“The Onslow Bight and Jacksonville: Holly Shelter Game Land to Stella on the White Oak River”
— Jim Grode
Features: Birding — River/Creek — Swimming — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Need to Know
Hunting is permitted in the Stones Creek and Holly Shelter game lands, including hunting for deer and bear with dogs from mid-October through January 1. Always wear blaze orange when walking on these properties. Learn about hunting seasons and regulations before your trip at ncwildlife.org/Hunting/Laws…
The longest stretch of trail without access to water is in the Holly Shelter Game Land. Visitors are encouraged to bring adequate water with them into this section. Surface water in Holly Shelter can be scarce and much of it is highly tannic and may be unpalatable.
Segments 11-16 of the MST offer three options while construction of the MST is underway along the Neuse River between Smithfield and the Neusiok Trail in the Croatan National Forest: The “A” route, a paddling route on the Neuse River; the “B” pedestrian route, known as the Coastal Crescent; and the “C” route, the historic foot traffic/biking route. This guide follows the Coastal Crescent route; for more information about the other routes, visit Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail’s trail guide page
Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base and the city of Jacksonville lie in the center of this segment. Much of the MST route from Sneads Ferry through Jacksonville follows roads that skirt the massive base. Visitors will see plenty of signs of the military presence—from people in uniform, to military vehicles, to signs along the highway.
There is no signing or blazing on this segment. Portions of this trail are marked from Holly Shelter through Surf City.
For more information about the segment, including camping, lodging, parking, shuttles, resupply information, and trail angels, as well as detailed, turn-by-turn directions, download a trail guide
from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Flora & Fauna
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
History & Background
The story of the top-secret military operation that took place in the 1940’s on Topsail Island that changed the history of aviation and warfare and continues to draw visitors each year to Topsail Island.
Driving along Topsail Island’s coastal roads, you might spot a tall, white concrete tower overlooking the ocean. If you look closely, you’ll find not one, but eight towers overlooking the glimmering Atlantic, relics of a secret operation that helped launch the US into space and into history. Operation Bumblebee, which took place in the mid 40’s, was a top-secret missile testing operation that gave the US its first strategic surface-to-air missiles and introduced new technology that helped produce the SR-71 Blackbird and the space shuttle.