Mountain biking at Lake James State Park is a wonderful way to celebrate one of the 41 amazing spots across the state.

The weather is beautiful and it’s time to start thinking about summer adventures at all 41 of the North Carolina State Parks.

There are currently 41 areas part of the NC State Parks system, including 34 parks, four recreation areas, and three state natural areas, according to NC Parks.

That opens up the door for a ton of adventure, whether you like camping, hiking, beaches, mountains or everything in between.

“Come to our parks to marvel at our state’s most beautiful natural resources, enjoy your favorite outdoor activities, and learn about the rich science, culture, and history that make our parks great,” NC Parks says on their site. “From Gorges State Park on the Blue Ridge escarpment to Jockey’s Ridge State Park in the Outer Banks, you’ll find mysterious bay lakes, wild swamps, sandhills with their longleaf pine habitats, piedmont river systems, and bold mountain streams.”

The closest state parks to Fayetteville are Carvers Creek (right here in Cumberland County!), Raven Rock, Jones Lake, Weymouth Woods, Singletary Lake, and Lumber River.

So here’s a look at all 41 of those amazing places to check out, with links to each park, so you can learn more for your North Carolina State Parks adventure!

North Carolina State Parks map

Image Courtesy NC State Parks System

 

  • Carolina Beach State Park

    Carolina Beach State Park

    Located in New Hanover County 12 miles south of Wilmington, Carolina Beach State Park is known for its marina and as a home of the unique Venus flytrap.

  • Carvers Creek State Park

    Carvers Creek State Park

    Located in Cumberland County 13 miles northwest of Fayetteville, Carvers Creek State Park features Long Valley Farm, which was once the winter retreat of James Stillman Rockefeller, and the Sandhills access that offers multiuse trails through beautiful longleaf pine ecosystems. The park provides plenty of opportunities for recreation and experiencing natural and cultural history.

  • Chimney Rock State Park

    Chimney Rock State Park

    Located in Rutherford county 25 miles southeast of Asheville, Chimney Rock State Park offers some of North Carolina's most dramatic mountain scenery, overlooking Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. At the fee-based Chimney Rock attraction, hike to Hickory Nut Falls and take an elevator or climb to the top of the park's namesake, a 315-foot freestanding rock spire.

  • Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

    https://www.ncparks.gov/cliffs-of-the-neuse-state-park

  • Crowders Mountain State Park

    Crowders Mountain State Park

    Located in Gaston County 32 miles west of Charlotte, Crowders Mountain State Park boasts two mountain peaks that offer magnificent views of the surrounding Piedmont. Trails offer challenging hikes and towering cliffs - and even the opportunity to traverse two states through the Ridgeline Trail, which connects to Kings Mountain National Military Park and Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina.

  • Dismal Swamp State Park

    Dismal Swamp State Park

    Located in Camden County abutting the state's northeast border with Virginia, Dismal Swamp State Park provides access to the Great Dismal Swamp, the largest remaining swamp in the eastern United States. This area features unique and abundant plant life and wildlife, as well as a rich cultural history that intertwines with George Washington, the Underground Railroad, and Prohibition.

  • Elk Knob State Park

    Elk Knob State Park

    Located in Watauga County 11 miles north of Boone, Elk Knob State Park was established in 2003 to protect the mountain and the headwaters of the North Fork of the New River. An overlook summit rewards visitors with a panoramic view of North Carolina's high country.

  • Eno River State Park

    Eno River State Park

    Located in Durham and Orange counties 10 miles northwest of downtown Durham, Eno River State Parks spans across five access areas along its namesake river. The swift, but often shallow stream of the river can make for difficult paddling but provides beautiful landmarks like the Cascades.

  • Falls Lake State Recreation Area

    Falls Lake State Recreation Area

    Located in Durham and Wake counties 15 miles east of downtown Durham, Falls Lake State Recreation Area provides seven access areas to the reservoir. More than 300 campsites offer a variety of overnight experiences. Trails include a portion of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, as well as one of the premier mountain bike trail systems in the Triangle area, located at Beaverdam access.

  • Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

    Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

    Located in New Hanover County 18 miles south of Wilmington, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is the only park in the system that allows four-wheel-drive beach access, making it popular for surf fishing. Warm weather months bring loggerhead sea turtles to nest along the park's sandy shores.

  • Fort Macon State Park

    Fort Macon State Park

    Located in Carteret County 39 miles southeast of New Bern, Fort Macon State Park is centered on an impeccably restored pre-Civil War fort that offers daily guided tours and frequent cannon and musket demonstrations. Extensive exhibits educate visitors on fort history and the natural surroundings.

  • Goose Creek State Park

    Goose Creek State Park

    Located in Beaufort County 34 miles southeast of Greenville, Goose Creek State Park offers a broad range of coastal experiences, from wetlands along the Pamlico River to a cypress swamp viewed from a long boardwalk.

  • Gorges State Park

    Gorges State Park

    Located in Transylvania County near the tripoint where North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia meet, Gorges State Park sports plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, and sheer rock precipices. Backcountry-style recreation is a hallmark of the park, from backpacking to horseback riding.

  • Grandfather Mountain State Park

    Grandfather Mountain State Park

    The following are other parking areas for trails inside Grandfather Mountain State Park. These accesses are not managed by N.C. State Parks. Managed by the National Park Service Mile marker: 299.9, Blue Ridge Parkway, Banner Elk, NC 28604 GPS: 36.1200, -81.7813 Managed by the National Park Service Blowing Rock Highway / U.S.

  • Hammocks Beach State Park

    Hammocks Beach State Park

    Tent sites (backpacking via ferry or paddle-in) Group tent sites (for organized groups only, backpacking via ferry) Showers Hiking (2.3 miles of trails at the mainland; 4 miles of beach) Paddling Swimming Fishing Picnicking Boat ramp Concession stand (seasonal) Auditorium Gazebo and picnic shelter Visitor center and exhibits Beach access (ocean) A private concessionaire in the park offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals, as well as guided kayak and paddleboard tours.

  • Hanging Rock State Park

    Hanging Rock State Park

    Located in Stokes County 30 miles north of Winston-Salem, Hanging Rock State Park started as a Civilian Conservation Corps project and has become a park that offers every part of a traditional outdoor experience. Trails lead to picturesque mountain views, rock outcrops, waterfalls, and even a mountain cave.

  • Haw River State Park

    Haw River State Park

    Located in Rockingham and Guilford counties 15 miles north of Greensboro, Haw River State Park is a unique park that centers on The Summit, a residential environmental education and conference center, accommodating retreats and conferences for groups big or small. Trails and a boardwalk offer a journey into wetlands and a floodplain swamp.

  • Jockey's Ridge State Park

    Jockey's Ridge State Park

    Located in Dare County in the Outer Banks, Jockey's Ridge State Park is home to the tallest living sand dune system on the Atlantic coast and provides an ideal location for flying kites and watching sunsets. Hang gliding is a hallmark activity at the park, and a private concessionaire offers lessons.

  • Jones Lake State Park

    Jones Lake State Park

    Located in Bladen County 40 miles southeast of Fayetteville, Jones Lake State Park opened as the first state park to welcome Black Americans and has since been a community destination for picnicking, swimming, hiking, and paddling. Tea-colored waters hide the shallow depth of the lake, which reaches to just 8 feet.

  • Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

    Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

    All walk-up sites, reserved onsite at the campground and available on a first-come, first-served basis only *All walk-up sites, reserved onsite at the campground and available on a first-come, first-served basis only *All walk-up sites, reserved onsite at the campground and available on a first-come, first-served basis only ^Note: White Oak is open for day-use during these dates only on weekends and holidays, and when the area is not reserved.

  • Kerr Lake State Recreation Area

    Kerr Lake State Recreation Area

    About the Park Located in Vance and Warren counties at North Carolina's north-central border with Virginia, Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is a collective of eight access areas around the shoreline of this 50,000-acre reservoir. Campers can choose from seven campground and hundreds of campsites to enjoy a serene night by the lake.

  • Lake James State Park

    Lake James State Park

    Located in Burke and McDowell counties 50 miles northeast of Asheville, Lake James State Park includes two areas to access this picturesque lake that is perfect for boating, swimming, and fishing. Campsites at both Catawba River and Paddy's Creek accesses provide an opportunity to spend the night by the lake, with some sites accessible only by paddling.

  • Lake Norman State Park

    Lake Norman State Park

    24-hour access to the campground is available through the St. Johns Road entrance. From the intersection of Old Mountain Road and East Monbo Road in the Troutman area, travel south approximately 4.3 miles on East Monbo Road to St. Johns Road. Turn left onto St. Johns Road and go 0.5 mile to State Park Road.

  • Lake Waccamaw State Park

    Lake Waccamaw State Park

    Tent sites (including backpacking) Group tent sites Firewood Boat ramp Auditorium and classroom Visitor center and exhibits A second boat ramp managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is located on the northwest part of Lake Waccamaw.

  • Lumber River State Park

    Lumber River State Park

    Located in Columbus, Robeson, Scotland, and Hoke counties 60 miles south of Fayetteville, Lumber River State Park has two access areas located about 1 hour from each other: Princess Ann and Chalk Banks. Possibilities for paddling on this 115-mile river are extraordinary.

  • Mayo River State Park

    Mayo River State Park

    Located in Rockingham County 30 miles northwest of Greensboro, Mayo River State Park offers various recreational opportunities at the main Mayo Mountain access and at multiple accesses along the Mayo River. At the main access, visitors can enjoy hiking trails, fishing ponds, a picnic area and shelter, and a group campsite.

  • Medoc Mountain State Park

    Medoc Mountain State Park

    Located in Halifax County 30 miles northwest of Rocky Mount, Medoc Mountain State Park stands on the 325-foot remnant of a once-mighty mountain range from 350 million years ago. Instead of a typical "mountain" adventure, visitors can enjoy picnicking in the park's open meadow, fishing on Little Fishing Creek, and traversing the trails on foot, bike, or horse.

  • Merchants Millpond State Park

    Merchants Millpond State Park

    Located in Gates County 10 miles south of North Carolina's northeastern border with Virginia, Merchants Millpond State Park centers on a 760-acre millpond more than 190 years old. Hiking the surrounding trails or paddling the placid, shallow waters of the pond offer a great way to explore this wetland environment.

  • Morrow Mountain State Park

    Morrow Mountain State Park

    Located in Stanly County 50 miles northeast of Charlotte, Morrow Mountain State Park provides a myriad of adventures from the summit of the namesake mountain, along the banks of the Yadkin River State Trail, and to the shores of Lake Tillery.

  • Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

    Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

    Located in Ashe County 25 miles northeast of Boone, Mount Jefferson State Natural Area surrounds a natural landmark that offers vistas as far as Tennessee from its overlooks and Luther Rock. The mountain, first spotted from the Blue Ridge Parkway, rises abruptly from the surrounding landscape.

  • Mount Mitchell State Park

    Mount Mitchell State Park

    Note: Due to the high elevation, the park may have frequent and prolonged closures during the winter. The primary access to the park is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is managed by the National Park Service, and they close sections of the parkway when the road is icy.

  • New River State Park

    New River State Park

    Located in Ashe and Alleghany counties 35 miles northeast of Boone, New River State Park covers seven accesses along this National Wild and Scenic River that flows north through three states. All accesses allow for launching kayaks and inner tubes to paddle or float along the shallow, gentle river.

  • Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

    Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

    Located in Orange County 15 miles northwest of downtown Durham, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area offers a quick escape into nature with trails winding through forests of mountain laurel and rhododendron. Two quiet fishing ponds complement the nearby Eno River, while the summit overlook affords a great sunset view.

  • Pettigrew State Park

    Pettigrew State Park

    Located in Washington and Tyrrell counties 75 miles northeast of Greenville, Pettigrew State Park showcases the rich habitat of Lake Phelps and the Scuppernong River, home to wintering tundra swans and cypress trees with cavernous archways.

  • Pilot Mountain State Park

    Pilot Mountain State Park

    Located in Surry and Yadkin counties 20 miles northwest of Winston-Salem, Pilot Mountain State Park centers around the iconic geologic knob that serves as a beacon, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to a vast array of activities. The park offers the gamut, from hiking and horseback riding to rock climbing and camping, with accesses on both the rugged terrain of the monadnock and the Yadkin River.

  • Raven Rock State Park

    Raven Rock State Park

    Located in Harnett County 40 miles southwest of Raleigh, Raven Rock State Park boasts the namesake 150-foot crystalline structure that overlooks the Cape Fear River. The trails along the bluffs that lead to the rock are dotted with beautiful wildflowers, including mountain laurel.

  • Singletary Lake State Park

    Singletary Lake State Park

    Located in Bladen County 50 miles northwest of Wilmington, Singletary Lake State Park was developed as a group camp but has expanded public access for hiking, fishing, and paddling. The trademark camps provide a unique experience for organized groups to united in work and play in the midst of the distinct Carolina bay environment, complete with dormitory-style cabins, a mess hall, and a 500-foot pier for swimming.

  • South Mountains State Park

    South Mountains State Park

    Located in Burke County 55 miles east of Asheville, South Mountains State Park is situated at the crossroads of the Appalachian Mountains and the Foothills to provide the ultimate backcountry experience. The park boasts elevations up to 3,000 feet, an 80-foot waterfall, and nearly 50 miles of trail for hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers.

  • Stone Mountain State Park

    Stone Mountain State Park

    Hutchinson Homestead Open May to October, on weekends only Visitors are welcome to walk the Homestead site grounds when the site is not open. Garden Creek Baptist Church Historic Site Services are held at 9 a.m.: from May to October, every Sunday from November to April, only on the first Sunday of every month Visitors are welcome to walk the church grounds when the church is closed.

  • Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve

    Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve

    There are no camping facilities at Weymouth Woods. The closest state park with camping is Raven Rock State Park. Hiking (7 miles) Horseback riding (2.5 miles, no horse trailer parking) Picnicking Auditorium and classroom Discovery room Visitor center and exhibits Amenities are available at Weymouth Woods tract only.

  • William B. Umstead State Park

    William B. Umstead State Park

    Located in Wake County 10 miles northwest of downtown Raleigh, William B. Umstead State Park is a cherished retreat from bustling urban life. The park features an extensive network of hiking and multiuse trails, as well as three manmade lakes and their tributaries that are perfect for fishing.

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