Neuse River

Sunset on the Neuse River by Travis (Flickr).

The winding Neuse River begins in Piedmont, North Carolina, and empties into the Pamlico Sound. Along the way, it encompasses over 6,000 miles of watershed, making it the longest river in North Carolina. At its mouth, the Neuse is the widest river in the continental United States, measuring six miles across. This ancient waterway owes its current name to the Neusiok people, who historically lived along its banks.

Sunset on the Neuse River

Photo by Curt Fleenor.

These days, the edges of the river are lined with recreational parks and paths. The Neuse River Greenway Trail is part of the ambitious Mountain-to-Sea Trail, which runs across North Carolina, from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The Neuse provides many opportunities for people to go canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The Greenway Trail also offers scenic views of the water, bringing hikers through wetlands, agricultural fields, and historic sites on 27.5 miles of paved trail. And that’s not all–new routes are under construction!


Forrest MacCormack: “Upper Neuse Riverkeeper Alissa Bierma struggles to free a discarded vehicle tire from a tree limb”.

Unfortunately, the Neuse River is threatened by myriad sources of pollution: litter, agricultural and municipal wastewater discharge, storm runoff, etc. Nearby Falls Lake is the largest polluted drinking water reservoir in the state. In 2009, residents witnessed 100 million fish killed by pollution and ecological change. All in all, the Neuse and those creatures who inhabit it face many challenges.

It is important to care for all parts of the river and related bodies, which cover a large part of the local watershed. Many are keeping “watches” on the river as volunteers with the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, and through crowdfunded projects like this cleanup on the Upper Neuse Greenway Path.


Twins Mia and Mya Velazco posing with a shirt they designed for Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation. Photo by Forrest MacCormack.

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