Tag Archives: Neusiok

Neusiok Trail Report

I paid a visit to the Neusiok Trail a couple days ago. Starting at the trailhead at the Pine Cliff Recreation Area, I hiked to the Copperhead Landing camping shelter and back. That’s roughly a 7 mile round trip. I was thrilled to see tha the Forest Service and volunteers such as the Carteret County Wildlife Club had done a wonderful job of clearing the trail from downed trees, rerouting the trail where needed and replacing missing blazes. The Neusiok Trail has been restored to one of the primier outdoor opportunities along the crystal coast.

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Autumn Hold Out

I visited the Pine Cliff section of the Neusiok Trail yesterday afternoon. It’s really amazing to see how hurricane Irene resculpted the landscape along that section of trail. While I have hiked a portion of the trail since the hurricane, I pushed further yesterday than I had before. Long sections of the trail that ran along the top of a bluff are now gone. Washed away into the river. In places you can find remnants of boats, broken and scattered amoungst the trees. It truely is astounding to see the power that nature has. While on the hike I noticed several hold-outs from autumn. There are still a few bright red and yellow leaves hanging on. While taking a detour from the old trail… since there wasn’t really a choice… and taking the beach for a ways I came across an old weathered Cypress tree laying on it’s side. I liked the textures of the wood and knew I wanted to make a photo using it. On the return trip I stopped and placed a red leaf on the log for a bit of photography. Below area a couple of the resulting images.

A hold-out from autumn, a bright red leaf rests on a weathered piece of dead-wood.

A red leaf on an old and weathered log.

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Fungus Among Us (I Know… an Old Pun)

I took a little hike along a section of the Neusiok Trail the other morning… specifically the section from NC 306 and heading towards the Pine Cliff Recreation Area. I turned just a little before reaching the shelter along Cahooque Creek… roughly a four mile round trip. It’s an interesting stretch of trail with a lot more decidious trees that I’m used to seeing around here. The one exception to that being the Island Creek Forest Walk trail, but that’s a topic for another day.

So far there’s not a lot of autumn color showing-up along the Crystal Coast. Perhaps in another week or two. There were, however, a variety of mushrooms growning and the side of the trail. Seemed like a good time to give my 100mm, f/2.8 macro lens a bit of a workout. The following are a few of my favorites from the hike.

A mushroom surrounded by pine cones in the Croatan National Forest.

This photo is kind of fun as it looks like the larger mushroom is sheltering the smaller one.

Three mushrooms grow along the Neusiok Trail, Coastal Carolina.

Wild mushroom and pine cones.

Two mushrooms in the Croatan National Forest.

A mushroom peeks out from beneath the leaves.

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Dead Leaves Can Be Interesting Subjects

While hiking a portion of the Neusiok Trail this morning I came across some pools of yellowish water covering some dead, rotting leaves. The smell coming from the puddles was less than pleasant and the leaves were covered with a white substance… probably part of the decaying process. I thought the pattern, color and texture was interesting so made an image. I don’t know about you but I think it works.

Dead leaves can be an interesting subject for macro photographers.

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Cabin Fever and Looking Forward to Spring

The weather has simply been terrible lately. Combine that with a fairly full schedule and I’m finding myself suffering from a major case of cabin fever. It’s been so wet here lately that even setting-up in the backyard to photogrpah birds around the feeder is a challenge. It would take very little activity to turn my yard into a mud bog! But at least there’s plenty of time to dream and to plan the adventures that will come with Spring.

One thing I’m looking forward to when warmer weather arrives is doing a bit of kayaking. There are some very wonderful natural areas around the Crystal Coast, but many of them are only accessible by water. The kayak will allow me to explore some areas that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. One advantage of a kayak, or so I’m told by those that use them for wildlife photography, is that birds and animals aren’t as skittish of kayakers as they are hikers. Most of the things that threaten them in the wild come from the land, not the water. Another advantage is that a kayak sits you closer to the surface of the water… that gives you a lower angle of view in your photos. And, of course, it’s a fairly quiet way of approaching wildlife, unlike a skiff with its outboard motor. It should be fun.

In selecting a kayak with photography in mind I probably made a pest of myself on a few of the nature forums. I asked a lot of questions of folks with experience… possibly to the point of being annoying. But it is so easy to spend money poorly when setting-out in a new direction and I really wanted to make a sound decision. From my research I decided that I wanted a “recreational” rated boat, as it would likely be a bit more stable. (For some reason camera gear and baths don’t mix well!) This style of boat also tends to have a larger cockpit making it easier to shoot from. I also learned that there is some advantage to length. The longer boats tend to move through the water faster, easier, straighter and require a bit less effort to paddle. While I started out looking at 10 foot boats I ended up with a 12 footer. I settled on a Prodigy 12.0 by Perception. The three boats I was most interested in were the Prodigy, the Pamlico or Pungo by Wilderness Systems, and the Dirigo by Old Town. I suspect any of the three would have met my requirements.

Since this is a new endeavor for me I wanted to keep things as economic as possible. Anytime embarking on some new outdoor activity there’s a real possibility of finding it’s not what one thought it would be! As such I shopped around for a used boat. Many times kayaking outfitters will sell off their rental boats during the off-season. These kinds of purchases can save one a bit of money. I ended up buying a rental program boat from Paddle Creek, Wake Forest, NC. I found them to be very friendly and helpful throughout the process.

So here I sit, daydreaming of adventures to come. As warm weather arrives I hope to provide some reports, and imagery of course, from places like the White Oak River, Newport River, Back Sound, Shakleford Banks, Rachael Carson Estuarine perserve and other wet and wild places around the Crystal Coast. Since I really don’t have an image taken from a kayak yet, but it wouldn’t feel right to make a post without a photo, how about a nice symbol of Spring? Taken recently along the Neusiok Trail near the Pine Cliff recreation area, an Eastern Bluebird… certainly a creature of the spring in my mind.

An Eastern Bluebird rests on a sunny branch along the Neusiok Trail near Cherry Branch, North Carolina.

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Neusiok Trail: Mill Creek Road to Oyster Point

As I’ve mentioned before the Neusiok Trail section along the Neuse river is my favorite section however, the section that crosses Mill Creek road and leads to the Newport river is a close second. The portion that I enjoy runs from a bit beyond the Blackjack Lodge, crosses Millcreek Road, and terminates at Oyster Point on the Newport River. Unfortunately, unless one has come down the Neusiok from further above, or back tracks up to the shelter and back, it’s not a convenient day hike. From the road to Oyster point, however, the trail runs 1.7 miles and makes a nice hike. By using the gravel road that runs back to the adjacent campground you can enjoy a nice loop through the Croatan Forest. Look for song birds, raptors, wild flowers, deer and fox along the trail.

This sign marks the trailhead near the Newport River. Oyster Point is a 1.7 mile hike from Mill Creek Road.

A foot bridge has been washed sideways at a trail crossing point. A hand pump provides access to feshwater at the three camping shelters along the Neusiok Trail.

Three shelters exist along the trail to provide camping areas for backpackers.  The Blackjack Lodge is  about 2.5 miles before the southern most end of the Neusiok Trail.

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Pinecliff Recreation Area, Croatan Forest: Neusiok Trail

The Pincliff Recreation area is located on the Neuse river, near the Cherry Branch ferry terminal. Part of the Croatan National Forest, it is the location of the northern most trail-head of the Neusiok Trail. It is, in my personal opinion, the prettyest section of the trail. Here the trail parallels the river for about 1.8 miles before cutting into the forest towards it’s Newport River terminous, 21 miles away. From the perspective of someone that enjoys avian and wildlife photography it is not the most productive location in the area, but there are almost always a few opportunities to take a shot. Common sightings include Red Headed woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Cardinals and other small birds. The occasional Belted Kingfisher and various shore birds can also be seen. Early spring through early fall Osprey are usually present. On one occassion I did watch a Bald Eagle fly over, though I haven’t seen it since and have no idea if it has a home in the area. Photographers into shoot landscapes or taking macro images will find this a very productive area. It’s also a great hike for nature enthusiasts.

A Red Headed Woodpecker along the Neuse river. Swamps and cypress trees area commong along this stretch of the Neusiok trail.

A squirrel with a nut enjoys a pretty fall day along the Neusiok trail near the Pinecliff Recreation area. Mushrooms, wildflowers and other interesting objects make interesting subjects for macro photographers.

A shorebird explores the edge of the Neuse river.

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