Carolina Beach State Park is an excellent place to enjoy recreational activities, hiking, boating and fishing. Nature photographers also enjoy the thousands of photo-ops of nature and wildlife. The park also has an interesting history. Before settlers came to the area, it was inhabited by the Cape Fear Indians. There was a clash between them and the new European settlers in 1715. Ten years later, the tribe left the area. There have been many reports of finding artifacts from this era, such as pottery, arrowheads and shells. Pirates also posed another threat to the early settlers in the area that is now Carolina Beach State Park. Settlers struggled to live there. Finally in 1726, a true settlement was established there. The Cape Fear River was named as one of the five official entry ports for commerce, which made the settlement thrive. In 1969, the state park was built to maintain the integrity of the area and the waters that flow through it.
This park is actually an island. It is built on the triangle shaped patch of land called Pleasure Island, surrounded by the Cape Fear River and Atlantic Ocean. Hiking is one of the most popular activities and there are several trails to choose from. Keep in mind that only hiking is permissible; bikes are not allowed on any trails. Sugarloaf Trail is one of the most interesting choices. The name comes from the 50-foot sand dune that is a landmark on this trail. Sugarloaf dune was a site where soldiers camped during the Civil War and was also a popular landmark for sailors in early colonial days. It is a three-mile trail, marked with orange circles for identification, beginning at the marina lot. Fiddler crab are commonly seen on this trail. Flytrap Trail is another interesting hike. It is only a half-mile and is a peaceful and shady walk. Enjoy the longleaf pines, turkey oak, savanna and pocosin trees. Note the wild Venus flytrap plants growing on the pocosin trees while hiking here. There is also a delightful wooden boardwalk and wild orchids on the trail. There are several other trails, including Campground, Swamp, Snow’s Cut and Oak Toe. Trail maps and information can be obtained at the park’s main office.
Fishing is allowed on the river bank, but a North Carolina state fishing permit is required, in addition to obtaining a park permit. Catfish, bass and several other types of fish have been caught here. Some fishermen who frequent the river claim that extremely large fish can be caught in certain places. Boating is also allowed in the park. The river is preferred by some and is deep enough to be safe for boats. There are several launch points in various places. Also boaters may use the Masonboro Sound or the waters of the Atlantic. When boating on the Atlantic, the park staff encourage seasoned boaters only, as the tidal waters are very rough. Near the Snow’s Cut and Cape Fear River, there are two launch ramps and 42 boat slips. Also available near the marina are modern restrooms, snacks and fuel. Slip renters may use the shower facility here.
A family campsite is located near Snow’s Cut. There are 83 sites, two of which are handicap-accessible. Each site includes a grill and picnic table. Water, showers and restrooms are all found nearby. There is a dump station, but recreational vehicles will find no hookups here. The campgrounds near Swamp Trail is for groups and must be reserved in advance. One site suits groups up to 25 and the other up to 35. Showers, water and restrooms are not available, but pit toilets are. Day visitors who wish to have a picnic will find the designated area on the banks of Snow’s Cut near the marina. Several picnic tables and grills are included. Water and restrooms are also available, as is a handicap-accessible picnic site. Carolina Beach State Park has several rules and regulations that must be followed to preserve the land’s integrity. To find out more information about the park rules and information or to obtain maps, view their internet site or contact the main office at:
Raleigh, NC 27699-1615
Phone: (919) 733-4181