Kayakers enjoy paddling along the Neuse River, one of North Carolina’s most historic and scenic rivers
photo by Visit Goldsboro, North Carolina
Halfway between Raleigh and the Atlantic coast, Goldsboro, North Carolina, sits on the banks of the Neuse River and is the centerpiece of Wayne County, which boasts a diverse and beautiful landscape. Most visitors travel via U.S. Highway 70 or I-795 to reach Goldsboro, located just east of I-95.
Once here, those who enjoy the outdoors, whether hiking, paddling, biking or golfing, find a wide range of parks, trails and more to explore. Downtown Goldsboro, with its eclectic mix of contemporary shopping and dining options, revitalized buildings and thrilling ghost stories is the perfect spot to get acclimated to this surprising destination. A walk through the city reveals the extraordinary collection of works of public art on display. As an added bonus, the young and young at heart enjoy the challenge of the Downtown Critter Crawl as they search for 20 colorful critters that call downtown Goldsboro home. Finding them all and returning a completed map to the Downtown Goldsboro office (219 North John Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530) earns explorers a prize.
Beyond downtown, there are numerous ways to get out and enjoy the outdoors in Wayne County. There are natural habitats, meandering streams, well-maintained trails, manicured greens and historic sites filled with natural beauty.
The city’s Stoney Creek Greenway & Mountain Bike Trail (400 Durant Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-739-7480) features three miles of single-track bike trails and paved greenway trail, perfect for those who prefer to walk. In addition, Stoney Creek Park (2300 East Ash Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina; 919-739-7480) has a children’s play area, butterfly garden, 18-hole disc golf course and more.
Cliffs of the Neuse State Park (240 Park Entrance Road, Seven Springs, North Carolina 28578; 919-778-6234) is a gem in the state’s system. It sits on 90-foot bluffs overlooking the Neuse River, just a few miles southeast of Goldsboro. The multi-colored cliff face is just one aspect of the park’s beauty and diversity. Longleaf pine forest and an 11-acre lake are just some of the top spots for fun, both on land and water. The park has four miles of hiking trails and nearly as many for biking, in addition to fishing, camping and seasonal swimming and boat rentals. There is also a visitor center open daily.
The Wayne County Paddle Trails (Wayne County, North Carolina;
919-734-7922) includes more than 70 miles of interconnected rivers, streams and tributaries that twist and wind throughout Wayne County. The main attraction is the Neuse River, which is the second largest estuarine system in the United States. The Neuse has a slow-moving flow that is ideal for paddling. Amid the dense canopies of trees along narrower sections of the river, an abundance of wildlife can be seen along its sandy banks. In addition to the Neuse, Mill Creek, Falling Creek and Little River also offer exceptional paddling trail options.
Old Waynesborough Park (801 US Highway 117 South, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-731-1653) is a historic site and the location of the first county seat. The site includes a village with nine historic structures and in addition to its historic value, the park is also listed on the North Carolina Birding Trail. The village sits amid 150 acres of diverse landscape along the Neuse River and more than four miles of trails that wind through open spaces, forest, cypress swamp and scenic river overlooks.
For those who enjoy a day on the links, there are several course options in the area. The city’s Goldsboro Golf Course (1501-B South Slocumb Street, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27530; 919-735-0411) has been re-designed by renowned architect John LaFoy. The course features large Champion Bermuda greens which average over 6,000 square feet each. Nearby, Walnut Creek Country Club (508 Lakeshore Drive, Goldsboro, North Carolina 27534; 919-778-3034) has been hailed the number one hidden gem of Eastern North Carolina golf.
Wayne County is also on the state’s famed Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) which stretches 1,175 miles across North Carolina, from Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks. On the Neuse River Route portion of the MST in Wayne County trekkers can choose to hike or paddle. Although the land portion of the MST here isn’t fully connected yet, there are several sections already open.
If you go
Fly & Fresh: Agriventure Trail has been designed to connect visitors with local options for eating fresh fare, supporting local businesses and getting outdoors. Showcasing the diversity of the community, the Fly & Fresh Agriventure Trail aims to tell the stories of local producers, makers, chefs and business owners and to connect the food on local tables to the environment and entrepreneurship in Wayne County.