15 Local Parks for Outdoor Escapes
The best quiet parks and trails in your NC townBy Joan Wenner
What is a cool and peaceful way to beat the heat and enjoy fresh air that doesn’t cost anything? A walk in a park, of course! And North Carolina has plenty of them. We found the best quiet parks and nature trails in 15 towns across the state. Here are a few serene spots (listed roughly from west to east) in areas predominantly served by North Carolina’s electric co-ops:
Barnard Park [map ] marks the start of the classic whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking section of the French Broad River. The fishing spot also features a walking loop and picnic tables.
Florence Mill Park [map ] downtown is newly created and named for the historic Florence Mill; joins the popular James F. Crowe Park [map ] on Cherry Mountain Street, which has several large shelters that can be reserved for special events.
Minutes from downtown, Salem Lake Park’s [map ] 365-acre lake is often referred to as “the diamond” of the city’s many parks. A 7-mile hiking trail offers scenic views of the lake. Quarry Park [map ] also has trails, seating and beautiful sightlines. Lockland Park [map ] features a shelter and playground.
Little Park [map ] has all manner of athletic facilities and a swimming pool, but its quiet Loop Trail is a manicured 1.7 miles through the woods that connects to Fox Squirrel Trail for a total of 3 miles of trails, named for the creatures you may spot. The Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge [map ] north of town is an expansive waterfowl habitat.
Park Street Park [map ] is less than an acre but offers a cozy wooded spot with picnic tables and grills; Bicentennial Park [map ] downtown features a fountain and a memory walk.
Cape Fear River Park’s 5-mile trail [map ] includes a boardwalk traversing marsh and wetlands; Cross Creek Linear Park [map ] is a winding greenway skirting downtown, winding through history sites. Cape Fear Botanical Garden (capefearbg.org) is a truly lovely setting, and a model railway will traverse the grounds through August 31. There’s an admission fee, but it’s worth it.
H.L. Miller Park [map ] offers 2 acres of wooded greenspace behind Wake Forest Town Hall. North of town, E. Carroll Joyner Park [map ], has 3 miles of paved walking trails around a pond, over creeks and through an old pecan grove. Restored farm structures include a log cabin, mule barn and tobacco barn.
Johnson Park [map ] has a gravel pathway, tree-shaded garden and grassy area; Burgaw Greenway Trail is a 2¾-mile loop along Osgood Canal connecting several wooded areas, including Pecan Park [map ] (in a pecan grove, with benches).
Wilson Bay Park [map ] offers visitors a covered gazebo and a walk by the water. Jacksonville Landing [map ] offers boat ramps, a boardwalk and greenspace along the New River at Buddy Phillips Bridge.
Jaycee Park [map ] is a waterfront space with benches and picnic tables. Take a break on a bench swing at Mitchell Village Community Park [map ] for views of Bogue Sound and endless boat- and bird-watching.
Gaze out at Pamlico Sound and enjoy cooling breezes from the southernmost community on Hatteras Island. Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative recommends the Sea Breeze Trail [map ] as a favorite serene and educational nature trail/park/walkway. The Buxton Woods Trail [map ], near Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, offers views of the ocean through tranquil maritime forest.
About the AuthorJoan Wenner, J.D., is a longtime writer presently residing in Pitt County. Comments are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More outdoor excursions in North Carolina