Goose Creek State Park

Goose Creek State Park is a 1,672-acre park in Beaufort County, North Carolina. It is near Washington and just off of Pamlico Sound. The park offers a habitat for many wildlife species. There are inlets, creeks and extensive salt water marshes in the park.

The land in the Goose Creek State Park region is rich with natural resources. It has provided for its inhabitants from as early as the 16th century.

History

Two Eastern Woodlands tribes are the first recorded inhabitants in the region. These tribes are the Secota and the Pamlico. They fell to widespread disease that was brought to the area by settlers from Europe. Those that survived the disease fell victim to the Tuscarora War. They were killed or driven off between 1711 and 1715.

The area was frequented by pirates. Famous pirates like Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet were in the region. They would steal from ships that passed by.

The pirate era ended to bring the region some commercial use. Some of the commercial activities that take place in the area include;

· Timber production

· Commercial fishing

· Small-scale and subsistence farming

Lumber companies acquired large tracts of land in the area. They harvested huge numbers of longleaf pine and old growth bald cypress. Effects of this period is still visible today. There are remains of loading docks and piers all over Goose Creek State Park.

The lumber companies left the land and Beaufort County citizens wanted to protect it. They wanted to place the park under North Carolina state law. The state was looking for land in the region to establish a park. 1,208 acres of land were purchased by the state and the park opened in September 1974.

Ecology

There are many plant and animal species at the park. It offers various habitat options in the Pamlico River. There are tall grasses that are nesting sites for wading birds. The bird species include;

· Rails

· Herons

· Marsh wren

· Egrets

There are swamps inhabited by red cedar, loblolly pine and bald cypress trees. Animals that live in the swap include;

· Barred owls

· Frogs

· Turtles

· Snakes

· Minks

· Muskrats

· Turkeys

· Raccoons

· White-tailed deer

· Bobcats

· Black bear

· Gray foxes

The waters receive migratory birds like

· Tundra swans

· Canada geese

· Bufflehead

· Mallard

· Wood ducks

Trails

Goose Creek has eight miles of hiking trails. They go through the estuarine regions of the park. The trails are;

1. Flatty Creek Trail

This starts halfway through the primitive campground. It starts off at Goose Creek Trail.

Over the wetlands, it has short boardwalk stretches. The trail meanders through an upland forest. It is on a natural surface except for the boardwalks and is 0.3 miles long.

2. Goose Creek Trail

The trail starts at the campground to the Pamlico riverfront. There are boardwalks through cypress and black gum swamps. It is an easy 2 mile walk.

3. Huckleberry Trail

This trail connects Live Oak Trail to Mallard Creek Trail. There are patches of huckleberries all over the trail. It is an easy hike of 0.2 miles.

4. Ivey Gut Trail

This is between the Main Road and Goose Creek. It is 1.8 miles long and winds through the forest. You can catch glimpses of Upper Goose Creek as you walk through the trees.

5. Live Oak Trail

This trail is between the Main Road and the Pamlico River. There are love oaks covered in Spanish moss. You will walk along the shores of the Pamlico River then turn inland. It is an easy hike of 0.3 miles.

Camping and Hiking

Goose Creek State Park has a campground suitable for all camping needs. The campground is on a piece of land between Flatty Creek and Goose Creek. The site is in a grove of longleaf pines. The trees are covered with Spanish moss. There are twelve tent sites on the grove.

Hiking is carried out on the trails.

Boating and Fishing

There is a boat ramp at Dinah’s Landing. It is to the west of Goose Creek. Activities available include;

· Motor boating

· Sailing

· Windsurfing

Water access rules are provided by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission. Visitors need to bring their canoes if they wish to explore the creeks. Canoeing allows a unique view of species of wading birds in the park’s streams.

Fishing is allowed in the park. Popular fish species in the waters are;

· White and yellow perch

· Largemouth bass

· Bluegill

Exhibits

The park displays educational material in the environmental education and visitor center. The exhibits offer in depth information about natural wetlands of the world. Birds in flight are mounted overhead along the corridor. The center plays sounds of wetland animals to give it a feeling of being right in the middle of a wetland.

There is a 5-minute film that introduces visitors to the park and its species. It helps visitors to learn more about the plants and animals they are to find at the park.

There is a bird observation station at the Discovery Room. There is also a great view of the bird feeders. The park encourages hands-on learning.

Permits

There are two types of permits required at the park.

1. Event Permits

These are necessary for various events, including;

· Weddings

· Athletic contests

· Company parties

The permit can be acquired by downloading a Special Activity Permit application. You can also find one at the park office.

2. Research and collection permits

All projects that involve collecting, removing or disturbing park resources need permits. Projects that need monitoring equipment at the park also need permits.

There are research and collection permits offered at the park. The application can also be filled online.

No entrance fees are charged at the Goose Creek State Park. Each park visitor needs to abide by the park rules. For those interested in fishing, you will need state fishing licenses. Regulations are set by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Marine Fisheries. All fishermen need to adhere to these regulations.

There are eight miles of trails and numerous species to be enjoyed at Goose Creek. Visitors are taken through a surreal environment of wetland and nature. There are many activities to keep people of all ages occupied.