Neusiok Trail Guide
The Neusiok Trail is located in the Croatan National Forest in eastern North Carolina. The northern trailhead is located at Pine Cliffs Recreation area (on the Neuse River) and the southern trailhead is located at Oyster Point Campground (on the Newport River). In its 21 mile course, the Neusiok trail traverses pine savannahs, blackwater swamps and the sandy beachs along the Neuse River. Although the official length is 20.9 miles, the measured distance is a tad bit longer. Trail re-routes, detours, etc will continue to change the overall length in the future.
This guide is presented in a southbound direction.
Section 1: Pine Cluffs to NC 306 Parking Area
While the entire section is interesting, the section from Pine Cliffs to NC 306 is exceptionally scenic. For the first mile, the trail follows the sandy beaches on the south shore of the Neuse River. Occasionally, the trail takes an inland jog, mostly to accommodate horses, but you may continue to hike along the beach. Do watch out for the occasional bald cyprus knees which have been known to trip up a hiker or two! After a little over a mile, the trail heads up a small bluff as it leaves the comfortable sands of the Neuse River beach. On the map, the beach section is marked by the white line.
ALERT! The bluff/beach junction is marked, but may be easily missed if you are not paying attention. You can always backtrack if you miss this turnoff
The trail continues to parallel the Neuse River along the woodland bluffs for another 0.6 miles before turning away from the River. In the next few miles, the trail crosses several ridges and creeks. The larger creeks are crossed with the assistance of boardwalks. You will reach the spur to Copperhead Shelther in another 2.6 miles. The trail continues to parallel the Neuse tributary on the right for another 2 miles, after which you climb out of the drainage and onto higher ground. This section is complete when you reach NC 306 approximately 3 miles from Copperhead Landing.
Section 1: Pine Cliff Recrational Area to NC 306
Distance: 6.8 miles
Section 2: NC 306 Parking area to Dogwood Camp
There is a parking area at NC 306. The next section from NC 306 to NC 101 is one of the wetter sections of the trail. Fortunately, over the last few years, boardwalks have been built to assist the crossing. Even with the boardwalks, there are still soggy sections, so definitely wear proper footwear! The yellow highlighted areas indicate boardwalks. The 2 boardwalks immediately north of NC 101 are the longest, with the latter totaling almost 4/10th of a mile. The trail reaches NC 101 in approximately 2.9 miles. South of NC 101, the Neusiok traverses coastal pine savannahs. The trail is mostly dry here, though there are still a few mucky crossings. Reach Dogwood Camp in approximately 3.5 miles (or 0.6 miles south of NC 101). Unlike NC 306, there is no developed parking area on NC101, but the shoulder is wide enough if you dare park your vehicle here!
Dogwood camp is quite nice, and due to the location is quite popular as an overnight stop.
Section 2 : NC 306 to Dogwood Camp
Distance: 3.5 miles
Section 3: Dogwood Camp to FR 169 split
South of Dogwood Camp, the trail continues to cross mostly pine savannahs, though there is a swampy passage just south of the camp. It is my experience that this is one of the soggier sections of the trail, so be patient during wetter times. Reach dry ground when you hit FR 147 in 2.7 miles.
For the next 2+ miles, the Neusiok Trail follows gravel Forest Service Roads. These roads are remote, so trail users won't encounter too much vehicular traffic. However, don't be surprised if you see an occasional vehicle or two!
Section 3: Dogwood Camp to FR 169 junction
Distance: 4.9 miles
Section 4 : FR 169 to Blackjack Lodge
The trail leaves FR169 to the left. A small boardwalk assists hikers in crossing the roadside canal. After leaving the road, the trail enters a jungle of thick brushy growth that is typical of the Croatan National Forest. Most of the times, the trail will be cleared, but if it has not been cleared recently, passage may be slow. The only sign of civilization will be crossing FR 124 in 2.6 miles. South of FR 124, the trail follows an old logging road and is straight as an arrow for a while. The forest will transition between thick brush and pine savannah. Reach Blackjack Lodge in an additional 1.7 miles.
Section 4: FR 169 to Blackjack Lodge
Distance:: 4.3 miles
Secton 5 : Blackjack Lodge to Oyster Point
Blackjack Lodge is the final shelter encountered on the Neusiok Trail. A short stroll of 0.7 miles through pine savannahs brings you to SR1154, the first paved road south of NC101. From here the trail follows an estuaray of the Newport River to Oyster Point. About 1/3 of the way to Oyster Point, the trail follows FR181 (the road to Oyster Point) for several hundred feet. After 1.7 miles you come out at the Oyster Point campground.
Section 5: Blackjack Lodge to Oyster Point TH
Distance: 2.4 miles
I hope that you find this guide useful. I am publishing this information because there is little information about this trail available on the internet. Please understand that the above guide is provided for general information only and IS NOT INTENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PREPARATION! These maps SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR NAVIGATIONAL PURPOSES! Know your own abilities! Even though the trail does not have significant elevation gain, DO NOT ASSUME that you can hike fast! After all, muddy sections and occasional route finding may add significant time to your hike! This article may not be reproduced or redistributed without the author's permission. ABSOLUTELY NO COMMERCIAL USE PERMITTED. I'm not profitting from this information, so you shouldn't either!
During hunting season, take proper precautions such as wearing blaze orange!