Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Northampton County Nature Trail


While perusing The North Carolina Birding Trail: Coastal Plain Trail Guide at a bookstore in Currituck earlier this year, a photo similar to the one above caught our eye. We're not birders—yet—but after browsing through the spiral bound, semi-gloss paperback complete with descriptions, directions, and photos, we quickly concluded it was another rich source in which to find Carolina trails.

And we love Carolina trails.

So last week, we set our GPS to the coordinates listed on page 37 (in lieu of getting lost trying to find this semi-obscure destination using a map), and headed north on I-95.

As the birding guide indicates, the trailhead for the approximately three-quarter mile trail is just off the parking lot of the J.W. Faison Administrative Building in Jackson, NC. After parking, we stepped on the gravel path which instantly transported us from rural surely-there's-a-Hardee's-nearby (I live in such an area, so I can talk!) to a predominantly hardwood forest.

A short distance from the trailhead, the path splits. We bore to the right, and walked in a quiet broken only by an occasional chittering of a bird or a distant hum of a car. Along with a few autumn blooms, benches sat along the trail, allowing visitors to rest or to wait for passing wildlife. We spotted an abundance of deer tracks in the gravel, both crossing the road and sometimes, following it.

After rounding the bend of the looped trail, we came upon a change of scenery: to our left, a picnic area in a clearing. And to our right, peeking out from some brush was the entrance to the boardwalk I'd seen in the bird guide.

If we'd packed our lunch, we would have sat beneath the covered pavilion and watched for one of the many birds known to inhabit these woods. Instead, we opted for the boardwalk and walked into what had to be one of the most scenic areas between Medoc Mountain and Merchant Millpond: the beaver pond.

Shallow, tannic-stained water created what felt like a lagoon. We didn't spot any birds at that time, but it was the heat of the day. We stayed awhile, enjoying the solitude and the scenery formed by cypress trees and other vegetation growing in the water, some with a touch of autumn in their leaves. What a fantastic place to spend time either birding, painting, or just taking pictures.

Once back on the trail, we turned right and continued on the loop, stopping to take photos of a few autumn wildflowers before heading back to our car. This is yet another place we need to check for waterfowl during the winter, or maybe just stop by for another scenic stroll. As the bird guide said, the Northampton Trail is a gem hidden away in eastern North Carolina.

For more information on the Northampton County Nature Trail, check out The North Carolina Birding Trail: Coast Plains Trail Guide, or contact the Northampton Co Cooperative Extension.


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2 comments:

Julie said...

Hi, Kimberlee! I'm catching up from some trips, and you never cease to amaze me. This is so beautiful! I especially love the woods and water...and the gentian picture.

Kimberli said...

Hi Julie! Yes, this is a nice little spot. If y'all are heading to Merchants Millpond, Dismal Swamp or another northern coastal destination, consider stopping. The trail isn't long, but that beaver pond is gorgeous.

BTW, you may want to check out The North Carolina Birding Trail Guide, both coast and piedmont editions. They list several paddle trails as well as land.

Thanks for stopping by!

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