With tall trees—some dripping with Spanish moss—nearly eight miles of hiking trails that meander through the woods and over wetlands, camping, fishing, boating (byo boat) and a BEACH, visitors can stay busy for the day or for the weekend, yet many ENCers have never heard of the place.
That has to change!
Following the recommendation of those who have gone, we've visited Goose Creek twice now. During our first visit last fall, a park ranger told us about the beach, which edges the Pamlico sound. After parking near the Live Oak trailhead, we meandered down a short path, fighting mosquitoes, until we happened on this:
There's more beach, but that tree listing over the water caught my eye.
On our recent trip, we visited the other side of the park, and we did so by hiking the Ivey Gut Trail. This sandy, flat pathway skirts Goose Creek (the actual creek) and hikers can catch glimpses of the blue water as they go.
We started the hike at the Education Center. Behind it, visitors will find a boardwalk that stretches over wetlands and at least one snake.
From there we continued on until we reached the road. The Ivey Gut Trail branches off from that juncture, and continues on to the southwest corner of the park, where it then loops. But down in this corner, you'll find primitive camping, a picnic area, and the westernmost edge of the Goose Creek Trail where it intersects with the Flatty Creek Trail.
So if we had been in the mood--meaning we'd brought plenty of water and I'd worn the right shoes for hiking over sand (amazingly, that isn't hiking sandals), we could have hiked Ivey Gut, the Flatty Creek Loop, then hiked the entire Goose Creek Trail to the other side of the park, where we could have completed the Live Oak and Mallard Creek Trails, then walked along the road back to the Education Center.
But we didn't bring enough water, and less than a mile into the Ivey Gut Trail, my sandaled feet hurt so bad, I looked like this:
How many times do I have to say it? Dress appropriately on the trail! (Pointing to myself here.)
Despite my pain, we had a pleasant walk through those tall pine trees. Goose Creek is yet another good place for viewing wildlife (see snake above), and my hawk-eyed husband spotted a woodpecker flitting around:
Also along the more graveled portions of the trail, we found coral and shells. I asked someone at the Education Center about it, and she explained it was leftovers from a nearby phosphate factory. My mind immediately fled to the survey I found of the waters of eastern North Carolina:
The Pungo River and Yorktown Formations contain one of the largest known concentrations of marine vertebrate fossils in the world. Among the more prominent vertebrate fossil assemblages found at the site are sharks, fish, sea and terrestrial birds, baleen and toothed whales, walrus, and true seals. Mining at PCS has provided a unique opportunity for extensive study of this fossil assemblage. The mining operation has made available a wealth of paleontologically valuable data to the scientific community, and ultimately, the public (Ray 1983, 1987).1Oh my, I hope that wasn't it.
To get to Goose Creek from anywhere but north and east of the park, travel east on Hwy 264, then turned right on Camp Leach Rd (the narrow road BEFORE Hwy 92.) Follow signs to the park entrance.
WARNING~~*~~WARNING~~*~~WARNING~~*~~WARNING!In addition to snakes and woodpeckers, an abundance of ticks and skeeters live at Goose Creek. Ticks that may carry diseases you don't want. The park posts warnings, and please, heed them. Kelley found a tick shortly after returning home. It isn't the first one that hitched a ride on us after visiting an ENC destination. Take the proper precautions to avoid them. My resources--and CA co-moderator, KT--recommends placing pant legs inside of socks. Also, contact a professional (do doctors or pharmacists deal with insecticides?) to find out what type of bug spray is best for you.
For more information on Goose Creek, or to check park hours (always important) go to www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/gocr/main.php
1. PCS Phosphate Mine Continuation DEIS (September 2006) Section 3.3.6, pg 3.24