Last summer I took a little bike/hammock trip from Raleigh, NC to the Outer Banks. I had a lot of concerns about the feasibility of hammocking on this route, so I thought I'd (finally) put the results up.
Day 1: Raleigh to Kinston.
Longest day, or at least the longest planned day. gunner76 helpfully pointed out a campground in Kinston that was not on my map. I had originally planned on camping at Cliffs of the Neuse, but Kinston got me a little farther along. I kept Cliffs as a backup in case my legs failed me, but they didn't.
Neuseway Park is a nice, little spot. Right across the river from down town, so, had I gotten there earlier, I would have been able to enjoy the town. As it was, I pulled in, set up camp, made dinner, and went to bed.
Hammock-friendly? I don't know. When I got in, there was no one manning the place, and that was fine, because I didn't want to be told to go to ground. Trees were plentiful, including some lovely, river-side spots, but I went to the edge of campground where I was less likely to draw attention with my hammock. By the time anyone got to the office, I had already struck camp and packed, so I never found out how they felt about my tent. At under $10/night, this is a nice, little place. Showers and a park, but not really "getting away from it all" given its close proximity to town.
Day 2: Kinston to Croatan.
Was supposed to be my shortest, easiest day, and maybe it was, but it was neither as short nor as easy as I had hoped. Google gave me a nice route in to Croatan, or so I thought. When I hit the road into Croatan, I saw why gunner76 had expressed concerns about the quality of back roads through Croatan.
It was actually surprisingly easy to ride on for the short time I went before hitting this:
I was tempted to trespass, but without any way of knowing the path remained passable all the way to the Croatan, I decided to cut my losses and go a longer way around. The long way around took me on some gravel roads that were considerably less pleasant than the hard dirt road that I thought I was going to be on. Between slow going on the gravel and my detour, I ended up calling it quits early. The plan had been to camp on the Neusiok Trail, but I wasn't going to get there before dark, and wasn't sure I could find it without light, so I headed for Flanners Beach.
Hammock-friendly? Not especially. There were pretty clearly marked out camping areas that were largely cleared of plants, which makes for some tricky hanging. I did see that many sites had plenty of trees around them, but they were clearly outside of the designated tent areas. Whether or not I would have been hassled about the hammock, I don't know. There were no rangers around. I did find one site that had a few adequately-spaced trees within the boundary of the camp site, so that's where I went. It was a tight squeeze, and I had to take my whoopie slings to the minimum, but I got to hang that night.
Also in the "con" category: this site was very close to military airstrip. I was awakened by some deafening aircraft that I was fairly certain was going to land right on top of me.
Day 3: Croatan to Ocrakoke.
The original plan had been to camp about 15 miles further down the road, wake up early, and dash for the ferry to Ocrakoke. With an hour and a half deficit, I got up extra early, barely ate, and headed off. I did manage to find the Neusiok Trail, but I was too worried about time to stop and explore.
Again Google led to roads that weren't roads, and this time the detour cost me my ferry. I had skimped on eating and resting, trying to make up lost time, but it had only left me more exhausted with no hope of getting the ferry I wanted. I had also gone by the last, reasonable place to get a decent meal on the assumption that there were more populated places up ahead. There were not. I scavenged at a gas station for a snack and pushed on towards the ferry, unsure if I would be able to catch one or would have to camp at the ferry station. I did catch a ferry, but I was beat by that point. I wanted to make some progress up the Outer Banks before night, but my new plan was to stop at the first, affordable place I could find, be it a campground, a hotel, or an bit of undeveloped land where I wouldn't be seen, eat, and call it a day. The place I found was, I believe, Teeter's campground. It was right in the small, touristy town of Ocrakoke. I think it was Teeter's, but don't take my word for it. I'm not going to recommend it, and I'd hate to besmirch the wrong establishment.
Hammock-friendly? No. Not really terribly tent-friendly. It was primarily an RV park, but it did have a couple of sites set aside for tents. I was one of two tents, which was nice because the RVs were kind of packed in, but with only two tents, the tent sites were comparatively spacious. If you wanted a place to sack out after spending the day partying in Ocrakoke, this is probably the cheapest place within staggering distance. But it's basically a field packed with RVs with a restroom/shower. My back yard is more rustic, and I live in an apartment complex. But it fit my primary criteria: I could afford it, although I don't remember being impressed with the rates, but then it was still likely the cheapest place to sleep in Ocrakoke. The tree situation was so dismal, that I had pretty much resolved to go to ground, but I found that if I stretched my suspension to max, I could hit two trees. One of the trees appeared to be covered with poison ivy, but I decided to risk it. I could not, however get my tent 100% off the ground. I put my foam pad under the hammock as kind of a ground cloth, and my butt rested on that. It was actually not bad as far as comfort went. However my tarp suspension line wasn't long enough, so I connected it to the hammock suspension. That didn't work great, and I was a little sloppy with it, so when a storm blew through in the middle of the night, I found myself out in it re-pitching the tarp. Even then I never got it quite where it needed to be. I kept mostly dry by grabbing the side of my tent and pinching the tarp in place during the worst of the storm. Still, I did stay mostly dry when I'm pretty sure my ground-camping neighbors ended up inside their car. You can see the dry spot under my poor, sagging tent.
Day 4: North up the banks.
The last day was stress-free because I had determined that there was absolutely no way for me to get to my final destination in an acceptable amount of time. As a result, I arranged for my wife, who was meeting at the end of the trip, to pick me up en route. All I had to do was keep going north until me met up. So I stopped at Ocrakoke National Park to see how hammock-friendly it might be. I can't really see how you'd hammock camp there. It was mostly sand dunes. I also stopped at the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. I didn't go all the way to the campground, but there did appear to be some wooded areas, so it's possible that hammock camping would be possible there. However I've been told that they're not too keen on hammocks at the Frisco National Park down the road, so it wouldn't surprise me if Hatteras was the same.
Some of the more northern areas around Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills looked like they might have some stealth camping potential, and there's a campground in there somewhere as well, but I never checked it out. The rest of my trip was spent at a beach house, where I did have a place to hang my hammock, but at night I slept in a bed.
I may try a variation of this trip again, but I will need to allow more time/easier days so that I can sufficiently unwind and enjoy the trip and so that an unexpected detour or two doesn't completely blow my schedule.