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Van Life At Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

Goose Creek State Park Pamlico Sound

Picture this – you’re cruising down the road in your trusty campervan with your furry friend as your co-pilot, both eagerly anticipating your next great adventure. The open road is calling, leading you to a hidden gem in the heart of North Carolina – Goose Creek State Park.

Goose Creek isn’t just any North Carolina state park. It’s a wonderland of sprawling pines, live oaks, and captivating swamps, all hugging the tranquil Pamlico Sound. Located near Washington, NC, this park is a true haven for vanlifers like us who crave a scenic retreat from the hustle and bustle.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into Goose Creek State Park North Carolina. We’ll cover the trails, the water sources, the views, and the pet policy!

So, put on your favorite road trip playlist and drive towards what promises to be an unforgettable journey at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina.

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The Campervan Experience at Goose Creek State Park

If you want to spend the money, you can camp overnight in the park. Rates vary depending on where you wish to stay. There are cabins, RV spots, and primitive tent spots available.

Here’s a breakdown of what you get at each spot. We haven’t included the cabins because, well, your van is your home!

Number of Sites AvailablePrice Per Night (2023)Amenities
RV Camp Sites22$36Full hookups, water, sewer, electric, fire ring, grill, picnic table, lantern hook, one tent pad, bathhouse near the entrance.
Tent Camp Sites14$15Fire ring, grill, picnic table, lantern hook, two tent pads, water spigots, bathrooms nearby.

RV Campsites

It’s not the norm for campervans to park in RV campsites, but it’s an option if you want a flat, quiet place to park at night to have a tranquil night’s sleep. 

Goose Creek offers 22 RV campsites. They have full hookups, including water, electricity, and sewer. If you decide to stay here, you’ll have access to your own fire pit, grill, and picnic table. It costs $36 per night to stay in the RV campsite. For a closer look at the campsites, check out the Goose Creek State Park North Carolina Campsite Map.

Tent Campsites

Goose Creek has 14 tent campsites spaced out to offer solitude throughout the night. Like the RV sites, you’ll get a fire ring, grill, and picnic table. Camping in the tent campsites is less expensive – $15 per night.

Considering most vanlifers do not need full hookups, you’re better off staying in the tent campsites.

Overnight Parking

The van parked at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

Unsurprisingly, no overnight parking or camping is allowed in Goose Creek unless you pay for a permit to stay overnight in one of the campsites. The park is small, and the rangers patrol it well, so it’s not worth trying to stealth camp inside the park.

Instead, consider paying for a tent campsite or park outside the park. There is a Lowes and Walmart within 20 minutes of the park. Or, you can park at Water Front Memorial Park along West Stewart Parkway.

Embracing Adventure at Goose Creek State Park: An Unforgettable Campervan Experience

Let’s dive into the captivating beauty of Goose Creek State Park. We are from the northeast, so this park was a real treat for us as we never get to see Spanish moss, and live oaks don’t thrive in our area.

Hiking with G, Robyn and Pawd at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

So, if you’re not from the area, you’re in for some fantastic adventures!

Goose Creek State Park is located off Camp Leach Road in Beaufort County. From Washington, follow US-264 to Camp Leach Road and then take the main park road. Now, let’s go over the things to do at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina.

Wildlife And Nature At Goose Creek

As soon as you step out of your campervan, you’ll be greeted by a symphony of sounds from the local wildlife and the gentle rustling of leaves in the breeze. This state recreation area has plenty of wildlife and nature to offer!

Hiking with Pawd and Luna at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

Now, take a good look around. You’re surrounded by towering loblolly pines reaching for the sky, their branches dancing in the wind. On the waterfront, live oaks draped in Spanish moss stand like sentinels, their roots dipping into the tranquil waters of the Pamlico Sound. 

And then there are the swamps – mysteriousunique, and teeming with life. They’re a testament to nature’s resilience and diversity. Whatever you’re looking for in this state natural area, you’re likely to find it!

Trails at Goose Creek

Ready to get moving? Lace up those hiking boots because Goose Creek State Park boasts an impressive network of trails. Each path offers a unique opportunity to explore the park’s diverse ecosystems, from the swampy wetlands to the sandy beaches.

We took our cats here and found that they really enjoyed walking in the sandy areas of the beach! If you also plan to bring your adventure cat to Goose Creek, read our article on cat hiking essentials to ensure you have all the necessary gear!

We’ll go over the trails in more detail a little later. For now, you can download the Goose Creek State Park North Carolina map to check out the nine trails at the park.

Swimming And Kayaking

If water is more your element, grab your canoe or kayak and hit the Pamlico Sound. The calm waters are perfect for a leisurely paddle, allowing you to explore the park from a new perspective. And remember the swimming area – nothing beats a refreshing dip on a hot summer day!

Boardwalk Path

For those who want to truly immerse themselves in Goose Creek’s unique environment, the park boasts a long boardwalk that cuts right through the heart of the swamp. Walking this trail feels like stepping into another world, with the dense vegetation forming a green canopy overhead and the swamp’s inhabitants going about their business all around you.

9 Best Hiking Trails At Goose Creek State Park

Goose Creek has nine hiking trails, each offering a unique experience as you explore various natural environments. All the trails in this area are considered easy with minimal elevation gain.

Trail map at Goose Creek State Park

1. Long Leaf Trail

The Long Leaf Trail is an easy 1.3-mile hike along the outer perimeter of the RV campground sites. It starts at the park office (2190 Camp Leach Rd) and circles the RV campground. This is a great trail to pair with other trails such as the Palmetto Boardwalk.

Long leaf trail at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

2. Palmetto Boardwalk

It may sound like a pretty name, but Palmetto is just another word for cockroach – Yikes! But don’t worry. You’re not likely to spot any on this trail! Instead, you’ll walk along crushed gravel and boardwalk through swamps and marshes.

This is an excellent path to view marshland wildlife such as turtles and, if you’re very lucky, an otter!

Palmetto Boardwalk trail at Goose Creek State Park

3. Tar Kiln Trail

The Tar Kiln Trail starts at the end of the Palmetto Boardwalk trail and heads southeast towards the Mallard Creek Loop and the swimming area. This is an excellent trail to connect with the Palmetto if you want to head towards the beachy area of the Pamlico River.

From start to finish, the Tar Kiln Trail is 2.5 miles out and back and is considered easy. Like other trails in the Goose Creek area, it can be connected to other trails to make it a more challenging hike.

Tar Kiln Trail at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

4. Ivey Gut Trail

At 3.5 miles long, the Ivey Gut Trail is the second-longest single trail in the park. Still, it’s considered an easy trail. Towards the end of the hike, you’ll view the beautiful Goose Creek, which is a large waterway that flows into the Pamlico River.

Ivey Gut Trail at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

5. Goose Creek Trail

The Goose Creek Trail is the longest trail in the park, measuring 5 miles long out and back. It starts on the westernmost side of the park and ends in the southeast corner near the beach area.

Add in the Flatty Creek Trail to make the hike a little longer and add in some gorgeous views of Flatty Creek.

Goose Creek Trail at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

6. Flatty Creek Trail

At just 0.6 miles, Flatty Creek Trail is one of the shortest trails in the park. It’s often paired with the Goose Creek Trail since the only way to get to the Flatty Creek Trail is via the Goose Creek Trail.

This water-filled trail takes you down to Flatty Creek, an extensive system of water that pours into the Pamlico River.

Flatty Creek Trail at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

7. Mallard Creek Loop

This small loop is located in the southeast corner of Goose Creek State Park and measures just 1 mile, making it an easy loop for all hiking levels. It will take you on an exciting adventure towards Mallard Creek, another large waterway that flows into the Pamlico.

Mallard Creek Loop at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

8. Live Oak Trail

This short 1-mile trail is well worth it to view the beautiful live oaks and Spanish moss. Don’t forget the many squirrels that scurry around this area of the park! The trail heads toward the swimming area and meanders along the sandy shoreline before ending at the Mallard Creek Trail.

Live Oak Trail at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

9. Huckleberry Trail

The final trail on our list is just 0.6 miles long. However, it can be connected to the Live Oak Trail and the Mallard Creek Trail to extend your hike.

Huckleberry Trail at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

Pet-Friendly Aspects of Goose Creek State Park

We know that no trip is complete without our four-legged companions. Luckily, Goose Creek State Park North Carolina allows pets inside their park and campsites.

This park has a big heart for our furry friends, and yes, they are more than welcome here. Whether setting up camp under the stars or just visiting for the day, your pets can join you every step of the way.

You can check out our article on hiking with your dog for tips on what to pack and hiking etiquette!

Pet Restrictions

Before you start packing those doggie bags, there are a few rules to remember. Firstly, while pets are allowed at the park and campsites, they aren’t permitted inside buildings or in camper cabins. 

Leash Policy

Luna relaxing on her walk

Secondly, pets must be on a leash at all times. This park seems particularly strict about this aspect. Whether your fur baby is a seasoned adventurer or a couch potato doesn’t matter! So, remember to pack a leash that’s six feet or shorter. And, of course, it goes without saying that you should always clean up after your pet.

Exploring the trails, splashing in the water, or just lounging by your campsite – there’s no shortage of fun at Goose Creek State Park, North Carolina. With a bit of planning and respect for park rules, it’s the perfect spot for an unforgettable campervan adventure with your best furry friend.

Living the Campervan Life at Goose Creek State Park

So, is Goose Creek State Park North Carolina a place to hang out for a few days in your campervan? We think so!

We stayed for two days at Goose Creek State Park (staying overnight outside the park), and we would have come back for a third day if we hadn’t had issues that forced us to leave the area and head back home for a short spell. A few things made Goose Creek a perfect campervan hangout spot.

Back Of Park Is Chill 

We hung out in the back parking lot on Wednesday and Thursday from around 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. since that area of the park closed at 5 p.m. in November. 

The lot typically had two or three cars that came and went at a time. Everyone was either super friendly and welcoming or kept to themselves. We put our awning out and had lawn chairs in the parking space next to us, and no one complained.

Big Red Van parked in the back lot of Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

We use Starlink and were able to get great internet here. A bus full of school kids came around 11 a.m. We closed our doors and worked on our computers while they ran around and screamed for a few minutes. Then, they headed out on a trail, leaving us in peace for about an hour until they returned, loaded on the bus, and left.

Water And Bathrooms Available

If you live in your van full time, chances are you have a toilet and maybe even a shower. However, using our precious water is something no van lifer wants to do!

Goose Creek has water spigots available to fill your water tank (if you have something to transport it with). There are uncrowded bathrooms, especially at the back of the park. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the bathrooms, taking only 3 or 4 minutes to reach them.

Garbage Cans

If you need to empty your van’s garbage can, there are a few bear-proof cans in each parking lot. This makes it a super convenient area for vanlife!

What’s Nearby

Vanlifers know the importance of having grocery stores, water sources, and other necessities nearby. If you stay in the park, here are a few things to do near Goose Creek State Park North Carolina:

  • Closest town: the closest town to Goose Creek is Bath, but you’re better off driving a few extra miles to Washington. It’s a larger town with more grocery options and other vanlife amenities.
  • Education: North Carolina Estuarium is an environmental center with exhibits highlighting their estuaries and coastal regions and the importance of these environments.
  • History/Museums: The Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum is located along West Main Street and gives you a history of slavery in North Carolina and the underground railroad network to freedom.
  • Art/Theater: Check out the Turnage Theater for various events, such as movies, music, and comedy. This historic building was built in 1913 and restored in 2013.
  • Parks: There are several North Carolina State Parks nearby, including Medoc Mountain State Park, River State Park North, Raven Rock State Park, Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, Hammocks Beach State Park, and Singletary Lake State Park. Lake Norman is worth the trip if you’re willing to drive a little further!

If you’re anything like us, you look for the free stuff to do around town! If that’s the case, consider checking out the marina and waterfront memorial park or cruising along West Main Street and taking in the beautiful Pamlico River. The Washington visitor center is also filled with local information to give you ideas.

Wrapping Up Our Adventure at Goose Creek State Park North Carolina

That’s a wrap on our virtual journey through the stunning landscape of Goose Creek State Park. This North Carolinian gem truly has everything from the towering loblolly pines to the tranquil waters of Pamlico Sound.

For those of us living the campervan lifestyle, Goose Creek is an absolute dream come true. There’s plenty of parking available, making it a breeze to set up camp and start exploring. You’ll find water sources aplenty, and let’s not forget that refreshing swimming area – perfect for cooling off after hiking or canoeing.

And for those of us traveling with our furry companions, Goose Creek State Park really rolls out the red carpet. With its pet-friendly policies and plenty of open space to roam (on a leash, of course!), your four-legged friends will be in doggy heaven.

Before we sign off, we’d love to hear from you. Have you visited Goose Creek State Park with your pet? Do you have a favorite trail or a must-see spot? Leave a comment below and share your experiences with our community of adventurers.

Until next time, keep chasing those horizons, and remember – the best adventures are yet to come! For more vanlife destination information, check out our vanlife blog!

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