NC Parks and Forests

Here are some resources to help you get out and enjoy our great North Carolina forests, parks and wilderness areas!

NC State Parks

NC Parks Resources


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NC Parks System

State Lakes: Chapter 165 of the Laws of 1929 specified that ‘all lakes now belonging to the State having an area of 50 acres or more’ should be ‘administered as provided for other recreational areas now owned by the State.’ This allowed the then-Department of Conservation and Development to assume management authority for seven Coastal Plain lakes that became units of the State Parks System known as State Lakes. Most of these are administratively included as part of an adjoining State Park, but one of the lakes (White Lake) has no public ownership on its shoreline.

State Natural Areas: State Natural Areas were established as a separate type of system unit in 1963 with the adoption of separate principles for management. The first State Natural Area was created that same year. There are currently 19 State Natural Areas. The purpose of State Natural Areas is focused on preserving and protecting areas of scientific, aesthetic, or ecological value. Facilities are limited to those needed for interpretation, protection, and minimum maintenance. Generally, recreational and public use facilities such as camping, swimming, picnicking, and the like are not provided in State Natural Areas.

State Parks: North Carolina’s first State Park was established at Mount Mitchell in 1916 to protect the summit of the highest mountain in the eastern U.S. There are currently 34 State Parks in the system. Generally, State Parks are expected to possess both significant natural resource values and significant recreational values. State Parks are expected to accommodate the development of facilities, but may vary in the extent of development depending upon what can be provided without damage to the scenic or natural features. Facilities are planned and constructed to keep disturbance of natural resources to a minimum and to leave a ‘liberal portion’ of each park undisturbed and free from improvements and structures, except for trails.

State Recreation Areas: State Recreation Areas are sites where the primary purpose is outdoor recreation, rather than preservation. More intensive development of facilities is provided than in State Parks. Protection and enjoyment of the natural resources are still important, and the sites are expected to contain scenic and attractive natural features. Development is planned and constructed to keep a ‘reasonable amount’ of each area undisturbed and free from improvements and structures. The first State Recreation Area was added to the system in 1971, and principles to guide the development and operation of State Recreation Areas were adopted in 1974. There are currently four State Recreation Areas.

State Rivers: The Natural and Scenic Rivers System was created by the 1971 General Assembly to preserve and protect certain free flowing rivers, their water quality and their adjacent lands for the benefit of present and future generations. The Natural and Scenic Rivers Act established criteria and methods for inclusion of components to the system. Components of the Natural and Scenic Rivers System are State Rivers, and are also units of the State Parks System. Currently there are four State Rivers.

State Trails: The North Carolina Trails System Act was passed in 1973 to help provide for the state’s outdoor recreation needs and to promote public access to natural and scenic areas. The act prescribed methods for establishing a statewide system of scenic trails, recreation trails and connecting or side trails. The Trails System includes ‘park trails’, which are designated and managed as units of the State Parks System known as State Trails, and ‘designated trails’, which are managed by other governmental agencies or corporations.

 

Find Parks on a Map

Click on the mapto visit the park’s website.

Carolina Beach State Park Carvers Creek State Park Chimney Rock State Park Cliffs of the Neuse State Park Crowders Mountain State Park Dismal Swamp State Park Elk Knob State Park Eno River State Park Falls Lake State Recreation Area Fort Fisher State Recreation Area Fort Macon State Park Goose Creek State Park Gorges State Park Grandfather Mountain State Park Hammocks Beach State Park Hanging Rock State Park Haw River State Park Jockey's Ridge State Park Jones Lake State Park Jordan Lake State Recreation Area Kerr Lake State Recreation Area Lake James State Park Lake Norman State Park Lake Waccamaw State Park Lumber River State Park Mayo River State Park Medoc Mountain State Park Merchants Millpond State Park Morrow Mountain State Park Mount Jefferson State Park Mount Mitchell State Park New River State Park Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area Pettigrew State Park Pilot Mountain State Park Raven Rock State Park Singletary Lake State Park South Mountains State Park Stone Mountain State Park Weymouth Woods William B. Umstead State Park

Click here to search all parks by activity. You can also find state parks on this Google map.

Find Parks by Regional Map

Click on the map to select a region to view all of the parks located within that area.

Western Region Map

Click on the map to select a region to view all of the parks located within that area.

Western Region

Central Region Map

Click on the map to select a region to view all of the parks located within that area.

Central Region

Eastern Region Map

Click on the map to select a region to view all of the parks located within that area.

Eastern Region

Coastal Region Map

Click on the map to select a region to view all of the parks located within that area.

Coastal Region

List of North Carolina State Parks
The majority of North Carolina State Parks offer camping, many have lodging facilities that include cabins, yurts etc. Please visit the links provided to North Carolina State Parks for campground/camping information.

Carolina Beach State Park

Chimney Rock State Park

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

Crowders Mountain State Park

Dismal Swamp State Park

Elk Knob State Park

Eno River State Park 

Falls Lake State Park

Fort Fisher State Park

Fort Macon State Park

Goose Creek State Park

Gorges State Park

Hammocks Beach State Park

Hanging Rock State Park

Haw River State Park

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Jones Lake State Park

Jordan Lake State Park

Kerr Lake State Park

Lake James State Park

Lake Norman State Park

Lake Waccamaw State Park

Lumber River State Park

Mayo River State Park

Medoc Mountain State Park

Merchants Millpond State Park

Morrow Mountain State Park

Mount Jefferson State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park

New River State Park

Occoneechee State Park

Pettigrew State Park

Pilot Mountain State Park

Raven Rock State Park

Singletary Lake State Park

South Mountains State Park

Stone Mountain State Park

Weymouth Woods State Park

W. B. Umstead State Park

NC Forests

Our NC National Forests

About the Forestshttp://www.fs.usda.gov/main/nfsnc/about-forest.

There are four National Forests in North Carolina including 1.25 million acres of public lands from the mountains to the sea:

  • Nantahala National ForestThis forest lies in the mountains and valleys of southwestern North Carolina. Elevations in the Nantahala National Forest range from 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County to 1,200 feet in Cherokee County along Hiwassee River below Appalachian Lake Dam. “Nantahala” is a Cherokee word meaning “land of the noon day sun,” a fitting name for the Nantahala Gorge, where the sun only reaches to the valley floor at midday. With over a half million acres, the Nantahala is the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina. The national forest is divided into three ranger districts: Cheoah, Nantahala and Tusquitee.
  • Pisgah National ForestThe Pisgah National Forest is a land of mile-high peaks, cascading waterfalls and heavily forested slopes. Comprised of over 500,000 acres, the Pisgah is primarily a hardwood forest with whitewater rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails. This national forest is home of the first tract of land purchased under the Weeks Act of 1911 which led to the creation of the national forests in the eastern United States. It is also home of the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site, and boasts two of the first designated wilderness areas in the east. The Pisgah, Grandfather and Appalachian Ranger Districts are scattered along the eastern edge of the mountains of western North Carolina and offer visitors a variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoying the natural beauty of the mountains.
  • Uwharrie National ForestThe Uwharrie National Forest was first purchased by the federal government in 1931 during the Great Depression. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed these federal lands in Montgomery, Randolph and Davidson Counties the Uwharrie National Forest. It is one of the most recently formed in the National Forest System. Though small, at only 50,645 acres, the Uwharrie provides a variety of recreation opportunities and natural resources, including clean rivers and streams, diverse vegetation for scenery, wildlife habitat and wood products. Click here for the history of the Uwharrie National Forest.
  • Croatan National ForestDiscover a matrix of longleaf pine forests, evergreen-shrub bogs and wetlands on the Croatan National Forest’s 160,000 acres on North Carolina’s coast. Bordered on three sides by tidal rivers and the Bogue Sound, the forest is defined by water. All this water provides a variety of recreation and diversity of wildlife. Canoeing and fishing are popular on blackwater creeks and saltwater marshes.

 

National Forests Locator Map

The locator map webpage has hot links to the various wilderness areas and national forests information, maps, etc. Lots of good info here!

National Forest Locator Maphttp://www.fs.fed.us/locatormap/

 

NC Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas Locations

North Carolina has 12 Wilderness Areas and 5 protected Wilderness Study Areas (WSA).

Why not plan a trip today to visit and experience these treasures?

NC Wilderness and WSA Map

Click on the map below to help locate the Wilderness Study areas. For additional information, see our NC Chapter webpage on NC Wilderness Areas and NC Wilderness Study Areas!

Pisgah and Natahala MapPisgah and Natahala Map 2014

 

National Forest Map Store

The National Forest Map Store has individual trail maps for the NC forests and wilderness areas. This is a great resource for folks to access a trail map which they SHOULD have when exploring a wilderness area

NC Forest Maps

 

NC National Forests Fact Book

This is a great resource for getting outdoors AND for advocacy work.

NC National Forests 2012 Data BookNC Forest Facts 2011-12

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