From Chimney to Cliffs

Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock

Last week, I went from Chimney Rock State Park in the mountains to Cliffs of the Neuse State Park in the Coastal Plains of North Carolina in two days. This is such a diverse state.

Chimney Rock SP is well known for its 315-foot towering spire. Since the elevator is out of service, I took the stairs up to the top. As you can imagine, not too many people were up there with  me. I walked a few other trails before I joined other outdoor writers for Writers on the Rock.

Two days later, I found myself in Seven Springs, NC about 15 miles from Goldsboro at Cliffs of the Neuse. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this park. I was checking out this park for its role on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

After the MST leaves Raleigh, it goes south where  you can consider two options: paddle the Neuse River or walk the Coastal Crescent route. The Neuse is a slow, easy going river where you can let your thoughts wander.

The Neuse Ri ver from the Cliffs
The Neuse Ri ver from the Cliffs

Should you decide to paddle (you, not me. I like my feet firmly on the ground.), you’ll go past Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, located in Seven Springs, close to Goldsboro in the Coastal Plains. True to its name, the forces of erosion have chiseled cliffs in the south bank of the River. The cliffs rise 90 feet above the water and extend about a third of a mile.

If you’re paddling, you can stop in the park, tie up your boat and scramble up to the banks to  enjoy the amenities of the park including a picnic pavilion and a campground.

I spent a short afternoon exploring the park on foot. For a mountain hiker, it was a completely different terrain and fauna. I started on the Longleaf Trail, which actually has longleaf pines.

These trees had such an important role in naval stores, tar, pitch and turpentine needed for wooden sailing ships. Once steam engines came in, longleaf pines were cut down to make way for faster-growing loblolly pines.

Neuse River
Neuse River

I continued on the walking loop through flood plains and ravines to the cliffs. The park has built a wooden guardrail, so no one can scramble down to the river. Eventually, I got to the lake with a nice sandy beach but I hadn’t taken a bathing suit.

The park only has a few miles of trail because the Neuse River is the star attraction. The park isn’t worth a trip from anywhere, but if you find yourself around Goldsboro, stop in and see the cliffs.

 

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