Merchants Millpond Trip
Put In - 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, takeUS 158 east. Travel north on US 13/US 158 and turn right to follow US 158 east. The park entrance will be on the right.
Distance/Time - Made 4 trips over the two days visiting the park. Boat Ramp to Family Campsite 1(orange buoys) - .8 mile; Campsite to Bennet Creek - 7.5 miles; Night Trip - 1.5 miles; Campsite to Boat Ramp - 1.7 miles; Total 11.5 miles
Difficulty - Above Average, need to be aware of where you at all times. A GPS really helped find and explore Bennet Creek.
Trip Directions - The most interesting trip was the one up Bennet Creek. This is the major creek that serves the pond. The park has come through and cleared all the downed trees from Hurricane Isabel, September 18, 2003. A vast amount of old hardwood trees were felled because of Isabel. Bennet Creek can be followed also by looking for the orange blaze ribbons that follow the creek at various places. The blazes are getting old so you have to look hard for some of them. We had to open a small waterway in a beaver dam about 3/4 of the way in. Finally you just hit low water and downed trees and can go no further. At this point we also lost satellite reception on the GPS because of tree cover and being confined by hills on both side of the creek. Had a half moon on the night trip, so paddling was very easy and great fun.
Scenery - A fabulous place for all kinds of wildlife from birds, turtles, insects, etc. See the pictures.
Hazards - You must be aware of ticks in this area. The park also says alligators exist in the pond, but we never saw a one and we were looking.