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Smithfield, NC Area Recreation Overview

Outdoor recreation attractions throughout Johnston County in the Smithfield, NC area.

By Kevin Litwin on February 16, 2015

Neuse River in Smithfield, NC
Smithfield / Ian Curcio

Looking for places to exercise and play in Smithfield and Johnston County? Here’s a look at some of the best parks, recreation centers and golf courses in Johnston County. 

Smithfield Recreation & Aquatics Center

A joint venture between the Town of Smithfield and Johnston County Schools, the community center has an eight-lane swimming pool, children’s play pool, walking track, two racquetball courts, strength training room and aquatics programs. The SRAC is an annual membership-based facility with affordable rates.

Smithfield Community Park

The park consists of three softball fields, one baseball field, tennis courts, basketball courts, horseshoe courts, sand volleyball court, youth soccer fields and a mile-long walking trail. There is also a tiny tot playground and picnic areas with grills.

Legend Park

This Clayton attraction is known for its eight-mile mountain bike trail that is ideal for beginners to advanced riders. The multi-directional trail offers rock gardens, boulders, jumps and bridges. The facility can also be used by hikers, and admission is free. A ball field is also part of the park.

Golf Courses

Pine Hollow Golf Club is a par 71 course in Clayton that opened in 1968. Its manageable 6,333-yard length and affordable rates make it a popular venue. Riverwood Golf & Athletic Club offers a 27-hole, championship-quality layout near Clayton. The course incorporates natural scenery and terrain along the Neuse River. It measures 7,200 yards and free lunch is included in the greens fee. The Neuse is a semi-private club featuring an 18-hole championship layout that has received many accolades over the years, including a 4 1/2-star rating from Golf Digest. The course features Bermuda fairways and bentgrass greens.

Clemmons Educational State Forest

The first of North Carolina’s Educational State Forests, Clemmons opened in 1976 and features self-guided trails as well as ranger-conducted classes. It has been developed as a living outdoor classroom that is open from mid-March to mid-November.

Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center

This 2,856-acre outdoor classroom contains a mature bottomland hardwood forest, swamps, a natural cypress-tupelo-gum swamp and longleaf pine forests. There is a bird-feeding demonstration area, bluebird box trail and nearly 25 miles of unpaved roads and trails.

Neuse River

Travelers to Johnston County can experience canoe trips and eagle sightings on the Neuse River. The Neuse flows 200 miles, with 50 miles through Johnston County. There is also a Neuse River Walk for scenery lovers. The river is regarded as gentle and the deepest water is about chest high.

Flower Hill Natural Area

The spacious attraction in Middlesex features a 100-foot mountain with plant life and rhododendrons blooming in May. Flower Hill is open year round.

Learn more about the outdoors in Smithfield.

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