Segment 12: Agricultural Heartland
Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center to Suggs Mill Pond Game Land
Distance: 65.8 miles (2.2 on trail, 63.6 on road)
Trail Communities: Newton Grove, Roseboro
- Check Trail Updates before starting your hike.
By Kate Dixon, Jim Grode and Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
This 66-mile segment traverses one of the most productive agricultural areas in North Carolina. It passes through Bentonville Battlefield, the site of the largest Civil War battle in the state, crosses three popular paddling rivers, and goes through two of Sampson County’s picturesque small towns.
The farms of Johnston, Sampson, and Cumberland Counties along the route produce a diversity of products. As you walk, look for tobacco, cotton, sweet potatoes, hogs, turkeys, cattle, soybeans, and forestry. Great agricultural soils and climate, fairly flat topography, and good rainfall have led Sampson County to be ranked first in North Carolina in agricultural crops and second in livestock and poultry, and the areas you will visit in southern Johnston and eastern Cumberland Counties produce similar crops in abundance.
This segment is a great place to explore by bike as well as on foot because all but 2.2 miles is still on paved roads.
- The 2,800-acre Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center in the vast Neuse floodplain. Sometimes called the Let’Lones, this is the western end of Segment 12.
- Bentonville Battlefield, now a North Carolina historic site. The trail route takes you through fields and forests, past historical displays that help you envision the battle as it unfolded in March 1865.
- Great Coharie Creek and Little Coharie Creek, named for the Native American tribe that is still based in Sampson County today. Look for the bridges crossing these popular paddling destinations.
- The 2,100-acre Pondberry Bay Plant Conservation Preserve between Roseboro and Salemburg, which is being managed to enhance habitat for rare and endangered native plants and wildlife. The trail route follows the roads around this preserve.
- The towns of Newton Grove and Roseboro. Newton Grove, first incorporated in 1879, grew up to serve the vibrant farming community in that area. Roseboro, incorporated in 1891, was built along the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad line, which ran from Fayetteville to Wilmington.
- The South River, a blackwater river, famed for paddling. Look for the bridge crossing over this beautiful river at the Sampson/Cumberland county line.
- Bushy Lake Natural Area, part of the NC state parks system, which is located along the trail route on Gip and Turnbull Roads in Cumberland County. Look for the kiosk at an entrance into the natural area on Turnbull Road.