One of my life goals is to visit every state park in North Carolina. Our beautiful state has 42 state parks stretching from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks. I’ve visited several parks in the coastal plains region where we live but still have so many more to go!
My favorite thing about visiting state parks is that it is free! That’s huge when you’re a family of seven. I also love that there are park rangers available to help or to answer questions and there are always activities and events going on.
I recently took my kids to a local state park that we had not visited before. Cliffs of the Neuse State Park is about an hour from our home. It is located in Seven Springs which is southeast of Raleigh. The cliffs are the highest cliffs in the North Carolina coastal plain reaching about 90 feet from the river to the top of the bluffs.
There is a lot of interesting history in Seven Springs. Apparently people used to drink water from the seven springs and they claimed that the water cured various ailments–a different ailment from each spring! It was also a well known place for making moonshine as well as tar, pitch, rosin, and turpentine. There also used to be a grain mill along Mill Creek and a federally-operated whiskey still on Still Creek.
We started our adventure at the visitor’s center. I was very impressed with the kids area! It was like a mini-kids’ museum. We had fun learning about fossils and scat. The boys loved fishing in the little boat and all of the kids enjoyed the guess the animal blind boxes–I’ll admit I couldn’t even put my hand in the snake box! One touch of that fake snake and I thought I was going to pass out. We spent a lot of time playing there before going on our hike.
There are six hiking trails at the park and all of them are under two miles long making it a great place to hike with kids. We ended up on the Bird Trail which is about 0.5 miles long. It was a bit of a downhill hike to get to the trailhead which starts right beside the Neuse River.
The kids loved the trail! There were several streams to cross, little bridges and walkways, and lots of downed trees to play on.
We took our time and walked slowly so Alex and his little legs could keep up. He did really well and didn’t start whining until we were almost done! The promise of snacks kept him going and I didn’t have to piggy-back him until the last couple minutes. It’s pretty common for him to end up on my back at some point during our hikes!
We stopped and had a snack by the river on our way out and the girls drew in their nature sketch books.
Before we left, we drove down to the camping area to scope it out and pick out which camping site we would like to rent and then we went and explored down by the lake. The lake is open for swimming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They offer kayak, canoe, peddleboat, and paddleboard rentals during that time as well at a very reasonable price. They also have a bathhouse you can pay to use and a snack bar. It reminds me of something you would see in an old movie from the 60’s. Very Dirty Dancing-esque.
We had so much fun and the girls are really excited about visiting the park again and camping for a couple of nights!