Trails

Status of park trails

Park map (PDF)

Note: The table below can be sorted by length, difficulty, trail use, and accessibility. Click the corresponding header category to change the order of the trails. You can also use the search function to narrow down the list. Click the green plus sign in front of each trail to show the trail description. This table can also be downloaded as an Excel file.

Trail Name Blaze Length Difficulty Trail Use Accessible Description
Bird Trail red
circles
0.5-mile
loop
Moderate Hiking only No

One of the park's original trails, the Bird Trail joins the Galax Trail and takes hikers near another section of the park's cliffs along the Neuse River. Near this section of trail, the woods were occupied by both Union and Confederate soldiers in 1862 following the Battle of Whitehall (Seven Springs), and a number of pickets have been found on the park in more recent years.

This trail is accessed by hiking to the end of the 350-Yard Trail and then crossing the Mill Creek boardwalk. In the event of high water, hikers will need to follow the alternate trail sign to access the Lake Trail and then cross the lake spillway to access the Galax and Bird trails.

This trail has a natural surface.

Galax Trail blue
circles
0.5-mile
loop
Easy Hiking only No

This trail has been part of the park since it first opened in 1945. The trail's namesake, Galax urceolata, is a leathery green-leafed plant that grows low to the ground in moist forested areas. The plant was used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, and later, by settlers as ornamental.

The Galax Trail also features native wild ginger, as well as a wide array of hardwood species that include flowering dogwood (North Carolina's state flower); white oak and cherry bark oak; mockernut hickory; persimmon; and tulip poplar. Hikers will note that areas of the park with greater hardwood diversity feature greater populations of gray squirrels, while the areas with a more dominant longleaf pine component are home to a select number of eastern fox squirrels.

The trail can be accessed from the creek crossing on Mill Creek or from the spillway crossing on the Lake Trail. If high water has closed Mill Creek crossing, the spillway crossing remains passable.

This trail has a natural surface.

Lake Trail yellow
diamonds
1.9-mile
one way
Moderate Biking,
Hiking
No

This trail winds through a previously unused forested section of the park and provides a good look at many mature white oaks, in addition to a variety of other hardwoods. With fewer lobolly and longleaf pines, hikers may glimpse historics remnants of dead longleaf stumps that were used in the naval stores industry between 1750 and 1875. Hikers may also see white-tailed deer along the trail in the fall, during the peak of the hard mast acorn drop.

The trail begins at the visitor center parking lot and travels around the swim lake, before crossing the spillway on a series of stepping stones. It is exactly 1 mile to the wooden footbridge over a small creek. To complete the trip, hikers should follow the main path up to the swim lake parking lot and continue on the pavement back to the visitor center.

This 3-foot wide trail has a natural sand base that makes it ideal for hikers and joggers.

Old Wagon Path red
diamonds
0.4-mile
one way
Easy Hiking only No

This flat, easy trail connects hikers from the visitor center to the park's main feature, the 90-foot cliffs overlooking the Neuse River. True to its name, this trail follow a path historically used for wagons, likely for transporting goods as part of the naval stores industry.

The industry, active between 1750 and 1875, was the commercial harvest of the sap of the longleaf pine to produce tar, pitch, and turpentine. One of the park's oldest trees, a longleaf pine bearing the scars of naval stores harvest, still stands visible from the trail. Look for tree as you cross the campground entrance road. Hikers will also notice the evidence of prescribed burning to restore the forest's natural ecology.

The trail can be accessed from the overlook parking area or via the Longleaf Trail from the visitor center.

This trail has a natural surface and sand.

Longleaf Trail white
diamonds
0.4-mile
one way
Easy Biking,
Hiking
No

The Longleaf Trail is so named because it passes through the park's longleaf pine restoration area, a 75-acre section of mixed pine and hardwood that is treated to prescribed fire on regular intervals to foster the dominance of longleafs that were featured originally on the property.

Two of the park's oldest longleaf pines, used in the naval stores industry between 1750 and 1875, are still alive along this trail and feature the distinctive scarred bases from past pitch collection efforts. This section of the forest also displays red-cockaded woodpecker dens on several mature longleaf pines.

The trailhead is located at the visitor center parking lot, but it can also be accessed from the other end via the Sand Path near the group campsites.

This trail has a natural surface and sand.

Sand Path none 1.8-mile
one way
Moderate Biking,
Hiking
No

The Sand Path is a generations-old farm path that leads to the park's primitive group campsites. It travels into a mixed pine and hardwood forest and borders a longleaf restoration area of the park — offering great viewing opportunities for birders, due to the variety of habitats encountered and the secluded environment. It is also the best trail to spot eastern wild turkeys or eastern fox squirrels.

The trailhead is adjacent to the park's multiuse field off Park Road, in addition to being accessed via the group campground, offering almost 4-mile roundtrip hike to follow the entire trail and back.

Alternatively, beginning at the visitor center on the Longleaf Trail, following the Sand Path, then hiking the Spanish Moss Trail creates an almost 2-mile loop that ends up back at the visitor center.

This trail has a natural surface, sand and gravel.

Please note: this path is open to vehicular traffic for group campers, so be mindful of sharing the trail.

Spanish Moss Trail orange
circles
0.5-mile
loop
Moderate Hiking only No

The Spanish Moss Trail has been at the park since it opened in 1945. Though the namesake of the trail remains present in many trees along it, it is not as prolific as it once was, for reasons unknown.

But the highlight of this trail is a towering sweetgum that measures more than 36 inches at its base, one of the largest trees in the park. A series of steps leads from the cliff overlook down to the low grounds of the river, where they can view the massive tree, in addition to bottomland tree species like bald cypress and sycamore.

A trail spur on the river bottom then leads to a sandbar from which visitors may fish in the Neuse River.

The trail can be accessed from the overlook parking lot, or via the Sand Path and group campsites. Following the trail to the group campsites takes you to the Sand Path, which you can follow to the Longleaf Trail, then Old Wagon Path for a 2-mile loop from the outlook parking area.

This trail has a natural surface and stairs.

350-Yard Trail white
circles
0.2-mile
one way
Moderate Hiking only No

This is the park's shortest trail but remains the access to the park's signature natural feature: the 90-foot overlook that stands above a 90-degree turn in the Neuse River. For many years, this overlook was a major attraction for the residents of the Seven Springs area prior to the end of World War II, when the park was formed.

The trail begins and ends at the overlook parking lot, located at the end of Park Entrance Road. To fish in the Neuse River, visitors should follow this trail to its southern terminus on the river bank (follow the fish-shaped signs).

The section of the path adjacent to the cliff features a well-packed gravel base and is ideal for those with limited mobility and with mobility devices. However, please note that those who go to the trail's southern terminus will have a slightly arduous uphill hike back up.

Young children should be supervised closely on all sections of this trail due to the potential hazards of the cliff and the river.