Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

New River State Park, N.C.

While on vacation the week of June 29, Chris and I took a day trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway, visiting Doughton State Park and Moses H. Cone Memorial Park in North Carolina.

On our way home, we discovered North Carolina had its own New River State Park. Virginia’s New River State Park and Trail is a 57 mile long biking, hiking and horse trail. We’ve walked on most of the Virginia trail and were happy to discover more recreational possibilities along the New.

So we took off yesterday toward North Carolina to explore this new park. The main access and visitors’ center is located off of U.S. 221 in Ashe County. There are two other access points accessible by car located off of Wagoner Road and Kings Creek Road, following signs from U.S. 16.

Other access points are only accessible via canoe, including the Alleghany County Access area.

The park is divided into four areas, offering 2,200 acres of camping, fishing, canoeing, hiking and picnicking.

We explored the U.S. 221 access area where several campers and canoers were taking advantage of the weather.

Chris points to some canoers approaching the portage at the U.S. 221 access area.

The U.S. 221 access area has just completed a drive-in, RV camping area. It offers little shade right now, but does have nice gravel pads with fire rings and a hotwater bathhouse close by.

The visitors’ center and ranger station is located next to this camping area. It’s opened 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, but Christmas Day.

Tent camping is located next to the river and is accessed by walking 250 yards from a parking lot located near the boat portage area. I counted 16 sites, perfectly shaded with gravel pads and firerings. All were full.

A hotwater bathhouse and large picnic area were located nearby.

I would love to camp here. I’d enjoy listening to the river rush by and to the birds singing across the river and in the woods behind the camp sites. We heard several birds, including an owl across the river.

The U.S. 221 access offers a mile long loop trail called Hickory Trail. It features oak, hickory, laurel, rhododendron, joe pye weed, blackeyed susans, daisies, blackberries and swamp milkweed. It’s a moderate trail so should be fairly easy for most outdoor enthusiasts.

Swamp milkweed was in bloom along the Hickory Trail.Some of the milkweed was 5 feet tall, the largest I’ve ever seen!

Lots of jewelweed (a.k.a. touch-me-not) lined the path to the primitive campsites next to the New River.
We think this is wild basil, although our wildflower texts say it’s usually more pink. There were some pink spots on these flowers, although you can’t see them here since the picture isn’t that clear.
There was plenty of wildlife around too. We saw dragonflies and morning cloak, wood nymph and frittilary butterflies.
There was also a bright blue bird, most likely an indigo bunting, and deer. Although indigo buntings are actually black, sunlight makes the birds feathers look bright blue.

This little bunny was resting at the edge of the parking lot at the U.S. 221 access portage.

You could see hellbenders, a salamaner that can grow as large as 2 feet long, along the edge of the New. The hellbenders’ habitat is threatened, so if you see this aquatic creature, its best to leave it alone. We didn’t see one, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

The New River State Park also offers a community building and a covered picnic area for those looking to rent facilities for gatherings.

For more information, visit the park’s Web site or contact the park at (336) 982-2587 or new.river@ncmail.net.

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