State & National Parks
Pettigrew State Park
Comprised of more than 60,000 acres of water and 1,200 acres of land, Pettigrew State Park is a wonderland for nature lovers and history buffs alike. Located just 20 miles west of Nags Head, Pettigrew offers the features of a coastal park with over-sized cypress trees, draping Spanish moss and sweet gum forests.
A cloud of mystery shrouds the park’s Lake Phelps. Believed to be 38,000 years old, scientists have debated the lake’s beginning for centuries. Fed only by rainfall, the lake has an average depth of 4.5 feet and a beautiful, clear appearance – quite a contrast to many other lakes in this region.
The park has found a variety of artifacts that suggest Native Americans inhabited the area as long ago as 8,000 BC. Among many of the fascinating artifacts uncovered, perhaps the most amazing is a series of 30 dugout canoes, which sank in the lake; the oldest is estimated to be 4,400 years old.
It is believed that the Algonquian Indians placed the canoes in shallow water for seasonal hunting and they somehow sank over time. Two of the canoes, in fact the nation’s longest and second oldest such relics, are displayed at the park’s visitor center. Guests are invited to rent a modern canoe to explore the area just as the early Native American explorers did.
Lake Phelps is also known for its outstanding fishing. Largemouth bass, pumpkinseed and yellow perch are abundant here. Cypress Point offers both a boardwalk and fishing pier for your convenience.
Whether on bike or foot, the park offers several trails that range from one to three miles in length and offers stunning views of wildlife, swamps and indigenous forests along the way. Be sure to take directions provided by the park.
Animals that you may encounter on your visit to Pettigrew include ducks, geese, swans, white-tailed deer, bobcats, otters, red wolves and bears. Of particular interest is the Canadian goose that can only be spotted in the cold, winter months.
Complete with a grill and picnic table, the park is home to thirteen campsites, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis, many offer varying views of the area. Additional picnic tables are scattered throughout the park.
added: December 29, 2008
updated: January 2, 2009