Merchants Millpond State Park

Quick Facts

Merchants Millpond State Park

North Carolina

(252) 357-1191

Map Directions

Things To Do


An "enchanted forest," primitive species of fish relatively unchanged over millions of years, towering bald cypress trees with massive trunks, luxuriant growths of Spanish moss --this is Merchants Millpond State Park. Here, coastal pond and southern swamp forest mingle, creating one of North Carolina's rarest ecological communities. Together with upland forests, these environments create a haven for wildlife and humanity alike.

Escape the hectic pace of life and find sanctuary in a canoe. Drift along the smooth, dark surface of the millpond and savor the many sights and sounds that come alive in the stillness of the forest. Journey into remote and undisturbed Lassiter Swamp, a place that embodies the spirit of adventure, and see what you can discover.

Map of Merchants Millpond (NC)

Latitude, Longitude: 36.433220, -76.678778



  • Boating

    Rent a canoe or bring your own; the best way to explore Merchants Millpond is by gliding across the park's placid, shallow waters. A boat ramp and pier near the parking area offer access to the water. Marked canoe trails lead from the boat ramp to canoe campsites. Or, venture out of the millpond and take slow-moving, dark-water Bennetts Creek through Lassiter Swamp. Here, park visitors are transported into a world of mistletoe, hanging Spanish moss and ancient cypress trees.

  • Bicycling

    In all parks, bicycles are permitted only on those trails or other park areas specifically designated for their use.

  • Camping

    Reach two canoe camps by way of canoe trails leading from the boat ramp. Orange markers lead to the family canoe camp with 10 sites. Yellow markers lead to the group canoe camp, which offers three sites. Pit toilets are available, but campers must carry in all supplies, including water.

    Reach five campsites for backpack camping by hiking a side trail off Lassiter Trail. Campers must pack all supplies, including water, to the sites. A pit toilet is nearby. Views of the "enchanted forest" and Lassiter Swamp await those who travel to the backpack camping area.

    The family campground is in the midst of a pine/hardwood forest just beyond the park office. Twenty campsites for tents and trailers offer picnic tables and grills. A washhouse with drinking water, restrooms and showers serves the campground. Water or electrical hookups are not available at individual sites.

    Organized groups will enjoy a stay in the walk-in group camping area or in a canoe camping group site. Facilities for the walk-in sites include a small washhouse with a pay shower. Drinking water is available nearby.

  • Climbing

    Many rare plants live on thin soils and wet rocks, and are vulnerable to damage from climbing, trampling and scraping.

  • Fishing

    Cast your line from the bank or journey into the millpond to fish in a pastoral setting. Small fishing craft (with trolling motors only) may be launched at the boat ramp. Largemouth bass, bluegill, chain pickerel and black crappie are waiting to bite the hook! The Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) manages the millpond fisheries. All boating and fishing regulations of the WRC apply.

  • Hiking

    Nine miles of trails with many varied habitats offer a place to stretch muscles left stiff from hours of canoeing. Merchants Millpond is heavily infested with ticks during warm weather months; be cautious while hiking. Insect repellent may help prevent a tick bite and the possibility of disease. Tuck trousers into long socks and tuck a long-sleeved shirt into pants. Check often for ticks. Wear light colors so that ticks may be easily spotted and removed.

  • Historic Sites

    In the early 1700s, Hunters Millpond was built at the head of Bennetts Creek to provide a means of processing and marketing regional produce. Highway construction destroyed this millpond in 1922. But further downstream, Norfleets Millpond, which was built in 1811, thrived. Gristmills, a sawmill, a farm supply store and other enterprises made the area the center of trade in Gates County. Thus, the pond became known as Merchants Millpond.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    Motorized vehicles are permitted only in designated areas and not permitted on park trails.

  • Picnicking

    The shade of large trees offers a place to picnic within view of the millpond. Located north of the canoe access area, the A.B. Coleman Picnic Area has 28 tables, one picnic shelter and restroom facilities. Picnic sites are available on a first-come basis free of charge. The picnic shelter may be reserved for a fee.

  • RVing

    Rving is permitted with electrical hookups. Shared water available.

  • Water Sports

    Troll motor boating, fishing, and canoeing are popular water sports.



Merchants Millpond is located in northeastern North Carolina in Gates County near the community of Gatesville. The park may be reached from US 158, NC 32 and NC 37. It is approximately 30 miles from the North Carolina cities of Ahoskie, Elizabeth City and Edenton and is also 30 miles from Suffolk, Virginia. From I-95, take US 158 east. Travel north on US 13/US 158 and turn right to follow US 158 east. Turn right on Millpond Road, go approximately 1/2 mile and turn in at the picnic area entrance. The Visitors Center will be on the right.

Phone Numbers


(252) 357-1191