Last Updated on September 30, 2021
Last Updated on September 30, 2021
If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.
Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in Southern Pines, or simply Weymouth Woods, is a wonderful showcase of longleaf pines that dominate much of Central North Carolina‘s outdoor landscapes. In fact, this State Parks site is home to the oldest living longleaf pine.
Along with preserve that important historical artifact, Weymouth Woods features abundant wildlife and well-connected flat trails throughout its 900 acres. Thanks to the dominant presence of towering evergreens, you can enjoy lovely scenes at this park throughout the year.
Our guide will share info on all 11 designated Weymouth Woods trails and more things to do, including some interesting history. Here’s how we’ve organized this guide:
- Weymouth Woods Facts and Ecology
- Weymouth Woods History (Ship Timber, Turpentine, and Preservation)
- Visiting Weymouth Woods Today (Tracts & Access Points)
- Weymouth Woods Trails
- Boyd Tract and Paint Hill Tract Trails
- Things to Do Nearby
Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve Facts and Ecology
Weymouth Woods is a preserved area of what used to be millions of acres of longleaf pine forests. Towering pines, some of which are hundreds of years old, loom over wiregrass and rare species.
Visitors may see the red-cockaded woodpecker, the pine barrens tree frog, the bog spicebush, the fox squirrel, as well as several wildflowers.
Weymouth Woods History (Ship Timber and Turpentine)
The sandy landscape of Southern Pines meant that the only thing to successfully thrive here was longleaf pines. While the rest of North Carolina depended on agriculture, the Sandhills region could not.
Shipbuilding Pines (and Turpentine)
Instead, the Scottish Highlanders that settled in the Sandhills in the mid-1700s used longleaf pines for shipbuilding.
Merchants cut down the forests for timber and used them for ship masts. Turpentine from the pines was used to seal sailing vessels.
Around 1850, North Carolina pine trees supplied one-third of the world’s turpentine.
When the railroad was placed in the 1870s, production and lumber increased, and unfortunately, most of the original longleaf pines were destroyed.
Conservation by James Boyd
To conserve the pines, the grandfather of James Boyd purchased the land that would become Weymouth Woods in the early 20th century.
Weymouth Woods became the first natural area in the North Carolina state parks system in April 1963. Several years later, in 1977, an additional 153 acres of satellite area were added and is home to pine trees ranging from 250-450 years old.
The oldest known living longleaf pine tree in the world is in the Boyd Round Timer Tract. The tree dates back to 1548.
The Visitor Center showcases museum-quality exhibits that allow visitors to Weymouth Woods to learn more about the longleaf forest, other species, and the area’s unique history.
Visiting Weymouth Woods Today (Tracts and Access Points)
Visitors can visit Weymouth Woods at three different access points. Here they are, along with an address to the main tract.
Weymouth Woods Tract: 1024 Fort Bragg Road, Southern Pines, NC 28387
For the Boyd Tract and Paint Hill Tract, no addresses are listed and NC Parks advises contacting park staff before visiting.
Weymouth Woods Trails (Weymouth Woods Tract)
There are 11 officially designated Weymouth Woods trails, with 8 of them at the main access, 2 at the Paint Hill Tract, and 1 at the Boyd Tract.
Each is fairly short and easy to navigate.
Equestrian trails also run through the Weymouth Woods Tract and the Boyd Tract.
Bower’s Bog Trail
0.3 miles (Red Circle Blaze)
The Bower’s Bog Trail starts at the Visitor Center and loops through an upland bog where hikers can see ferns, pitcher plants, and shrubs.
It also connects to the Lighter Stump Trail.
2.6 miles (White Square Blaze)
The Equestrian Trail can be accessed at the corner of Bethesda Rd. and Connecticut Ave or through several intersections with the Holly Road Trail and Pine Island Trail.
It loops through the northern half of the preserve and is good for both hiking and horseback riding.
There is another Equestrian Trail at the Boyd Tract.
Gum Swamp Trail
0.5 miles (Orange Circle Blaze)
Gum Swamp Trail is accessed off of Pine Barrens Trail and travels along the swamp’s edge where the James Creek flows. It connects to the Holly Road Trail via the Moccasin Crossing.
Holly Road Trail
1.8 miles (Red Triangle Blaze)
Holly Road Trail connects with Gum Swamp Trail and Pine Island Trail. This trail loops through the northern half of the preserve.
Lighter Stump Trail
0.5 miles (Orange Triangle Blaze)
Lighter Stump Trail connects Bower’s Bog Trail with Pine Island Trail. Longleaf pines border it on one side and hardwoods and lower wet areas on the other side.
0.1 miles (Blue Circle Blaze)
Moccasin Crossing is a short trail that connects the Gum Swamp Trail to the Holly Road Trail and crosses over James Creek via a bridge.
Pine Barrens Trail
1.0 miles (Blue Triangle Blaze)
Pine Barrens Trail is the park’s official TRACK Trail and starts from the Visitor Center. It runs through the longleaf pine forest and connects to the Gum Swamp Trail.
Pine Island Trail
0.5 miles (Blue Circle Blaze)
Pine Island Trail starts from the easternmost point of Holly Road Trail and is also accessible from the north end of Lighter Stump Trail. This loop trail will take you to a 300-foot long boardwalk that crosses over swampland.
Round Timber Trail (Boyd Tract)
The Round Timber Trail (1 mile) is the only Weymouth Woods trail at the Boyd Tract, which like the Paint Hill Tract, is separated from the Weymouth Woods Tract. This is the trail where you’ll find the oldest living longleaf pine.
The tree is not on the trail but is easy to see and close enough to investigate. Use caution when venturing off-trail, especially during warmer months when venomous snakes could be around.
Pyxie Moss Trail and Fox Squirrel Loop (Paint Hill Tract)
At the Paint Hill Tract, you have two trails to explore. The Fox Squirrel Loop (0.5 miles) connects to the longer Pyxie Moss Trail (0.8 miles) at 3 different points, so you can easily extend your hike at any time.
More Things to Do at Weymouth Woods
After hiking those Weymouth Woods Trails, you can enjoy a picnic at one of the tables around the Visitor Center or at the Longleaf Pine Overlook.
Birding is also a fun activity at Weymouth Woods and you can come to investigate them throughout the year. The park also hosts special events that are open to the public.
With an amazing network of trails and fun ways to explore them, we’re hooked on Weymouth Woods. If you’ve visited, you probably know what we’re talking about.
We’d love to know what you think about this park and its surroundings in Moore County. If you haven’t made it yet, let us know about your first impression of the preserve.
Things To Do Nearby
Southern Pines is the closest place to investigate nearby and Pinehurst isn’t too far away either. Here’s a breakdown of each Moore County town.
Southern Pines is an adorable North Carolina small town with plenty of local charm.
Tee off with these things to do in Pinehurst! Moore County is home to 40 world-renowned golf courses, with the most prestigious being Pinehurst Resort.
After you’ve sharpened your irons, enjoy the local shops and New England-style Village. Make sure to stay hydrated by stopping by Pinehurst Brewing Company for a pint and some barbecue.
Head to the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens if you want to extend your time in nature while in the Southern Pines area. Spread out over 32 acres, the gardens are beautifully maintained and cared for by the students of Sandhills Community College.
We really consider it a hidden gem, and the free admission is just a bonus feature!