North Carolina's Croatan National Forest is a unique coastal ecosystem set between the Atlantic Ocean and the Neuse River and interlaced with the sea's nurseries, called estuaries, where oysters, shrimp, and crab reproduce and grow to maturity. Croatan's Catfish Lake South Wilderness is primarily raised bogland, where biting insects try to steal the spotlight from the American alligator and the cottonmouth, canebrake rattler, eastern diamondback rattler, pygmy rattler, copperhead, and other poisonous snakes. Five genera of insectivorous plants live here, a combination rarely seen elsewhere: the erect pitcher plant; the hairy, sticky round-leafed sundew; the waxy, "buttery" butterwort; the hinged-leafed Venus flytrap; and the aquatic, floating bladderwort. You may see deer, bears, squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons, all of which may be hunted according to state law. Sleek muskrats, minks, and otters are common. On the Atlantic Flyway, Catfish Lake attracts ducks and geese. Bird lovers have also spotted egrets, flycatchers, woodpeckers, hawks, woodcocks, owls, and ospreys. The Wilderness, which is bordered by roads and on the northeast by Catfish Lake, offers nothing in the way of trails--just lots of chances to find yourself the victim of some hungry pest. The lake draws a few anglers who hope to hook bass, redbreast, bluegill, chain pickerel, warmouth, yellow perch, and, of course, catfish. If you brought your pole, prepare to be disappointed due to the lake's high acidity.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Catfish Lake South Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.