In 1916, The North Carolina State Park System “came to be” in order to protect and support the state’s remarkable ecology. It’s been 100 years since the system was established and the N.C. State Park system is celebrating by rolling out new and exciting opportunities like unique experiences for your next camping, hiking, environmental education and ecological system exploration trips!
The 761-acre park will celebrate the N.C. Parks Centennial and Carolina Beach State Park’s 47th birthday celebration on May 14, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. The event will host several presentations that interpret park history and provide special hikes for visitors. Nearby Kure Beach, N.C. will celebrate with a fall festival at Fort Fisher State Recreational Area with Halloween games, inflatable bouncy houses and more.
The Carolina Beach area is home to a number of state parks located on this beautiful coastline and offers a number of opportunities to explore all nature has to offer with the people in your life that matter most! Pick this location for camping, hiking, fishing and more!
Sleep Under the Stars
Camping is a great way to create memories with your family and instill a love of nature to even the youngest family members. Pitch a tent, make tasty S’mores, and laugh around the campfire with friends and family- all while creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Family camping is available in a wooded area near Snow’s Cut, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway connecting the Cape Fear River with the Atlantic Ocean. Pine and oak trees provide shade for 83 campsites which include picnic tables, grills, drinking water, restrooms and hot showers. Group camping for organized groups are located along the Swamp Trail and available by reservation only. The two areas include picnic tables, grills and pit toilets but do not offer water or shower facilities.
Explore the Park on Foot or Boat
Take in the views by boat on the fresh waters of Cape Fear River, estuarine waters of Masonboro Sound and the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A 54-slip marina is available with two public boat ramps along with a marina store supplying fuel, snacks, fishing and camping gear. To enjoy a slower-paced scenic tour of the waters, PaddleNC rents individual kayaks and stand-up paddle boards for public use, as well as guided tours of the waters.
On land, trails span out for close to 6 miles for all visitors to enjoy peace and quiet, as well as to observe plant and wildlife in the park. Trail maps available at the visitor’s center or marina.
Families will love setting up picnics near the bank of Snow’s Cut, which provides shade, tables and grills. Public water, restrooms and parking are located nearby. Visitors can then spend the day fishing on boat, by the riverbank or on a fishing deck to catch spot, flounder, sheepshead and speckled trout. A fishing license is required.
Pay Attention to the Sights and Sounds of the Park
Rare plant life can be found throughout Carolina Beach State Park, including pine forests next to sand dunes, shrub swamps and brackish marshes and limesink ponds. One of the most unusual ponds, Cypress Pond, is dominated by a dwarf cypress swamp forest. Carnivorous plants such as the Venus Flytrap thrive in the boggy soil around the edges of the ponds and survive by trapping and digesting insects. The flytraps are only native within 60-75 miles of Wilmington.
Birdwatching is spectacular at the park. Brown pelicans, warblers, finches, woodpeckers, prairie warblers, ospreys can be found throughout. Amphibians such as frogs, snakes and skinks can be found in the marshy areas and an occasional alligator will wander into the marina. The park is filled with white-tailed deer, raccoons, grey squirrels, opossums, and cottontails. Rarely seen animals include the fox squirrel, gray fox and river otter.
Guests can check out the Visitors Center to learn and play at the biodiversity theater, understand the importance of prescribed burning of the park and study carnivorous plants via a touch screen interactive learning kiosk. Kids and adults alike will love the maze game that lets you pretend to be an insect, navigating a ball through the park maze and avoid getting eaten by a carnivorous plant by taking the wrong turn.
Read about the North Carolina State Park 100 Year Celebrations and Outdoor Opportunities for you and your family to experience in this issue of Eastern Home and Travel!
Photos and information courtesy of NC State Parks and Eastern Home and Travel.