Monday, October 17, 2011

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge (Creef Cut Wildlife Trail)


One of the places that Ashley and I had the opportunity to visit this past summer in North Carolina was the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is a very unique place with the highest population of black bears on the east coast of the United States and is one of the only areas in the world that you can see the endangered red wolf in the wild. We did the Wildlife Drive, a hike on the Creef Cut Wildlife Trail, the Bear Tour, and the Red Wolf Howling Safari while visiting the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Directions to Trailhead: The trailhead for the Creef Cut Wildlife Trail at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is located in Eastern North Carolina. The address for the trailhead  is Milltail Road East Lake, NC 27953. For more information or directions to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge their office phone is: 252-473-1131 and their fax number: 252-473-1668. For directions and information for road networks in North Carolina click Here.

Description of Hike: The Creef Cut Wildlife Trail is a half-mile long (1 mile roundtrip) hike with minimal elevation gain. There is an informal trail that continues all the way to the highway which would make the total hike close to 2.5 miles roundtrip. It is a universally-accessible trail that's ideal for school groups or families, as well as individuals. A kiosk at the trailhead provides information about the refuge and the habitats and wildlife that occur. Also at the trailhead is a universally-accessible fishing platform. Since there is a canal that links this site directly with South Lake, there is a constant supply of crappie, bluegill, and other freshwater fish. A state fishing license is required.Interpretive signs along the trail identify vegetation types or wildlife that may be seen in the area. A 200-foot boardwalk takes visitors out onto the freshwater marsh to the north of the trail. On the south, an overlook provides viewing of the Creef Moist Soil management area where waterfowl, raptors, and other migratory birds can be seen. The entire Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is open during daylight hours only, a 1/2 hour before sunrise to a 1/2 hour after sunset. The speed limit on all refuge roads, unless otherwise posted, is 35 miles per hour. Motorized vehicles are allowed only on designated roads.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really enjoyed our hike on the Creef Cut Wildlife Trail in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The majority of the trail is paved, which is good because of the marshy terrain the trail goes through. You have an excellent chance of seeing wildlife. When Ashley and I were on the trail there were fresh black bear tracks that cross the trail in several places. Additionally, we were told that alligators frequent some of the ponds there.

The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a broad expanse (152,000 acres) of wildlands and waters. There are many options available to explore the refuge and the designated wildlife drive and trails offer the best wildlife viewing opportunities. Black bear, deer, river otters, and red wolves, along with a variety of birds, reptiles, and amphibians may be seen here. During the winter months, large numbers of waterfowl and other migratory birds are present.

We would suggest that you make sure to bring plenty of insect repellent and water, especially during the hot summer months. Additionally, to better see wildlife at the viewing areas, you might want to bring a pair of binoculars. The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge offers a wide variety of programs that you can attend. They have the Red Wolf Howling Safari, Bear Tours, and much more.

Rating: Elevation Gain: Minimal (Very Easy), Distance: 1 Mile Roundtrip (Easy).

Time to Complete Hike: 30 minutes to 1 hour.

MORE TRAIL WRITE-UPS ON THE ALLIGATOR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

Creef Cut Wildlife Trail (This Post)

Red Wolf Howling Safari

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