New trail, bathhouse reconstruction at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

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Cliffs of the Neuse State Park announced a brand-new trail has been added to its grounds.

“The Old Wagon Path” is officially open. Signs marking the trail were installed Tuesday, July 30. The new trail runs parallel to Park Entrance Road and connects to the Longleaf Trail and to the Overlook Parking lot. The path is just shy of a half mile. This flat trail is wide enough for several people to walk side by side and is a fast pace trail for those looking for an easy run.

The trail is actually a historic wagon path from the days when the park was a Longleaf Pine Plantation. Sap would be harvested from the trees and collected in buckets to be used to make turpentine. Rather than tote heavy buckets of sap out of the woods, a network of paths was created to bring wagons closer to the harvest sites.

Keep an eye out for evidence of “cat face” trees while on the trail. These are trees that still show the scars created by slashing through their bark to get to the sap.

The reconstruction of the family campground bathhouse is currently underway. The foundation is set, walls are up and trusses are up. The building is taking shape and the tiling is being installed. The bathhouse is expected to be open in the fall. In the meantime, the primitive campground is still open. The primitive sites offer pit toilets, a picnic table and campfire ring. There is no running water, but the sites do offer the opportunity to enjoy the quiet of the woods and the chance to try your hand at “roughing it.” The park’s closest neighboring campgrounds are in Seven Springs, behind Neuse River Trading and at Neuseway Park in Kinston.

Upcoming events include the following

Nature explorers

Wednesday, Aug. 21, 10 a.m.

Bring the little ones out for a morning of exploring. Starting in May, every first and third Wednesday of the month join a ranger at 10 a.m. for a short story followed by a Nature Adventure. Activities will vary and will relate to the story read that week. This is a free program, but registration is required. Call the office at 919-778-6234 to register. Participants must be at least 3 years old.

Movie night (PG rated)

Friday, Aug. 23, 8-10 p.m.

Join a ranger for a movie at the swim lake. Free event; bring your own snacks. The lawn may be wet, so bring a camp chair. The park gates will be closed while the movie is playing. This program will be canceled in the event of rain or cold weather. Call ahead to check if the weather is questionable.

Fashion a Fish

Saturday, Aug. 24, 10 a.m.

Ever wonder what you might catch in the Neuse River? Is it safe to eat? Join a ranger for a fishy craft. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Did you know?

Each year North Carolina State Parks select a new theme to be celebrated throughout the year. This year, 2019, has been deemed “Year of the Snake”. Snakes are incredible, sometimes misunderstood animals. They come in many different sizes, ranging from only a few inches to more than 6 feet. If you keep a watchful eye out you can find them living in forests, grasslands, in the water and underground.

Have you ever seen a snake at Cliffs of the Neuse?

While snakes get a bad reputation from many pieces of literature and fables, they provide beneficial services to the ecosystem. Snakes help control the population of their prey, including disease carrying insects and rodents. Just one snake can protect your house from a mouse invasion. Snakes also play a part in providing food for predators like hawks, herons, raccoons, coyotes, and even other snakes.

Lucky hikers may spot a snake in the park along the trail, lake, and river. But never fear, when they see you watching they will either remain still (hoping you go away), try to hide, or flee. A snake will not attempt to attack or bite a person unless cornered and unable to escape. If you see a snake in the park, do not disturb it. Admire it from a distance as it goes about its day. Remember snakes are not aggressive; they are defensive, meaning they will not strike unless they feel threatened.

Several species of snakes are common in the park. The Black Racer is a sleek, fast snake, whose entire body is dark black except for white under its chin. If you’re exploring and turning over rotting logs you may discover the Worm Snake, which as its name suggests, looks like an earthworm. The park is also home to a variety of Rat Snakes which are large, thick bodied and can be colored olive green with black stripes running from head to tail or solid black with checkerboard bellies. Near the water the Banded, Brown, and Redbelly water snakes may be seen basking on logs or hunting for fish.

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