DescriptionCovering 160,000 acres south of New Bern, Croatan National Forest consists mostly of pine and swamp hardwoods. As the most coastal of any national forest in the East, it contains many estuaries and waterfowl nesting areas, as well as public beaches. Three designated areas within the forest provide recreational facilities.
Some of the forest's most interesting wildlife is found in the pocosin (“swamp-on-a-hill”), a wet upland bog with a spongelike top layer of soil. Among the plant life is the carnivorous Venus flytrap, which traps insects in its leaves and digests them. Insects also provide a source of sustenance for sundew and pitcher plants.
Black bears, alligators, woodpeckers, owls and a small number of bald eagles and falcons are part of the forest's ecosystem. Alligator and osprey habitats can be seen along the White Oak River and other coastal waterways. Canoes or small motorboats are best suited for navigation of the waterways. Both saltwater and freshwater fishing are possible, although fishing in the lakes is generally poor.
Cedar Point Tideland Trail, an elevated boardwalk originating at the mouth of the White Oak River across from Swansboro, winds through tidal marsh areas and hardwood and pine forests. Interpretive signs are found along both the 1- and 2-hour loops of the trail. Maps and camping information are available at the ranger office, 141 E. Fisher Ave., 9 miles south of New Bern via US 70E.
Ranger office open Mon.-Fri. 8-noon and 1-4:30. Closed major holidays. Camping fees range $8-$20. For further information contact the Croatan Ranger District, 141 E. Fisher Ave., New Bern, NC 28560; phone (252) 638-5628.