CARTERET COUNTY — One of the casualties wrought by Hurricane Florence more than two years ago was the Neusiok Hiking Trail, a 22-mile trail that runs through the Croatan Forest from the Neuse River at Pine Cliff Recreation Area to the Newport River near Mill Creek.
While most of the southern part of the trail was cleared fairly quickly, numerous downed trees, displaced and twisted boardwalks and eroded banks made for hazardous hiking on the section north of NC 306.
In order to open as much of the trail as possible, The Carteret County Wildlife Club organized two work sessions, one on Dec. 13 and a second on Jan. 10. A total of over 60 volunteers, working 5 or 6 hours each day, removed numerous trees that had fallen onto the path, repaired walkways and bridges – one of which had been broken into six dislocated sections by flood waters. They also cleared brush, replaced miles of lost or damaged trail markers and clearly marked the trail’s track across Duke Energy’s recently cut power line right-of-way through the forest near Mill Creek. Finally, they marked a new, temporary access just south of the Neuse River.
Now the entire trail is accessible except for the extreme northern section that runs along the river to Pine Cliff recreation area. This stretch suffered serious erosion and undercutting and will require rerouting before it can be safely opened. The club hopes this can happen in the next few months.
Wildlife Club President Gene Huntsman organized the two workdays and was extremely pleased with the results and response. Volunteers came from as far away as Cary and represented several organizations, including the Friends of the Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail, The New Bern Outdoor Adventure Club and the Boy Scouts of America, as well as club members and individuals who just wanted to help out.
The Carteret County Wildlife Club laid out the Neusiok Trail nearly 50 years ago and continues to work on its maintenance and improvements in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service. To date, the walkways and bridges, totaling over 3 miles, allow hikers to walk dry-shod over most wet spots on the trail. Three open-faced shelters spaced along the trail provide protection from rain – the middle one features hammock hanging posts installed as part of an Eagle Scout project.
The Carteret County Wildlife Club will continue to host trail workdays. Also, a lot of work can be done by individuals interested in small projects such as brush trimming or replacing trail markers. To sign up as a volunteer or for information on the trail or the club, visit the Carteret County Wildlife Club’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CCWCNC or call Gene Huntsman at 252-447-4061.