Segment 15 of North Carolina's 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail takes MST travelers through the Onslow Bight, formed where the coast makes a shallow bend or "bight" between Cape Lookout and Cape Fear. With its barrier islands, marshes, riverine wetlands, pocosins, and longleaf pine savannas, the Onslow Bight is considered one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the United States.
These natural communities provide habitat for rare plants and animals, including several species that are found nowhere else in the world. The pocosins and longleaf pine forests are critical habitat for nesting and foraging red-cockaded woodpeckers, while the delicate barrier islands are essential habitat for sea turtle and water bird nesting. The area is one of the primary conservation priorities for many government and nonprofit agencies.
- Holly Shelter Game Land, where runners will see vast expanses of pocosin recovering from a major peat fire in 2011, as well as savannas of lush grasses and native plants flourishing under towering longleaf pines.
- The Onslow County Environmental Education Center's "Discover Onslow" exhibit, a great way to learn about the ecology, flora, and fauna of the Onslow Bight
- Stones Creek Game Land, nestled in Camp Lejeune, which provides a scenic walk past lakes and pine woods
- The Lejeune Memorial Gardens, with moving tributes to our nation's servicemen and women
- Crossing the White Oak River to enter the little community of Stella on the outskirts of the Croatan National Forest
The trails through Holly Shelter and Stones Creek Game Lands are marked with the MST blaze, a 3-inch white circular marker. There are also signs at certain places in Stones Creek Game Land.
Road portions of this segment are marked with blazes and signs. Blazes are on the left shoulder of the road in the direction of travel, and signs are on the right side. Note that signs are often a target of theft and vandalism, and should not be relied upon exclusively for wayfinding.
For more information, including camping, lodging, parking, shuttles, and resupply information, as well as detailed, turn-by-turn directions, download a trail guide
from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Deer, bear, turkey, fox, rabbit, raccoon and squirrel are prominent as are quail, dove and waterfowl. pine savannah, venus fly trap, maritime forest, fiddler crap, sandpiper, osprey, sea turtle, dolphin, pelican