I arrived before the heat of the day Saturday at Medoc Mountain State Park to celebrate the grand opening of the Park’s new bike trails—the first bike trails in the region and a new opportunity for mountain bike enthusiasts to get to know Medoc. The Park is located closest to the community of Hollister, north of Rocky Mount and east of Henderson– this is not an area of North Carolina that you tend to “happen upon.” You’ve got to set off to this Park with intention, and you’ll be glad you did. You’ll lose cell signal once you’re within ten miles of the park, but you won’t mind.
Enthusiastic cyclists arrived early and ready to hit the trails. Saponi Loop is a 3.3 mile “moderate” trail that partially follows existing hiking trails. Pyrite Loop is an entirely new 5.3 mile trail with natural rock and tree obstacles and is rated “difficult” for those of you who enjoy a rocky, rooty challenge. Not yet a confident cyclist, I set off on foot to get to know Medoc.
Before you’ve gotten far enough in to Bear Swamp Trail to get your heart rate up, you’ll find you’re immersed in the forest and incredible tranquility. As our daily lives become more and more jam packed, the places like Medoc Mountain State Park really rise to the top as a treasured refuge from the daily grind. The fresh, sweet smell of the air, the intense green of the plants, trees, and moss, the rocky earth under your feet– all of these things are abundant and free.
The trails at Medoc will remind you of mountain trails, only with more forgiving hills and less wildlife that is higher on the food chain than you are. Pack a snack and plenty of water and take your time on these trails– there is a lot more to see if you slow down and look closely.
Along the trail, I saw incredible displays of bright green moss, fields of native ferns, and trees that have twisted into funky shapes to reach the sun. With over nine miles of trails, you’re likely to find yourself alone for most of your hike—allowing you to feel truly immersed in this unique and inviting ecosystem.
In addition to the new trails, Medoc offers a pristine fishing stream reminiscent of another day and age that beckons in the heat, and a sprawling meadow big enough for flying kites or a game of football. Camping facilities are available near the meadow and covered picnic area.
Medoc Mountain State Park is a hidden gem that warrants a visit. Bring your bike or your best pair of hiking boots to traverse the rocky trails. See you there!