Nature July 20, 2017
The North Carolina Park That Will Make You Feel Like You Walked Into A Fairy Tale
When one thinks fairytales, we think a world that mirrors our own but different in the most interesting way. Twisted trees shadowing moss-covered trails, wildlife darting past or peeping from a tall branch, waterway canals with Spanish moss draping the water, Bald Cypress Trees looming like giants and reptiles dipping in and out of the water; while the description provided sounds more like a landscape from a Grimms’ Fairy Tale, it actually exists in Gatesville.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
Located in northeastern North Carolina, Merchants Millpond State Park is 3,447-acres of swamp and hardwood forests. Home to Lassiter Swamp, a popular way to explore the park is by canoe or kayak. The combination of coastal pond and southern swamp forest create one of the rarest ecological environments found in the state.
Merchants Millpond is home to assorted wildlife, notably the alligators seen floating about in the swamp. Mink, otter, and bobcats are sometimes spotted roaming the forest. There's also over 200 species of birds ranging from woodpeckers, red-shouldered hawks, egrets, turkeys and owls. Different seasons bring different wildlife. In the winter, waterfowl stop by after a long journey. Spring and summer rain bring an abundance of frogs. Year-round, visitors enjoy the numerous amount of turtles (called cooters or sliders) sunbathing on logs or sometimes hitching a ride atop an unsuspecting alligator. You might even see a snapping turtle or two.
The park is home to 9-miles of hiking trails weaving you through the enchanted landscape. Popular trails include Bennetts Creek Trail, Lassiter Trail, Coleman Trail and Cypress Point Trail. There's easy-access camping and also remote camp sites accessible by canoe. There's also quick picnic sites beside scenic vistas if you're just stopping through.
Many come to Merchants Millpond for the unique ecological environment. This natural sanctuary is home to luxurious Spanish Moss, resurrection ferns and an unspoiled wilderness. Described as an "enchanted forest" towering bald cypress adds a pathway for canoes while mistletoe has shaped and molded the branches of the tupelo gum tree into twisting caricatures that seem to take on their own persona.
For many, the best way to explore the park is to navigate by water. While some bring their own canoes or kayaks, there's also rentals provided. On your journey, you can glide along the surface of the acidic water, most of which is covered with various aquatic plants like a red and green layer of floating duckweed, water fern, or yellow cow lily.
From winding through the water, to encountering wildlife, canoeing to primitive hideaways, or simply getting lost in nature; Merchants Millpond is a dream-to-life place. In such solitude, it seems you're living more inside a storybook than an actual place.
This place is breathtaking and one of the best-kept secrets in terms of North Carolina State Parks, have you visited here before?
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