Merchant's Millpond, North Carolina
Paddling Merchant's Millpond State Park, North Carolina
Merchant's Millpond is one of the most beautiful and enchanting paddle trips you can find. The coffee colored water and the moss covered cypress and tupelos trees provide a beauty that has to be experienced to believe.
Getting to Merchant's Millpond
The only bad part about paddling Merchant's Millpond, is getting there. It's in the middle of nowhere with no town nearby. It's four plus hours from Durham, for example. But the trip is well worth it. Our trip was part of a multi day excursion to the eastern part of NC which included paddling on Lake Mattamuskeet.. We based in Edenton, NC which is about a close to the park as you can get.
The park's address is: 176 Millpond Road, Gatesville, NC 27938-9440 GPS: 36.437105, -76.701585
Camping at Merchant's Millpond
If you're up to it, you can camp at the park. There are several primitive kayak and backpack campsites at the park. These sites have pit toilets and no water. So be sure to take plenty of water with you.
If you don't want to completely rough it, there are 25 car campsites available. The car sites provide a picnic table and grill but no water or electric hookups. There are a wash room, drinking water, and showers nearby.
After we purchased our RV we made a visit to Merchant's Millpond and stayed in the campground. We had a great time. We paddled here using Clem, our new kayak.
Our paddling trip
Turtle at Merchant's Millpond
We paddled there in Mach 2003 on a beautiful sunny day. There were a few other paddlers on the pond. Once we left the launch area we were pretty much alone. We found several turtles taking advantage of the sunny day to sun bathe. They generally plopped into the water when we got close.
If you paddle the Millpond, you should pick up a map at the ranger station. It shows the numerous marked trails. Each trail is marked with a different color buoy. The trails are useful because it can be easy to get confused on the pond--especially if you weave in and out of the trees. The buoy trails get you unconfused.
We talked to the ranger who told us that there was a small alligator in the park. I hoped we would see it, but we didn't. Later in the year there are supposed to be snakes on the pond. A good reason to paddle in the early spring or late fall.
We returned to the millpond for a second paddle on our way home. This time we saw a fair number of birds including a beautiful hawk. This is definitely a place we plan to return to.
If you want to stretch you legs after a bit of paddling, you can hike some of the trails in the park. The down side of hiking is ticks. In the warm months, the place is said to be full of them, so take plenty of OFF or other high powered insect repellent.
After we paddled Merchant's Millpond, we paddled Lake Mattamuskeet then next day.