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Exploring North Carolina: North Carolina State Parks, Trails, Lakes, Rivers & Natural Areas

North Carolina State Parks History Interactive Timeline in NCpedia.

The North Carolina State Parks system was launched on March 3, 1915 when the General Assembly passed legislation appropriating funds to buy land for a park at Mount Mitchell. A year later, following the aquisition of 795 acres at the mountain's summit, Mount Mitchell became the state's first park and the first park in the southeastern United States. Today the North Carolina State Parks system covers 225,000 acres from the mountains to the sea.

Background Articles
State Park Facts
State Parks Superintendents/Directors State Parks
State Trails
State Recreation Areas
State Natural Areas
State Rivers
State Lakes
Resources and Video Recordings

Background Articles

History of the North Carolina State Parks System (from the Division of Parks and Recreation)

State Parks (from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina)

State Parks Facts

Park Type     # Park Units    Size
State Parks   35      156,900 acres
State Recreation Areas   4  13,256 acres
State Natural Areas  20 24,194 acres
State Lakes   7  29,135 acres
State Rivers    4  146 miles
State Trails  5 2,052 acres, 806 miles
Visitors to State Parks, 2015 17.3 million  

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State Parks Superintendents/Directors

Superintendent/Director Years Served
Thomas W.  Morse*   1935 – 1961
Thomas C. “Red” Ellis  1961 – 1974
Ronald D. Johnson 1974 – 1977
James S. Stevens, Jr.  1977 – 1984
William “Wes” Davis  1984 – 1989
Philip K. McKnelly 1989 – 2003
Lewis R. Ledford  2003 – 2014
Michael A. Murphy 2014 to present

*During the time Morse served in World War II, R.J. Pearce served in an Acting role.

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State Parks, Recreation Areas, Rivers, Lakes, Trails and Natural Areas
(with links to NCpedia articles)

State Parks

Cape Hatteras State Park (now part of the National Seashore)
Carolina Beach State Park
Carvers Creek State Park
Chimney Rock State Park
Crabtree Creek State Park (now Umstead State Park)
Crowders Mountain State Park
Cliffs of the Neuse State Park
Dismal Swamp State Park
Elk Knob State Park
Eno River State Park
Fort Macon State Park
Goose Creek State Park
Gorges State Park
Grandfather Mountain State Park
Hammocks Beach State Park
Hanging Rock State Park

Haw River State Park
Jockey's Ridge State Park
Jones Lake State Park
Lake James State Park
Lake Norman State Park
Lake Waccamaw State Park
Lumber River State Park
Mayo River State Park
Medoc Mountain State Park
Merchants Millpond State Park
Morrow Mountain State Park
Mount Mitchell State Park
New River State Park
Pettigrew State Park
Pilot Mountain State Park
Raven Rock State Park
Reedy Creek State Park (now William B. Umstead State Park)
Singletary Lake State Park
South Mountains State Park
Stone Mountain State Park
William B. Umstead State Park

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State Trails

Fonta Flora Loop State Trail
French Broad River State Trail
Mountains-to-Sea State Trail
Deep River State Trail
Yadkin River State Trail

State Recreation Areas

Falls Lake State Recreation Area
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
Kerr Lake State Recreation Area
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

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State Natural Areas

Baldhead Island State Natural Area
Bear Paw State Natural Area
Bullhead Mountain State Natural Area
Bushy Lake State Natural Area
Hemlock Bluffs State Natural AreaLower Haw River State Natural Area
Lea Island State Natural Area
Masonboro Island State Natural Area
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
Pineola Bog State Natural Area
Run Hill State Natural Area
Sandy Run Savannas State Natural Area
Sugar Mountain Bog State Natural Area
Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area
Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve
Yellow Mountain State Natural Area

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State Rivers

Linville River
New River
Horsepasture River
Lumber River

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State Lakes

Jones Lake
Lake Phelps
Lake Waccamaw
Salters Lake
Singletary Lake
White Lake

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Resources and Video Recordings: