North Carolina state parks reopen attracting eager visitors

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Saturday's early morning chill didn't keep people from indulging their pent up desire for a return to North Carolina's state parks.

'We like to come out to the park at least once a weekend," said Tracy Micciche. "To run or to hike or even take a nice walk."

Micciche told ABC11 when she and her friend Elise George pulled into a parking lot at Umstead State Park at 8:30 a.m. "It was pretty empty! I thought people didn't realize it was open, and only the hardcore people were here."


That didn't last long. Before noon, some park fans had to search for an empty spot in a lot. We saw several people walking with dogs or strollers while others jogged or rode their bikes for the first time since coronavirus concerns prompted a shutdown of public spaces like the state parks.

"So yeah, it was really nice," said Elise George. "It was a great feeling to be back out here. Couldn't wait!"

It's not quite back to normal yet at Umstead Park. Red tape restricts access to grills and picnic shelters where large groups used to gather. And while most restrooms are open, you may not find comfort stations everywhere.

But for Hillary Houghton and her two sons, "It felt amazing! We live really close, so we've been waiting for it to open up! So this morning we were like, 'We're gonna go!'"

Ian Houghton and his little brother grinned as he told us "We found some crawdads!"

And while we didn't see many people wearing masks, Houghton said "I don't think it's concerning as long as we keep our distance. We didn't really pass by many people."

Micciche had a big smile on her face too, as she said: "We'll be back here, maybe tomorrow!"

George, also smiling , responded "Not after the seven miles we just did! I need a little break!"

Here's what you need to know if you're planning a visit to one of North Carolina's state parks.
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