Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

State Parks - Winter Getaways

Posted January 18, 2012

What is your favorite state park? What about your favorite state park in the winter? The state came out this week with a report on some dramatic visitation increases at our state parks in 2011. I am not surprised considering the health of the economy. Many folks stayed close to home and saved money.

I would like to suggest three state parks for the winter. I’ll begin with Pettigrew State Park in Creswell. Try to go before the end of the month so you can enjoy the migrating tundra swans and snow geese. It is both a haunting and glorious experience to see and hear the sounds of the wintering birds in Washington and Tyrrell counties.

I also recommend Fort Macon State Park near Morehead City in the winter. Maybe you will be fortunate to go on an unseasonably warm day allowing you to sit in a beach chair and read a book and listen to the crashing waves. I love walking on this beach in the winter. It can get awfully crowded in the summer.

For many of the same reasons Hammocks Beach State Park is Swansboro makes my winter destinations list. You can camp here in the winter and not worry about the mosquitoes. Make sure you have a warm sleeping bag. You will enjoy the canoe and kayak trail here.

What are your state park favorites in the winter and year-round?


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  • NCwhisperer... Jan 23, 2012

    If you want quiet and serene...not crowded and great trails...check out Medoc Mountain, very close to Raleigh but far enough not to hear noise. We have camping year round and are never crowded. Lovely winter or summer.

  • jeffdewitt Jan 22, 2012

    I think Raven Rock is my favorite. It's not crowded, has some great trails, and it's QUIET. I love Umstead but it's not exactly quiet with the airport and I-40 next to it. Raven Rock is so quiet that after my last hike there my hearing was actually better!

  • fishnett5977 Jan 21, 2012

    Bird Island on the far end of Sunset Beach is a really good get away this time of year. The beach goes on forever at low tide and you can always find shells of some sort. If youre lucky, maybe a whole sanddollar! Its beautiful quiet and the ones on the beach are either walking,riding or walking their dogs(on a leash of course!). And they are very respectful of others. Of course any beach, anytime of season is great with me! ;)

  • justuptonogood Jan 19, 2012

    Hanging Rock, Pilot Mountain, and Stone Mountain in the Flla or anytime of the year. Jockeys Ridge in the Summer.

  • wdwbmw Jan 18, 2012

    I love being at Jockey's Ridge. The view of the ocean on one side and the sound on the other is beautiful to me. When I was teaching, I would take my 8th graders to that area for a field trip. The last stop before heading home was Jockey's Ridge and you can believe that kids were ready to nap after an hour or so of running all over that big dune and even starting at the top and rolling all the way down.

  • blytle Jan 18, 2012

    I agree that Fort Macon State Park is a wonderful winter destination. Years ago, my family spent Christmas with a family who had a house in Beaufort. The weather was so warm that day that we took our Christmas dinner over to Fort Macon and had a picnic lunch!!

  • jchutch9 Jan 18, 2012

    It has been years since I have been to Raven Rock in the winter but there is something about the river there no matter what the season is. I think I need to schedule a trip there

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