Country Crossroads Trail
Johnston County is a community of rural X-roads, farms and church families, where locals often meet at country stores for supplies and gossip. Enjoy these “off-the-beaten” path tours featuring out of the way attractions such as Atkinson's Mill, strawberry picking or stopping by a local farmer's market and why not picnic in a managed forest. This tour is certainly worth the time and effort to see and experience what lies beyond the highway on Johnston County’s X-Roads.
9:30am Tobacco Farm Life Museum
Learn more about area farmers and their families and the difference from the “old ways” of the 19th century and today…and what has remained the same…the love for the land. Tour the 6,000 square foot museum that chronicles the everyday life of Eastern North Carolina farm families and explore the depression era homestead including the kitchen, packhouse, and tobacco barn. Admission fee. 1 hour
10:30am Atkinson’s Mill
Built in 1757, Atkinson’s Mill has been in continuous operation for over 250 years. It is the only water-powered gristmill in the area. The cornmeal is stone ground and is noted for its quality. Owners of the mill will give you a tour of the mill’s operation and the history of the family owners. Don’t forget a trip to the gift shop on site for the best biscuit mix anywhere!! Free. 1 hour.
12:00N Picnic at Howell Wood’s
Stop by a local BBQ place like Smithfield's Chicken n' BBQ for a picnic style lunch and travel to Howell Woods to enjoy lunch under their shelter. Howell woods is a 2,856 acre “outdoor” classroom of managed forest and 25-miles of unpaved roads and trails open for individual or small group horseback riding, mountain biking, bird watching, long and/or short distance hiking, no-trace camping and fishing. Trails open Sunrise-Sunset. Fee charged for horseback riding, fishing and hunting. Reservations are required for programs. 2 hours.
2:00pm Bentonville Battlefield
Located in the village of Bentonville in southeast Johnston County, this 6,000 acre battlefield is in pristine condition. The historic site offers a 20-minute introductory video that explains the three-day battle against General Sherman as he marched from Atlanta near the end of the war. Confederate General Joseph Johnson waged the only offensive against Sherman’s destructive march. The site’s museum and gift shop are on the tour and include a fiber optic map of the battle. After touring the museum plan to visit the Harper House, which was the home of John Harper and his family. They resided upstairs as the Union Army converted the downstairs into a field hospital. Over 4,000 soldiers were wounded or killed in the intense battle. Free. 2 hours
Be on the lookout during the drive back to I-95 via NC Hwy 701 for local farmers selling produce during the summer months. Take the time to stop for strawberries in April-May, peaches, tomatoes and corn in July and a variety of vegetables all summer long.