Tuesday ยท July 11, 2023
Croatan National Forest: Top Horse Trails | July 2023
Author: Admin

Exploring the Great Outdoors: Top Horse Trails in Croatan National Forest


Nestled in the heart of eastern North Carolina, Croatan National Forest is a natural haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Spanning over 160,000 acres, this diverse and picturesque forest offers numerous opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching. However, one activity that truly shines in Croatan is horseback riding. With its extensive trail system, equestrians can immerse themselves in the forest's beauty while enjoying a memorable riding experience. Let's explore the top horse trails in Croatan National Forest that are sure to captivate riders of all levels.


1. Neusiok Trail:

Known as one of the premier horse trails in the forest, the Neusiok Trail offers a challenging and unforgettable 20-mile experience. Starting at Pine Cliff Recreation Area, this trail meanders through stunning longleaf pine forests, cypress swamps, and along the banks of the tranquil Neuse River. The trail is well-marked, but riders are advised to bring a map and compass as occasional flooding can occasionally obscure the path. The Neusiok Trail offers breathtaking scenery and the chance to spot a variety of wildlife, including deer, black bear, and migratory birds.


2. Cedar Point Trail:

Located near the Croatan District Visitor Center, the Cedar Point Trail is an idyllic five-mile loop suitable for riders of all skill levels. This gentle trail takes riders through a lush maritime forest, over wetlands, and along the scenic White Oak River. Along the way, keep an eye out for waterfowl, turtles, and maybe even a glimpse of the elusive river otter. The Cedar Point Trail also connects to the nearby Great Lake Trail, offering riders the opportunity to extend their journey further.


3. Catfish Lake South Trail:

Situated in the southern part of Croatan National Forest, the Catfish Lake South Trail provides an eight-mile route through the dense pocosin forest and alongside picturesque Catfish Lake. This trail is perfect for experienced riders looking for a more challenging adventure. Expect some muddy patches and fallen tree obstacles along the trail. The reward, however, is worth it as you venture through pristine and remote areas of the forest. Remember to bring insect repellent, as this area is notorious for mosquitoes during certain times of the year.


4. Gum Swamp Trail:

For a unique riding experience, equestrians should consider exploring the Gum Swamp Trail. This seven-mile trail winds through a beautiful wetland ecosystem with an abundance of cypress trees and lush vegetation. Riders will feel as if they've entered a different world as they navigate the raised boardwalks and wooden bridges that traverse the swamp. The Gum Swamp Trail is an excellent choice for a leisurely ride filled with awe-inspiring views and the opportunity to encounter rare plant species and various amphibians.


5. Longleaf Horse Trail:

Located within the Croatan Game Lands, the Longleaf Horse Trail is an extensive network of trails covering more than 20 miles. Riders can choose their own adventure by connecting various trails to create a route that suits their preferences. This trail system takes riders through a diverse landscape, including longleaf pine forests, savannas, and sandy paths. Wildlife such as deer, wild turkeys, and foxes are commonly seen along the trail. The Longleaf Horse Trail is a fantastic option for those seeking a longer and more immersive horseback riding experience.


Before embarking on a horseback riding adventure in Croatan National Forest, it is essential to come prepared. Make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, horse feed, and proper riding equipment. Furthermore, be aware that during hunting seasons, sections of certain trails may be closed or have restrictions, so check with the forest service for any current limitations.


Croatan National Forest's top horse trails provide riders with an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of this magnificent forest. Whether you are an experienced equestrian seeking a challenging adventure or a leisurely rider looking for a peaceful escape, these trails offer something for everyone. So saddle up, enjoy the fresh air, and embark on an unforgettable horseback riding journey through the remarkable Croatan National Forest.