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Merchants Millpond State Park

A Two Hundred Year Old Millpond Features In This One Of The State Parks In North Carolina

Merchants Millpond State Park is found near the town of Gatesville in Gates County in the north eastern part of North Carolina. It is in a low lying region of the coastal plain and its highest point is only 36 feet above sea level. It is one of the more unusual of the N.C. state parks system as it is centered around a 700 acre millpond which was built two hundred years ago in 1811.

This millpond, originally known as Norfleets Millpond, was the hub of a thriving business community that had sawmills, supply stores and grist mills. It was because of this business center that it became known as the Merchants Millpond.

Eurpeans first settled in the area as early as 1660. The settlers made a living from farming and logging.

By the start of the 19th century there were two major millponds built on the small river called Bennetts Creek. The first was Norfleets, which changed its name and became Merchants Millpond, the second was Hunters Millpond which was destroyed when a road was constructed over it in 1922.

A Misty Day On Merchants Millpond

Use of the millpond came to an end with the approach of the 1940`s and the land was eventually sold by the mill owners to developers. They never made use of it and during the 1960`s a gentleman called A.B. Coleman acquired the land and donated 920 acres to the State of North Carolina. This donation of land led to the creation of Merchants Millpond State Park in 1973. That same year the Nature Conservancy donated a further 925 acres. Since then the park has grown to cover 3,250 acres of mainly swampland.

It really is a wonderland of huge cypress and Tupelo gum trees covered with Spanish moss and with their feet in the dark shallow water. This swampland is the most northerly habitat of the American alligator. Water snakes abound in the park, most of them are harmless but the venomous cottonmouth is to be avoided! Other species to inhabit this wetland are many varieties of frogs and both snapping turtles and pond turtles.

The Swamp At Merchants Millpond State Park

If you paddle a canoe or kayak around the swamp you probably won`t see a beaver but there will be plenty of evidence they exist. There are dams and lodges and the stumps of gnawed trees. You may however, spot mink, otter, raccoon, deer and the occasional bobcat.

There are a variety of campgrounds within Merchants Millpond State Park, you can reach the family campground in your vehicle, you can paddle to primitive campsites in your canoe or hike in with a backpack. Whichever you choose you will have to bring all your own supplies including drinking water.

Probably the best way to enjoy this unique park is by canoe. You can bring your own or hire one at the park. There are marked canoe trails which lead to the campgrounds for canoeists, you don`t have to stay within the park, you can follow Bennetts Creek and venture into an area called the Lassiter Swamp.

The Old Millpond At Merchants Millpond

The family campground at Merchants Millpond State Park is close to the park office but in a beautiful forest setting. There is a wash house, showers and restrooms, there are twenty sites but none of them have water or electric hook ups. The group campground facilities include a wash house with showers and there is a supply of drinking water closeby.

The fishing at the park is first class, you can catch bass, bluegill, crappie and chain pickerel. Within the park are nine miles of fascinating trails for visitors to hike, but be aware that during the warm weather insects and ticks will find you an attractive target! Bring repellant and expose as little bare skin as possible. If you wear light colored clothing the ticks are easy to spot and deal with. Don`t let this put you off enjoying what are amazing hikes.

Here is a map of Merchants Millpond State Park with all the trails and the facilities marked.

Address and contact details for the park are as follows -

Merchants Millpond State Park
Millpond Road
NC 27938-9440

Phone - (252) 357-1191

GPS coordinates
36.437 105
76.701 585

email - merchants.millpond@ncdenr.gov

Here is a county map of North Carolina with the position of the park indicated with a star.

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