Friday, October 24, 2008

Plymouth, Pungo, and Goose Creek State Park

We recently attempted to visit Merchant Millpond State Park, located in the northeast corner of North Carolina in the Dismal Swamp area, but rain changed our plans. We stopped in Plymouth to discuss options, and while eating an inexpensive but tasty lunch at the Golden Skillet located on Hwy 64, we noticed a sign for Plymouth's Historic District. That began a series of stops that, if placed on a map, would give the impression we had no idea where we were going.

Far from it. We were on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula.

Let's start from the beginning. Established in the 1780's and occupied by Union forces during the war, Plymouth bears a strong resemblance to a technicolor Mayberry. Considering the friendliness we encountered, it just may be! We parked on Water Street, and after checking out a few of the local stores such as the Book & Cup, we walked down to the waterfront. Plymouth skirts the Roanoke River, and while we spotted a few private piers, we couldn't locate a waterfront park or riverwalk that would allow us to enjoy that attraction. We saw what we could by walking along Monroe Street, and then moved on.

Next, we decided to check out Goose Creek State Park, located on the south of the A-P Peninsula. On our journey there, we spotted a sign for the Pocosin National Wildlife Refuge. Us pass up a NWR? We nearly skidded down the street trying to stop.

To our pleasure, the road led to Pungo Lake, the pocosin we tried to find after our trip to nearby Lake Phelps. To our displeasure, we couldn't find the dratted thing again, though according to the GPS, it was right beside us. But the solitude of our isolated location enticed us, and we spent a half hour taking pictures of a field of sunflowerish flowers, a dragonfly, a turtle, and a harness rider and his horse. And then we moved on.

After arriving in eastern North Carolina, several people referred us to Goose Creek State Park. I have no explanation why we haven't checked it out. I suppose, given it's location I assumed we'd find acres of sandy soil and untamed brambles under sparse trees. Don't ask me why, I don't have a clue. How very wrong I was! With its tall deciduous trees and handsome longleaf pines, Goose Creek is an attractive place to visit. As often happens, we had the pleasure of chatting with a park ranger. He not only informed us the park has eight miles of hiking trails (be still my heart), but since they're situated on the Pamlico Sound, someone decided to build a small beach area for guests. Following his directions, we parked in the second parking lot and walked past tall trees laden with Spanish Moss to a picturesque cove. Mosquitoes munched on us as we went, so if you travel to Goose Creek during the warmer months, take bug repellent.

Camping is available at Goose Creek SP, as is boating and canoeing (bring your own watercraft.)

All in all a good day on a very small portion of the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula.

For information on Plymouth, NC, go to Visit Plymouth.
To learn more about Goose Creek SP, go to www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/gocr/main.php
If you know anything about Pungo Lake--in particular, how to find it--please, tell me!



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