welcome over 12 million visitors annually.

      Among the plethora of gorgeous landmarks in the state, you will find the Des Moines, Maquoketa, Missouri, and the Wapsipinicon rivers, to name a few.

      Many visitors enjoy the many lakes in the state, including Beeds, Blue lake, Clear Lake, and Big Spirit Lake.

      Visitors can enjoy a trip to Canyon State Park and experience its unique rock structures and Mormon history.

      Visit this link to enjoy more information about Iowa Parks.

      How Many State Parks in Kansas?

      The Sunflower State gains up to 8.6 million visitors every year across its 28 state parks.

      Spanning over 117,000 acres, the park system covers flatlands in the Midwest, and is famous for its Prairie Spirit Rail Trail and Cedar Bluffs.

      Residents and out-of-staters will enjoy spending time at Lake Clinton or Crawford Lake, as well as the Verdigris River Valley.

      Other sites of interest include the Neosho River, the Horsethief Canyon made of rocky sandstone, and the Red sandstone formation at Wilson state park.

      Click here to learn more about the state parks in Kansas.

      How Many State Parks in Kentucky?

      Kentucky accumulates millions of visitors each year, but as their state parks are free to visit, it’s difficult to nail down a specific number of visitors per year.

      However, with 37 state parks in Kentucky taking up 48,262 acres of space, they have room to handle a lot of visitors.

      Guests frequent the Kingdom Come State Parks for the rugged mountainous terrain of Pin Mountain, which has an impressive elevation of 2,700 feet.

      Some visitors prefer the beautiful Nolin Lake, which is home to Mammoth Caves. Dale Hollow Lake is a state resort perfect for getaways, as does Kentucky River and Rough River Dam.

      Find more gorgeous Kentucky parks here.

      How Many State Parks in Louisiana?

      In the central-southern state of Louisiana, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy 21 state parks covering approximately 45,000 acres.

      The Pelican State has, on average, 1,621,540 visitors a year for both day use and camping at its state parks.

      While in the state, visit the Bogue Chitto State Park, which offers diverse natural habitats and a scenic river system. The Cane River, Vermilion, and the Mississippi River are also great destinations worthy of a visit.

      In addition, Louisiana is home to multiple lakes, including Bistineau, Bruin, Claiborne, D’Arbonne, and Fausse, as well as being home to Palmetto Island.

      Explore all Louisiana State Parks at this page for additional information.

      How Many State Parks in Maine?

      colorful foliage around a pond at a state park in maine

      The most northeastern state, Maine is home to 31 state parks, which takes up 500,000 acres.

      Annually, the park system welcomes 3.3 million visitors, with record-breaking visitors to their parks, campgrounds, and historic sites.

      The iconic New England state borders New Hampshire, the Atlantic Ocean, and Canada, making it a versatile place to visit.

      The Maine state park system features oceanside boats, lighthouses, moose, and tall pine trees blanketing the woods.

      Visit Mount Katahdin for an exhilarating 5,268-foot climb, and enjoy gorgeous views of the White Mountains and Sebago Lake from the top.

      Make sure to allow time to visit the ocean on warm days, or try a trip to Rangeley Lake for picturesque views and winter activities.

      Delve into Maine’s State Parks to find the right option for your outdoor needs.

      How Many State Parks in Maryland?

      Maryland is home to 48 state parks covering 97,784 acres.

      The park system drives 21.5 million people to experience the state’s natural beauty every year. Maryland parks offer forests and access to the Chesapeake Bay, as well as several other park facilities sure to please

      Visitors can enjoy the Tuckahoe Creek and the Catoctin Mountains, as well as the only oceanfront state park on Assateague Island.

      The Potomac and Susquehanna rivers offer visitors plenty of activities and solitude, as does South Mountain.

      Inquire about the other incredible Maryland State Parks now.

      How Many State Parks in Massachusetts?

      Massachusetts offers 47 state parks. Despite its small footprint in the country, the state parks cover a surprising 450,000 acres.

      Additionally, 35 million people visit the parks every year, making it the ninth-largest park system in the nation.

      Among the most beautiful destinations in the parks are Cape Cod and Bash-Bills Falls, which the highest waterfall in the state.

      Do not forget to visit the Westfield River, Cochituate Lake, and Lake Wyola for the best serene views in all of New England.

      While Massachusetts state has mountains, most are found in the forests and not the state parks.

      Leave no stone unturned in Massachusetts by learning more about their splendid state parks.

      How Many State Parks in Michigan?

      Bordering Lake Michigan, Huron, Superior, Lake Erie, the state of Michigan is home to 77 state parks.

      With 357,000 miles of state parks, there is plenty of room for the 28 million visitors that come to this state every year. With historical sites and tons of natural settings, everyone in the family will love this gorgeous state.

      One of the best parks to visit sits between the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Hamlin and offers forests, sand dunes, dams, a lighthouse, and even a river.

      Find mature forests and an open meadow at Maybury State Park, or visit Mauskallonge Lake to walk along shorelines on Lake Superior. Be sure to see the Porcupine Mountains, which offers access to miles of streams, rivers, and a relaxing waterfall.

      Take charge of your next vacation by seeking out more Michigan parks.

      How Many State Parks in Minnesota?

      Minnesota is a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts, as it is home to 65 parks that span across 267,000 acres.

      Every year the state gets 9.7 million visitors as they have such an entertaining park and trail system, with almost twenty percent of guests coming from out of state and country.

      Gooseberry Falls, Fort Snelling, Itasca, Tettegouche, and Split Rock Lighthouse are the most visited parks in the state.

      Gooseberry Falls offers a waterfall right off Lake Superior. The Mississippi River headwaters go through the Itasca park, while the Blue Mounds park is home to some incredible bedrock.

      Visitors should also check out the Cascade River on Lake Superior for the rocky and green surroundings, as well as a waterfall. Lastly, the Leaf Mountains are located in the Glacial Lakes park, which is also home to rolling prairies.

      Go here to find out more about the Great Lakes at the parks in Minnesota.

      How Many State Parks in Mississippi?

      Mississippi has 25 state parks covering 23,620 miles. Mississippi state parks bring in approximately one million visitors each year.

      Visitors will love spending time at Geiger Lake surrounded by pine forests, Lake Tangipahoa, located about an hour from New Orleans, or one of several other lakes in the state parks.

      Of course, the state has the Mississippi River spiraling upwards along with Gulf of Mexico coastlines, offering plenty of outdoor activities for the discerning visitor.

      Last of all, Mississippi offers visitors access to the Appalachian Mountains at Tishomingo State Park, which is home to archaeological excavations from thousands of years ago.

      Traverse across Mississippi, but first, find out more about their glorious state parks here.

      How Many State Parks in Missouri?

      The landlocked state of Missouri has 55 state parks inside its borders, with 160,000 acres visited annually by 18 million people.

      Guests can visit springs at Bennet Spring, or travel to St. Joe park, where they can visit four lakes at once. Forest Lake is home to broad savannas and heavily wooded shores, making it perfect for camping and fishing.

      Visitors should leave time to visit the Missouri and Mississippi rivers that snake through several parks, as well as Francois Mountain.

      Sift through Missouri’s exquisite parks right here.

      How Many State Parks in Montana?

      The Montana state park system spans 41,000 acres across 46 state parks, and hosts 3.4 million guests annually.

      Montana is home to the country’s biggest and wildest landscapes, meaning the whole family can find something to do.

      From iceberg lakes to caverns with unique rock formations and access to the Mississippi River, Montana is the place to explore.

      Notable sites worth checking out include Flathead Lake, Giant Springs park, Pictograph Cave, and the Rocky Mountains in the northwest.

      Tour the beauty of Montana’s State Parks here.

      How Many State Parks in Nebraska?

      Inside the boundaries of the Cornhusker State, 17 state parks stretch over 35,398 acres of land, ready to accept 5 million guests annually.

      While the state has bluffs, visitors will not be able to climb mountains at Nebraska’s state parks. However, visitors can enjoy the Missouri River, Plate River, and the Niobrara River, home to the state’s highest waterfall.

      Indian Cave State Park is home to a large sandstone cave and rugged scenery, making it a must-see stop on any trip.

      Learn more facts about the stunning State Parks in Nebraska here.

      How Many State Parks in Nevada?

      Nevada is home to 19 state parks. These parks cover 145,760 miles of land and boast over 4 million annual visitors.

      One of the main attractions to the state is the incredibly beautiful Lake Tahoe, which offers blue waters, rocky terrain, and views of the mountains.

      Check out the Cathedral Gorge canyons in the southeast of the Great Basin for the dry mountainous views. Hiking enthusiasts should pay a visit to Wheeler peak, which reaches 3,983 meters in elevation.

      The Valley of Fire will leave you in awe of the breathtaking rock formations, the Silver Springs, and Carson River.

      Have more questions about Nevada State Parks? We have the information you need.

      How Many State Parks in New Hampshire?

      The tiny state of New Hampshire gives guests more to see than leaves turning color; this state is home to 42 state parks spanning 64,000 acres. Over a million visitors come every year to visit the gorgeous oceanside parks and lakes, and spend time on the gorgeous sandy beaches in this state. In New Hampshire, everyone can find something to inspire a love of the outdoors.

      The White Mountains of New Hampshire are perfect for climbing and hiking, while the state is home to many breathtaking lakes such as the Kezar, Silver, and Everett Lake. The Granite State delivers adventure for all.

      Dig into New Hampshire State Parks by clicking here.

      How Many State Parks in New Jersey?

      New Jersey contains 27 state parks. The 430,928 acres of parkland support 17.8 million guests yearly.

      Visitors should check out Long Beach Island to see the Barnegat Lighthouse, or Cape May point to watch the migrating birds.

      Corson’s Inlet park borders the inlet and preserves, giving visitors a pristine location to relax before setting off to Ramapo Mountains to experience pristine coastal forests.

      Visitors can climb the Watchung Mountains for panoramic views of the state, or set sail on the Manasquan River to take in the natural scenery.

      Find out more about New Jersey’s parks and find your next destination here .

      How Many State Parks in New Mexico?

      The vast majority of residents in New Mexico live near one of the state’s 35 parks. There’s room for out-of-staters, too, as the system covers 192,343 acres.

      As for visitors, the parks accumulate 4.5 million guests year after year. Visitors from all walks of life can enjoy the Sacramento Mountains, Jemez Mountain and Spring, Chihuahuan Desert, Pecos River, and the Rio Grande.

      Those looking for a lake tour should head to Oasis State Park to view the cottonwood trees and a small lake.

      Sift through New Mexico State Park’s to plan where you want to go next.

      How Many State Parks in New York?

      fall foliage around a waterfall in a state park in new york

      Despite its small proportions, New York State contains a whopping 164 state parks, many with historical relevance.

      The parks span a dedicated 350,000 acres, allowing for 78 million yearly guests.

      Outdoor enthusiasts can delight in the “Grand Canyon of the East” at Letchworth by the Genesee River, or visit the Fingers Lakes region along with Glen Creek for stunning scenery carved from limestone and shale.

      However, the most notorious site in New York is the incredible Niagara State Falls, enjoyed by visitors to both New York and parts of Canada.

      Examine the charm of New York parks right here.

      How Many State Parks in North Carolina?

      Across the 33 state parks in North Carolina, outdoor lovers will find massive trees, stunning rivers, and views that will set your heart alight.

      With 250,000 acres, the parks can easily welcome the 19.4 million visitors who head to North Carolina every year.

      You can surround yourself with rivers and rock faces at Gorges Park, or visit Jockey’s Ridge for the tallest sand dune.

      North Carolina offers incredible views from several mountains, including views of Crowders and Kerr Lake, the largest lake in the southeast.

      Refine your search of North Carolina here.

      How Many State Parks in North Dakota?

      While North Dakota covers a lot of land, the state only has 13 dedicated state parks. However, the 13 North Dakota state parks cover an incredible 3.8 million acres of public land.

      The state’s grasslands and other areas boast a total of 1.29 million visitors every year, drawing in tourists to their breathtaking, wide-open spaces.

      Visitors can check out the cleanest natural lake, Metigoshe, or enjoy several North Dakota rivers, including the Missouri and Heart Rivers.

      Those looking for incredible vistas should try camping at the Turtle mountains or Sully Creek.

      How Many State Parks in Ohio?

      Up near Lake Erie, Ohio provides an impressive 74 parks over 170,000 acres of land. This massive park system supports almost 31 million annual visitors looking to enjoy the shoreline and forests.

      The diverse park system offers Old Man’s and Ash Caves, a waterfall, and Cantwell Cliffs all in one park. If you prefer water activities, check out Little Miami River or Buckeye lake.

      Investigate Ohio at length with one click.

      How Many State Parks in Oklahoma?

      The Sooner State welcomes thousands of visitors to their 38 state parks, which span over 60,000 acres of land.

      Oklahoma offers some epic hidden gems ready to explore, such as the salt flats at Salt Plains State Park, where guests can dig for selenite crystals.

      Next, visitors can follow the desert landscape to Little Sahara, which has sand dunes towering up to 75 feet tall, left behind by the Cimarron River.

      After that, Gloss Mountain allows for rock scrambling, while daring visitors can check out Robbers Cave, the former hideout of Jesses James in the San Bois Mountains.

      Lastly, visit Natural Falls Park for a unique waterfall over a natural bridge, or check out the Wichita Mountains for massive panoramic views.

      Study Oklahoma’s delightful parks to plan your next outdoor adventure.

      How Many State Parks in Oregon?

      a waterfall peeks through fall leaves at a state park in oregon

      The large state of Oregon is home to 54 state parks, as well as many other properties serving 50 million visitors annually.

      As for the parks, they span 113,000 acres of land, some with access to the Pacific coastline.

      Save time to see plenty of water, such as the large Lake Billy Chinook, Crater Lake, and John Day lake, which is right next to a basalt canyon.

      Stay at Humbug Mountain for the incredible views or visit Cape Falcon and Neah-Kah-nie mountain to continue your adventure.

      To find out more information about Oregon Parks, clickhere.

      How Many State Parks in Pennsylvania?

      Up in the northeast, the historic state of Pennsylvania maintains 110 state parks over 300,000 acres allowing for more than 46 million visitors seeking respite in nature.

      Pennsylvania also offers an impressive 12,000 miles of state park trails. Fans of water features should check out Ricketts Glen park, home to 22 waterfalls and two beautiful lakes.

      Visitors should also check out the Lehigh Gorge even more waterfalls, or head to Laurel Mountain for winter sports.

      Hunt for the right Pennsylvania parks here.

      How Many State Parks in Rhode Island?

      Rhode Island measures only 1,045 square miles, yet still boasts 14 state parks across 8,200 acres.

      Nine million people each year come to visit the small state for a long winding drive around the Atlantic’s rocky coasts, or to visit the Blackstone riverfront.

      Goddard Memorial Park houses a mountain for hiking and plenty of beaches to enjoy, while Aquidneck island makes for a beautiful getaway for visitors of all ages.

      Search for your Rhode Island haven right here.

      How Many State Parks in South Carolina?

      South Carolina state parks protect 90,000 acres, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.

      9 million people come to enjoy South Carolina’s 37 state parks every year.

      Parks like Jones Gap, Table Rock, and Devil’s Fork are tucked into the mountainside, offering hiking experiences for visitors as well as breathtaking views.

      Enjoy a waterfall at Poinsett park or Lake Wateree, and find even more fun activities and natural beauty along the South Edisto or Catawba rivers.

      Tour more of South Carolina’s remarkable parks here.

      How Many State Parks in South Dakota?

      South Dakota is another state with lots of space but only 13 state parks. However, the parks still manage to cover 96,000 acres and receive 3.9 million visitors each year.

      Enjoy rocky terrains at Mount Rushmore and at Custer Park, with both parks offering walking trails along rolling plains and stunning rock formations.

      Guests to South Dakota have access to the Missouri River, as well as several lakes, including the glacial Hartford Beach and Big Stone Lake by the Warren River.

      Explore all of South Dakota’s parks here for your next holiday.

      How Many State Parks in Tennessee?

      Tennessee offers 56 state parks over roughly 200,000 acres. These parks welcome 34.7 million visitors each year.

      The Falling Water River, Burgess Falls, and Blackburn Fork River are all must-see attractions for out of state visitors.

      You also should visit the Appalachian and Cumberland Mountains, as well as some of the beautiful lakes found in this stunning state.

      For water sports, head to Radnor Lake. Cedars of Lebanon and Rock Island offer stunning views and hours in the thick greenery so integral to Tennessee’s natural landscape.

      Determine which spectacular Tennessee State Park will work for your next vacation here.

      How Many State Parks in Texas?

      With more than 580,000 acres of land in Texas, the second-largest state is home to 76 state parks that welcome 8 million outdoor adventurers each year.

      The state parks, natural areas, and historic sites offer adventure opportunities across several landscapes, from tropical to forested to desert scenery.

      Inspire your love for the outdoors at the Massive Big Bend Park or enjoy Texas’ Grand Canyon at Palo Duro. Visitors can check out even more canyons at Caprock.

      You can also visit the only natural lake in the state at Caddo State Park, while dinosaur fans should head to the river with prehistoric tracks at Dinosaur Valley Park to get a glimpse of prehistory Texas.

      Check out Texas’ massive state park system here.

      How Many State Parks in Utah?

      While Utah is known for the Great Salt Lake and adjoining state parks, 10.6 million people visit one 42 of Utah’s state parks every year. The Utah state park system measures an immense 95,000 acres of land and even more water surface acres.

      Bear Lake provides turquoise waters near the Rockies and a myth about its one Loch Ness monster, while Antelope Island in the Great Lake allows you to float on the water with views of mountains in the distance.

      Check out the Canyons at Goblin Valley and Dead Horse Point if you prefer land exploration, as both are only a short drive from the Moab Desert.

      Read more about the astonishing beauty of Utah’s Parks now.

      How Many State Parks in Vermont?

      Visit Vermont to enjoy 56 state parks spanning 350,000 acres of state-owned forest land. Over half a million people come every year to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Green Mountain State.

      While Vermont does not have access to the ocean, it does have Lake Dunmore right next to Mount Moosalamoo.

      Visitors can check out Burton Island and plenty of lakes, such as Elmore Lake, which is unsurprisingly located near Elmore Mountain of the same name.

      Lastly, Jamaica park offers visitors a stunning waterfall and mountain views.

      Escape into the wilds of Vermont here.

      How Many State Parks in Virginia?

      Virginia has 41 state parks covering 75,895 dedicated acres, which welcome 10 million guests each year.

      At Smith Mountain Lake, you get the best of both the beautiful lake and breathtaking mountains, while Natural Tunnel Park offers incredible rock structures.
      Visitors can check out the waterfall with a famous name at Pocahontas State Park, while first Landing Park offers beaches and history.

      Hungry Mother contains a large lake and beautiful woodlands, while Occoneechee offers visitors both a lake and a Native American museum for contemplation. You can also visit the Blue Ridge Mountains and learn about the Civil War on your next trip to Virginia.

      Review Virginia’s lush green parks here.

      How Many State Parks in Washington?

      Thanks in part to its border with Canada, no other state offers quite the same unique beauty, as Washington state with its 124 state parks.

      Visitors can enjoy over 400 miles of roads, 422 miles of trails, and 59 miles of beaches, enough to handle 40 million visitors a year.

      Find peaceful waters at Battle Ground Lake, a lighthouse at Cape Disappointment, and two bodies of water at Conconully.

      Lake Wenatchee contains crystal clear waters fed by a glacier, as well as a river and mountains in the distance, while Fort Vancouver gives a view of snow-capped mountains and the Columbia River.

      Discover Washington State Parks at length here.

      How Many State Parks in West Virginia?

      old mill with a water wheel next to a brook in a state park in west virginia

      West Virginia features 35 state parks and shares 164,000 acres of land with both state forest and campsites. 7 million people come to the parks each year for a superb time with nature.

      Visitors can gain a connection to nature at the Tygart Valley River, or visit Droop Mountain for incredible views.

      Berkeley Springs gives visitors real respite in the form of hot mineral springs, while Blackwater Falls provides rocky terrain and a waterfall.

      Uncover all of West Virginia’s astounding beauty at this link.

      How Many State Parks in Wisconsin?

      Wisconsin shares borders with Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Michigan State. Furthermore, Wisconsin contains 48 state parks over 60,570 acres, including recreation areas.

      Annually, the state welcomes 20 million guests to their parks for outdoor recreation.

      Visitors can camp on Brunet Island in a thick canopy of trees, or enjoy the beach at Harrington State Park.

      Hartman Creek is a hidden gem with seven lakes, while Brady’s Bluff offers guests a steep mountain climb.

      Finally, the park system in Wisconsin offers access to the Mississippi River and Yellowstone Lake, allowing visitors to take advantage of a wide range of water activities.

      Review Wisconsin’s wild side in more detail here.

      How Many State Parks in Wyoming?

      The ninth-largest state, Wyoming only contains 11 state parks.. However, these parks cover an impressive 46,455 acres of land and take in almost 5.2 million visitors a year.

      You can enjoy Yellowstone National Park in the quiet state, as well as check out the Wind River Indian Reservation, the Absaroka Mountains with impressive waters, and the fascinating geological marvel of Devil’s Tower, located in the northern plains.

      Visitors to the state can revel in the therapeutic waters at Hot Springs State Park to wind down from their long journey, or head to the Seminoe Mountains to look for gold.

      Get more facts about the remarkable Wyoming State Park system to help you plan for your next vacation.

      How many hiking trails are there atcarolina beach state park

      North Carolina has one of the best State Park Systems in the entire country. Altogether, there are 41 State Parks from the mountains to the coast. They are diverse and full of beauty. You can go hunting for waterfalls in the mountain parks, play on the water at one of the Piedmont parks, or stick your feet in the sand at one of the beach parks. We are blessed to be from a state where there is so much beauty in the State Parks, and, most of them are free! There are so many great North Carolina State Park Hikes.

      We have visited all of the parks that North Carolina has to offer and hiked most of their trails. We wanted to put together a list of some of our favorite trails (in no particular order) that you definitely need to check out. There is no method to this list, just some great North Carolina state park hikes to seek out and explore. Check it out and let us know how many you have hiked.

      Elliot couse nature hiking trail at Carolina Beach

      Elliott Coues Nature Trail

      You can find the Elliott Coues trail in Fort Macon State Park outside of Atlantic Beach. When you think of the beach, you don’t normally think of hiking. However, this trail will make you change your mind. This trail starts at the main parking area and takes you on a 3.2 mile loop through the park.

      Elliott Coues travels through the dunes along the ocean. You don’t get to hike through dunes too often, so take advantage of this. Along the way there are a bunch of little spur trails that take you up higher on the dunes. Definitely do that. From the top you have spectacular views across the sound to Morehead City on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

      Throughout the trail you are walking in a maritime forest. These trees are beautiful and make you feel like you are walking through a cave. The sound side offers great wildlife viewing, especially birds. Though people typically go to the beach in the summer, we think this is a great park to visit in the winter months. That sun would be pretty hot walking through those dunes in summer.

      Stone Mountain loop hiking trail

      Stone Mountain Loop Trail

      The Stone Mountain Loop Trail is located in, you guessed it, Stone Mountain State Park. Stone Mountain is in Roaring Gap, NC about a half hour drive northwest from Elkin. Stone Mountain is a magnificent granite dome with a 600-foot rock face, like nothing else in North Carolina.

      The reason why we love this trail so much is because of all that it offers. This is a 4.5 mile loop with multiple parking areas. This makes it easy for you to park and hike to a particular point of interest, but we recommend doing the whole thing. There are three main attractions on this trail.

      The Hutchinson Homestead is located on this trail. This is a well preserved homestead from the 1800’s. There are plenty of volunteers here to answer any questions and they often have people in costumes teaching about life on the homestead. There are some great views of the mountain from here.

      Another great aspect of this trail is the waterfall. Stone Mountain Falls is a 200-ft. waterfall that is pretty unique. It is almost like a slide, just too steep to slide down. You can take a little spur trail and get to the middle falls and lower falls if you have the time and energy.

      The highlight of the trail though is Stone Mountain itself. This trail takes you all the way to the top. It is steep in some areas, but it is worth it. The views are amazing from the top. It is a great place to sit, rest, and contemplate the big things in life.

      We like to hike this trail from the Upper Trailhead Parking Lot and going towards the summit first. That way, we do the tough part of the trail early and can cruise at the end.

      buckquarter creek and holdent mill trails - great North Carolina state park hikes

      Buckquarter Creek and Holden Mill Trails

      Eno River State Park is a hiker’s park. There are close to 28 miles of trails at this park and most of them are super fun. One of our favorite trail combinations at this park is the Buckquarter Creek and Holden Mill Trails. Together, these two trails are 4.1 miles. You can get on the Buckquarter Creek Trail from the main visitor’s center, but it is probably best to pick it up at the Piper-Cox museum.

      On the Buckquarter you will get the best views of the rapids that flow through along the Eno. There are some really great viewpoints at the top of the staircases. These are not too far from the parking lot, so if you just want to see those, it is about a quarter-mile. We recommend going to the 1.5-mile mark so you can pick up the Holden Mill Trail.

      Holden Mill takes you past the remnants of one of the many mills that used to be in this area. It really isn’t too much to look at. But, there are some great places to get out on the rocks in the water. Be careful, it moves quick in some spots. Use common sense. The trail near the water is one of our favorite trails we have been on in North Carolina. There are giant boulders, rock walls and outcrops, and some pretty tough terrain that you get to scramble over. We were not expecting that, so it made it extra fun.

      great North Carolina state park hikes, Sugarloaf trail at Carolina Beach

      Sugarloaf Trail

      Sugarloaf is another great trail on the coast. This one is in Carolina Beach State Park. This park is located in Carolina Beach, just not on the ocean. It is on the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway. There are plenty of beaches here and sand dunes though.

      The Sugarloaf Trail is a 3 mile loop that takes off from the marina. Once you get on the trail, there are numerous spur trails that you can get on, but the loop itself is plenty good. This trail actually has a little elevation change because you are going up and down sand dunes (not a ton, but it definitely is not flat).

      What makes this trail so cool is it takes you by the beach along the water. It is different than the ocean, no waves, but you can sit out here and relax and watch the boats go by. Sugarloaf Dune is what you hike to on this trail. Make sure you climb the top and then back on the other side by the water. A fantastic spot. On the other side of Sugarloaf Dune there are tons of smaller dunes that you can run all around.

      Great North Carolina State Park Hikes - Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain

      Profile Trail

      The Profile Trail is one of the more intense trails on this list, but you can do it if you are prepared for it. This trail is located in Grandfather Mountain State Park. The trailhead is at the Profile Trail parking area at 4198 NC Highway 105 N. We drove by it like four times the first time we hiked here, so keep your eyes peeled. This is not part of the Grandfather Mountain attraction, but you can hike to there from here.

      This trail is so beautiful. There are so many mountain laurels, water features, bridges, wildflowers, and views along this 3.6 mile hike (one way). Most hikers can do the first two miles pretty easily, from there it gets more strenuous. The most strenuous part of it all is the last half mile. If you can do this though you will be able to join the Grandfather Trail and hike all the way up to some super fun ladder trails. It is probably better to start from the top by the mile-high swinging bridge if you are only interested in this part.

      Priness Ann Trail at Lumber River State Park in NC

      Princess Ann Trail

      Ok, we are just as surprised as you are seeing a trail from Lumber River State Park on this list. However, the Princess Ann Trail really snuck up on us and we enjoyed our time hiking this trail. The trail is 1.5 miles, but to get to it you hike another half-mile and if you add the couple of loops around it you can get up to 2.5 miles total.

      There are three things that stood out to us with this trail. The first is it goes by the Lumber River and gives you some excellent views of the water. The second is the boardwalks that you walk on and access (bring a fishing pole if you have one). The third is the incredible mossy trails that you walk on during the loop part of the trail. It is like you are walking through a magical carpeted forest. Walking on the moss just makes everything so quiet, and we have yet to see anyone else on this trail.

      We are not recommending making a trip to Lumber River State Park just for this trail. However, if you are in the area or are trying to fill up your passport book, make sure this is on your itinerary for the day. Though this is not one of our favorite parks, it is a pretty cool and unique trail. Goes to show you that every park has a redeeming quality. That is what makes them so amazing!

      Balsam Nature trail is a great North Carolina state park hike!

      Balsam Nature Trail

      This is the shortest trail on the list but it is the highest elevation of them all. The reason for that is because this trail is located at the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The trail takes you from the peak of the mountain on a mini-loop back to the parking lot at the summit. In total the trail is only .75 miles. Most people miss it though because they think the best part of going to the top is the observation platform, we would disagree. This trail is where it is at.

      When you are on this trail it feels like you have been transported to the Pacific Northwest. You are actually in a temperate rain forest on this trail because of the amount of rain that falls here. Crazy, but true. The trail is covered in more shades of green than you will ever see anywhere. The moss is electric. There are also plenty of fir trees that are super cool to walk through. This is fairytale woods stuff.

      Make sure you dress warmly, no matter the time of year you go. We have been when it was under 40 degrees in the middle of summer.

      Goose Creek Trail North Carolina state park

      Goose Creek Trail

      The Goose Creek Trail is in Goose Creek State Park in Washington, NC. This is one of our favorite Inner Banks towns and the State Park is a big reason for that. The Goose Creek Trail runs right through the middle of the park, connecting the Pamlico River to Goose Creek. Make sure you check out the short .3 mile Live Oak Trail on the Pamlico side. There you will find some of the most beautiful live oaks decorated with Spanish moss that you will ever see.

      The trail itself is a two-mile one way trail that takes you through some really pretty landscape. There are a couple of spectacular boardwalks in swampy areas along with some great forest sections. This is a flat trail, easy for anyone to hike, but be careful if has been raining a lot. You will get muddy! Just adds to the experience.

      Rainbow Falls trail is a great North Carolina state park hike

      Rainbow Falls Trail

      This trail might be the best trail in all of North Carolina and definitely one of the great North Carolina state park hikes. It offers so much. This will challenge a lot of people, but it is one that can be done. This trail is considered strenuous by the Park System and some have said they don’t agree with that. We think the reason for that is because people have not hiked a ton of trails in the Park System. Compared to many others in the system, this one is more difficult, hence the strenuous designation. It is tough, not the toughest ever.

      The Rainbow Falls Trail is located in Gorges State Park in Sapphire. This is one of the most gorgeous parks we have been to in the United States. So much beauty here. This is a 1.5 mile hike one way to the magnificent Rainbow Falls. Along the way there are plenty of elevation gains, tons of steps that are pretty steep, and incredible views everywhere you look. The trail takes you by Horse Pasture River with its many cascades and rock outcroppings. Plenty of places to stop and relax.

      The highlight of this trail are the two waterfall. Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls. Rainbow Falls is where the trail officially ends, and it is 1.5 miles from the trailhead. If you climb up the steps to the top of Rainbow Falls, you can continue another quarter mile and get to Turtleback Falls. These are two of the best waterfalls in the state, for different reasons. Make sure you pack some shoes that can get wet.

      This trail is one of the most difficult to get to because Gorges is so far west, but it is one that every N.C. State Park fan must do once.

      Campbell Creek Loop Trail Raven Rock

      Campbell Creek Loop Trail

      This trail is located in Raven Rock State Park outside of Lillington. When going to Raven Rock, everyone heads off to the Raven Rock Trail. You should definitely do that at least once in your life (really, multiple times), but our favorite trail at this park is the Campbell Creek Loop Trail.

      This is a really scenic 4.5 mile hike that seemingly transports you from the Piedmont to the mountains of North Carolina. For the majority of the trip, you hike along Campbell Creek. We recommend going after a lot of rain because the creek gets pretty high and moves quick in some spots. Along the way, you will be able to climb all over rocks, see a couple of water (trickles) falls, and sweet bridges. It really is like you are in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

      This is the only way that you can get to the Lanier Falls Trail as well. This is a little quarter mile spur trail that takes you to the Falls. These are actually cascades in the river, but they are pretty cool, especially for this area of North Carolina. This is a great spot to take a break and enjoy some lunch. There is some elevation change on this trail, so be prepared for this.

      That’s it! Our list of 10 Great North Carolina State Park Hikes for you to get lost in the woods (or dunes). We had to cut a ton of trails off of this list, so we will be putting together another list or two soon. How many of them have you been on? Which ones would you add to the list? Maybe they will make the next post?

      If you are traveling to any of our wonderful State Parks, check out our guides for them on the blog. Maybe start with Gorges, Raven Rock, or Carolina Beach? Hope to see you on the trails going the adventure way!




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