The Croatan National Forest is mysterious, magnificent, and an escape when you need to clear your head. It's a wonderful place to walk in the woods, bike, camp, hike, hunt, observe wildlife, picnic and enjoy the great outdoors.
So much to see and do
The Croatan's claim to fame is the National Forest with the largest population of carnivorous plants (Venus fly-traps, sundews and pitcher plants) in the country. You can also find wild berries, medicinal plants, beautiful flowers and enormous trees.
Interested in the wildlife? The forest is home to alligators, bald eagles, bats, beavers, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, cranes, ducks, egrets, geese, hawks, minks, osprey, owls, peregrine falcons, pheasants, pileated woodpeckers, possum, quail, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, white-tail deer, wild turkey and hundreds of other species.
Boaters and fishermen enjoy the large Trent and Neuse Rivers, tidal rivers, saltwater estuaries, swamps, lakes, small tributaries and creeks.
You never know what you'll find in this vast forest. While on a turkey hunting trip with my sister, we discovered two large gravestones with foot markers in the middle of nowhere. They were undisturbed by human interaction. We actually camped about 60 feet from the "family graveyard" which dated back to the 1830s. The graves were occupied by a North Carolina Militia General and his second wife, surrounded by their family.
Bring the kids!
One thing that I haven't noticed in the Croatan is many people with children, which may have something to do with the impact modern technology like computers and video games have on today's youth. Some would rather spend the day in an air conditioned house than spend it discovering nature. It scares me to think about the impact this will have on our country's future environmental health.
Next time you're looking for something to do in your spare time, spray yourself and/or your kids with insect or natural oil repellent, bring your camera and venture out into this great forest. You may be very surprised how the sounds and sights of the forest will consume your thoughts instead of the nagging stressors that affect your everyday life.
For more information about the Croatan National Forest, please visit the Ranger Station located off Highway 70 East at 141 E. Fisher Ave., New Bern, N.C. — or call them at 252-638-5628. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Forest website
for brochures, recreational maps and more information. Enjoy your visit to the Croatan National Forest!
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Photo: Wendy Card