Trail Running at Goose Creek State Park

Wooded trail at Goose Creek State Park; Tall pines and hardwoods.

If you’re keen on hiking, bird watching, trail running, camping, or swimming; Goose Creek State Park won’t disappoint.

Eager to explore more of North Carolina’s natural wonders, my better half and I headed to Goose Creek State Park for a weekend camping trip. The park boasts a very unique biodiversity with brackish marsh along the Pamlico Sound transitioning to swamps further inland. With a swimming beach along the Pamlico Sound, eight miles of trails for hiking or running, and scenic and sparsely traveled rural roads surrounding the park, it’s also a great place for multisport training. And a great place for multisport racing, too; several of the other campers were in town for the annual kayakalon.

The friendly and knowledgeable park rangers and informative visitor’s center gave us an authoritative lesson on the natural habitat shaped by hurricanes in this tiny portion of the state. Thanks to a run-in with an early-morning birdwatcher, we also learned a good tip if you’re looking to see an osprey: look for a tall, skinny dead tree with a really weird thing on top. She generously lent her binoculars to allow us a close-up view of an osprey nest with its architect/constructor sticking up out, which was unfortunately just a little bit too far away from the boardwalk for us to snap a decent photo with our camera.

Goose Creek State Park entrance road. Paved road flanked with water and forest on both sides. Light blue sky poking through dense green leafy tree cover.

Immediately upon entering the park, you’re enveloped in the stunning and unique coastal ecosystem.

Gravel road flanked by forest, tall pine and hardwood trees.

The pavement turns to gravel as you head towards the 12 primitive campsites. Register online in advance of your trip to snag one of the coveted sites with a view of the Pamlico Sound.

Flat, dark blue water of the Pamlico Sound stretching out ahead. Forest visible on the horizon beyond the water.

A view of the Pamlico Sound just a stone’s throw away from some of the campsites.

View of Pamlico Sound, with sandy beach in the foreground. Dead pine tree standing on a wide cylinder of roots exposed by eroded sand.

Another spectacular view along the Goose Creek hiking trail  adjacent to the campgrounds.

Narrow wooden boardwalk over swamp.

Boardwalks allow for easy access and nature exploration of the brackish marshes and swamps. Snakes, fish, and a wide variety of bird sightings are a good bet.

Natural surface trail through tall pine forest at Goose Creek State Park.

The hiking trails are relatively smooth and flat, perfect for family excursions. The soft surface is also great for running.

Serene view of still water in the Pamlico Sound with sandy beach in the foreground. Small stand of hardwood trees visible at the left edge of view. Two small short remnant tree trunks sticking out of shallow water.

A few more weeks of warm weather will make swimming a very enticing proposition at the park.

With our first visit in the books, we’re looking forward to a return trip down the road.

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