Top 5 North Carolina Parks to Explore this Summer

August 2, 2017

NC parks to explore

Living in North Carolina has so many perks – like our amazing state parks! Get active and explore these Top 5 North Carolina Parks this summer. North Carolina State Parks challenges you to hike, walk, bike, run, swim, paddle or roll 100 miles on our state’s trails and waterways before the end of 2017. Sign up today for the NC 100 Miles Challenge if you need an extra incentive to visit all these amazing parks.

1. William B. Umstead State Park

Divided into two sections, Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek, this 5,579-acre park is easily accessible from Interstate 40 and US 70 with 5,000 acres of gorgeous scenery waiting to be explored. There are more than 32 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, camp sites and plenty for nature lovers between the expanding cities of Raleigh, Cary, and Durham. Experience trails, lakes, canoeing, and scenic overlooks.

tree and river

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2. Eno River State Park

The Eno River flows near urban areas of Durham and Orange counties with five scattered public access areas. This park offers 24 miles of hiking trails, mature forests, historic structures, canoe launches and picnic areas.

Festival for the Eno

The Eno River Association was established in 1966 and played an important role in creating the park. As a part of its conservation role the group presents the annual Festival for the Eno to draw thousands of folks to the shaded banks on the Eno River to sing dance and make merry with great food and crafts all while learning about natural resource conservation and raising funds for land protection in the Eno River basin.

Eno River State Park bridge

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3. Hanging Rock State Park

With five waterfalls, a mountain, a lake, and rock outcroppings at 2,580 ft., Hanging Rock State Park is a must see. Go swimming in the cool mountain lake nestled in the hills, rent a canoe and hike the more than 20 miles of hiking trails that climb onto spectacular views and weave alongside clear streams and waterfalls. Picnic areas and campgrounds lend themselves to time spent with family and friends in this 8,000 acre park in Stokes County.

hanging rock state park

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4. Fort Macon State Park

Located on Bogue Banks near Atlantic Beach, the park opened in 1936. Fort Macon State Park is the second most visited state park in North Carolina, with an annual visitation of 1.3 million, despite being one of the smallest state parks in North Carolina with only 423 acres. The Battle of Fort Macon was fought there during March and April 1862.

In addition to the perfectly restored Civil War-era fort, the park offers visitors a museum-quality coastal education center, nature trails and an unspoiled shoreline for swimming, surf fishing and beachcombing.

fort macon state park

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5. Jordan Lake State Park

This 14,000 acre reservoir outside of Raleigh is a great getaway. More than 1,000 campsites among five of the access areas offer a range of outdoor experiences. There are seven swim beaches in the recreation area and a number of boating ramps. Nearly 14 miles of hiking trails wind across the hilly lakeshore, with most of them offering easy, brief hikes. The park is also home to bald eagles. Find out more in this Park Fact Sheet from NC State Parks.

jordan lake state park

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