The Cliffs of the Neuse

Cliff View From Base.

This North Carolina State Park holds the highest cliffs in the state at over 90 feet, with its origins over 180 million years ago. During this time period most of North America was covered by an ancient sea and the cliffs developed as a collection of sediment left from the ocean floor. Fossils, which are preserved animals and plants stuck in sediment, are found throughout the park and date back over 75 million years.

Cliffs from the top with tree and foliage obscuring view.

The cliffs are multicolored, however, the orange sediment is the most striking. Iron reacts with oxygen to make this orange color. The Neuse River developed from a fault line in the Earth and along with it many springs.

Three Indian tribes, the Tuscarora, Woccon, and Saponi Tribe, lived in this area for over 1000 years. The Tuscarora were originally from the New York State and Pennsylvania area and returned after the 1713 War becoming The Iroquois Nation.

From 1881-1945 The Seven Springs Hotel was a popular tourist spot in the park area. People came from all locales to drink the water for almost every ailment. However, in 1999 the hotel was closed due to Hurricane Floyd damage.

The idea to make this area a state park came from Lionel Weil, a local businessman. He spear headed a group which donated their lands for this purpose. The plaque seen here located at the cliff site honors his actions.

Currently the park has many trails, an amphitheater, bathhouse, boat rentals, fishing and swimming facilities. While it also has camping and cabins this year they are closed for renovation.

I took the Lake Trail, a 1.9 mile path of sand from the Visitor Center Museum area to the lake. It was a beautiful, shady, and cool walk, but long. Remember to bring water. The swimming area held very few patrons on this mid week 5 pm evening. It proved to be a serene experience swimming and diving from the lake dock.

After this came the Cliff visit. There is little Cliff visibility from the top due to plant and tree overgrowth so I ventured the long path to the cliff base. This journey is made for the physically fit with many stairs to the base and once arriving slippery mud. Also, beware of the bugs and snakes. Thankfully no snakes crossed my path. Worth the hike to base and here are a few pictures.

Bring an extra pair of sneakers.

This is a phenomenal park for families. The museum at the Visitor Center is kid friendly and the lake holds many activities. Here are some interesting tips to curb water pollution according to one of the museum exhibits:

  • Keep sediment from washing into streams.
  • Prevent oil leaks from cars.
  • Don’t over fertilize lawns, clean up fertilizer spills
  • Water car on the lawn so water doesn’t go into the storm drain.
  • Dispose of pet waste properly.

Enjoy your visit.

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