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Down East North Carolina: Oyster Point Campground to Cedar Island Ferry.

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Point to Point

19' 6 m


1' 0 m


118' 36 m


127' 39 m



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Dogs Leashed

Features River/Creek · Swimming · Views

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Segment 17 of North Carolina's 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail takes hikers "Down East" to see the North River, small fishing towns that face the Core Sound, and the 14,500 acres of the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Heading east from Oyster Point Campground, the southern terminus of the Neusiok Trail, hikers experience a short roadside glimpse of the beauty and variety of the Croatan National Forest before crossing the North River to enter a part of Carteret County traditionally referred to as "Down East." Fishing, particularly for shrimp and blue crabs, is a mainstay of the economy.

Look for the entrance to the NC Coastal Federation's North River Wetlands Preserve along US 70. NCCF is restoring this 6,000-acre farm back to its original state—forested, freshwater and tidal wetlands—in order to improve the water quality of degraded downstream estuaries and reopen these waters for shellfishing. In the future, when a bridge and boardwalk is built near the headwaters of the North River, the MST will traverse this property for more than eight miles. Hikers can visit the preserve now by registering and paying a $5.00 fee at the entrance.

The trail route continues through a string of Down East communities fronting Core Sound. Hikers are rarely out of sight of bays, estuaries, and wetlands as they walk through Otway, Smyrna, Williston, Davis and Stacy.

The route veers off US 70 onto NC 12 as it nears the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, where the only people on the road are visiting the refuge or heading for the ferry. Here vast marshlands stretch toward the horizon, dotted with occasional "islands" of trees. Two hundred and seventy species of birds, 91 of amphibians and reptiles, and 35 mammals are known to live in the refuge, including breeding black rails, a bird species of special concern.

Highlights include:

  • The diversity of native plants and wildlife—first in the Croatan National Forest and then along the sounds, rivers, marshes and estuaries of North Carolina's inner banks.
  • The welcoming people who live in the small villages "down east" along the Core Sound.

    There are no MST signs or blazes in this segment.

    For more information, including camping, lodging, parking, shuttles and resupply information, as well as detailed, turn-by-turn directions, download a trail guide from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
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    Shared By:

    Jim Grode

    Trail Ratings

      4.3 from 3 votes


      4.3 from 3 votes
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    in North Carolina


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    2,239 Since Apr 5, 2016
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    Add Your Check-In


    Mar 23, 2019
    Karen Clark
    Apr 19, 2018
    John Drake Deans
    Sep 9, 2017
    Chad Pitcher
    Short segment of the Neusiok trail With Paige and Samson. Didn't complete because we were unable to find trail. Camped by the Neuse river. 4mi
    Jul 15, 2017
    Chip Galusha
    west bound 0 - 9.3 9.3mi
    Apr 30, 2016
    Suzi Grotelueschen
    21.1mi — 10h 01m

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