The great outdoors: Explore a bit of history and more at Carvers Creek State Park

By Jami McLaughlin

From hiking trails to fishing, Carvers Creek State Park is the perfect place to spend the day.


The main access point at Long Valley Farm in Spring Lake opened in 2013. Six years later, the Sandhills access in North Fayetteville was added. The main visitors center is in Spring Lake through the gate on Long Valley Road, off East Manchester Road.


Carvers Creek is North Carolina’s 36th state park. Special activities like 5K runs are hosted throughout the year. There is a full calendar for tours, classes and canoe trips. The park also offers hiking, fishing, picnic tables and educational programs.

Hiking
With miles of trails at both locations, Carvers Creek State Park is a fantastic place to break out your tennis shoes, bicycle or even your horse trailer for some outdoor fun.


There are several options for nature hikes. The Long Valley Farm access has two easy hiking trails for walking or biking: the Rockefeller Loop Trail and Cypress Loop Trail. Experience a longleaf pine forest and see featured elements such as the Rockefeller home and millpond.


The Sandhills access allows for hiking, cycling and horseback riding with 10 miles of trails. The namesake Carvers Creek flows through this access point and much of the land is undeveloped, making it a perfect place to view an undisturbed ecosystem.

Fishing and canoe tours
Canoe tours are offered at no charge and bring you up close to the gorgeous cypress trees lining the swamp. This is a perfect tour for beginning canoeists and for ages 8 and older. No need to bring your own boat, either. Canoes and life vests are included in the tour. There is a limit of 10 visitors, and you must sign up in advance through the Carvers Creek website.
There are two stocked ponds at the Sandhills access point and in the 100-acre millpond at the Long Valley Farm access point. A North Carolina fishing license is required, and you can keep what you catch as long as it falls within the legal creel limit. Fish include chain pickerel, largemouth bass, catfish and sunfish.

History and educational programs
The history behind this state park is featured in tours and in informative programs on site. The 4,000-acre summer retreat of the Rockefeller family — including the gristmill, trails, wetlands and more — have been conserved and protected for educational purposes. Historic tours are also offered, including tours of the historic home of the late James Stillman Rockefeller.


Local species are highlighted in outdoor classes. The longleaf pine is a significant feature of the park, along with wiregrass and other native plants. If you are interested in birdwatching, the Sandhills access is where you want to watch for the federally protected red-cockaded woodpecker.
There is also a secret pond surrounded by open grass and wildflowers behind the visitors center. Around the pond are multiple picnic tables and an open fire ring, making it a fantastic lunch-date spot or family picnic area.


Whether you’re a nature lover or just want to explore what is special to the Sandhills, a visit to Carvers Creek State Park is a wonderful way to spend a day.

Carvers Creek State Park
Address: 2505 Long Valley Road, Spring Lake; 995 McCloskey Road, Fayetteville
Hours: November-February, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; March-May, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; June-August, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; September-October, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Christmas Day
Cost: Free
Contact: 910-436-4681; carvers.creek@ncparks.gov; ncparks.gov