Paddling Merchant's Millpond State Park 2010

Our new kayak, Clem, at Merchant's Millpond State Park, NC
Clem at Merchant's Millpond State Park

Trees in water at Merchant's Millpond State Park, NC
Enchanted Millpond

RV in Merchant's Millpond State Park

We finally had a stretch of good weather in March 2010 and were able to take our new RV and our new kayak, Clem, out for a couple of days. We selected Merchant's Millpond State Park in Gates County NC. It proved to be a great trip.

We had the family campground to ourselves. There are no RV hookups at Merchant's Millpond State Park. However the restrooms have great showers. We found that our RV with its propane frig and 12 volt lights worked quite well. Didn't miss the hookups at all.

Bald cypress at Merchant's Millpond
Bald cypress in Merchant's Millpond

Merchant's Millpond is an enchanted place with the moss draped bald cypress trees in the water. We last visited here in 2003 and vowed to return. It took 7 years, but we finally made it. The 2003 winter was not as cold as this year so although we were here at about the same time of year, things were a little bit behind 2003. Trees were a little bit more budded out and there were more birds around in 2003.

Turtles sunning at Merchant's Millpond, NC
Small turtle enjoying the sun Merchant's Millpond, NC

Because of the wet winter, there was plenty of water in the millpond. We spent most of the day exploring the millpond and the adjoining Lassiter Swamp. The various clumps or groves of trees throughout the millpond and the swamp provide an endless variety of paths to paddle. And if you get lost all you need to do is paddle until you come to the markers for one of the paddle trails. (Or use a GPS.)

Bald Cypress in Merchant's Millpond, NC

We saw lots of turtles taking advantage of the warm sun and a turkey vulture looking for lunch--but that was about all the wildlife we saw. We did see a pair of geese as we were paddling back to the boat ramp. Last time we saw woodpeckers, geese, ducks, a hawk, and several other birds. I'm still looking for the alligator.

Early spring is a good time to visit Merchant's Millpond because the bugs and snakes aren't out yet. Later in the year ticks can be an especially difficult thing to deal with if you want to hike the trails.

There is a new visitor station at the park. It is really nice. Interesting exhibits about the park and the wildlife that lives there. It's great to see the North Carolina is making major improvements in the various parks.

If you ever find yourself in Gates County, NC, you should stop and visit the Merchant's Millpond State Park. A kayak or canoe is the best way to visit the park (you avoid the ticks for one thing). If you don't have your own kayak or canoe, you can rent one at the park.

Bald Cypress Merchants Millpond, NC 2010
Bald Cypress Merchants Millpond, NC 2010