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North Carolina

North Carolina State Parks

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USA Parks
North Carolina
Coastal - Eastern Region
Carolina Beach State Park
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Carolina Beach State Park © / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Carolina Beach State Park
Carolina Beach State Park © Mx. Granger / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Yellow pitcher plants on the Flytrap Trail at Carolina Beach State Park
Carolina Beach State Park © / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Carolina Beach State Park
Carolina Beach State Park © FL Smith / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A sandy trail at Carolina Beach State Park one of many through native Loblolly Pines Pinus taeda woodlands.Located on Pleasure Island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in New Hanover County, far southeastern North Carolina.
Carolina Beach State Park © Johnmcmains / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Walking up the Sugar Loaf Sand dune.
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1010 State Park Road
Carolina Beach, North Carolina   28428
(lat:34.0468 lon:-77.9071) map location

Phone: 910-458-8206
With a marina providing access to some of North Carolina's best fishing spots, a secluded camping area beneath towering trees, and miles of hiking trails that traverse a variety of distinct habitatsnot to mention the presence of the Venus flytrap, one of the world's most unique carnivorous plantsit's no wonder Carolina Beach State Park is a popular coastal attraction. Located in an area steeped in both history and natural diversity, the park includes a visitor's center with exhibits depicting the wonders of its environment.
Nature of the Area
Three limesink ponds, each vegetated by a unique plant community, are found in the park. Cypress Pond, the most unusual limesink pond in the park, is dominated by a dwarf cypress swamp forest. Lily Pond is occupied by the broad, oval leaves and beautiful, white flowers of water lilies, which cover its waters in early summer. Grass Pond, which dries out almost every year, is filled with a variety of aquatic sedges. Carnivorous plants thrive in the boggy soil around its edge and in the park's acidic, mineral-poor soil.

Several coastal ecosystems are present in the park. Forests dominated by longleaf pine, turkey oak and live oak occupy the dry, coarse soil of a series of relict sand dunes. Between the dunes are dense shrub swamps, called pocosins, populated by pond pines, loblolly and sweet bay, yaupon and evergreen shrubs. Brackish marshes consisting primarily of cordgrasses and sedges can be found beyond the relict dunes adjacent to the river.

Carolina Beach State Park is a great place for bird-watching. Brown pelicans thrive in the coastal environment, and warblers, finches and woodpeckers fill the woods. In summer, painted buntings, yellowthroats and prairie warblers can be seen in the forest, while ospreys populate Snow's Cut. In addition to providing habitat for resident land birds during the winter and summer, Carolina Beach State Park is located along an important migration corridor and attracts many birds during their migrations.
History of the Area
The Cape Fear Indians lived in and around the area that is now Carolina Beach State Park, prior to European settlement. Mainly occupying the land along the Cape Fear River and its tributaries, the small tribe grew hostile to early settlers and, in 1715, participated in an uprising against Europeans in the area. The Cape Fear Indians were defeated and left the area by 1725. Artifacts of the native culture, including pottery fragments, arrowheads and mounds of oyster shells, have been found in the area.

Sugarloaf, a 50-foot sand dune near the bank of the Cape Fear River, has been an important navigational marker for river pilots since 1663. The dune was also of strategic significance during the Civil War when, as part of the Confederacy's defense of the Port of Wilmington, about 5,000 troops camped on or near Sugarloaf during the siege of Fort Fisher.

Carolina Beach State Park was established in 1969 to preserve the unique environment along the intracoastal waterway.

The 761-acre park is located on a triangle of land known as Pleasure Island, which lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. The land became an island when Snow's Cut was dredged in 1929 and 1930, connecting Masonboro Sound to the Cape Fear River. Snow's Cut, a part of the Intracoastal Waterway, provides inland passage for boat traffic along the Atlantic coast.

Carolina Beach State Park is located near Leland, Southport and Wilmington

Fitness Trail - This wheelchair-accessible loop has several exercise and activity stations set up along the way. This trail is located off of 7th Street, with parking at the Carolina Beach Recreation Center.

Carolina Beach TRACK Trail - This section of the Snow's Cut Trail is designated as a self-guided trail for kids. Activity brochures may be found at the picnic area trailhead and at the family campground trail access near campsite 20.

Campground Trail - This trail begins and ends at the visitor center and briefly joins the Sugarloaf Trail. Much of this trail winds through a coastal fringe sandhill forest, dominated by longleaf pines and live oaks.

Oak Toe Trail - This trail spurs off the Sugarloaf Trail and journeys to the Marsh Overlook. It offers views of the Cape Fear River and brackish marsh and sightings of fiddler crab, dwarf palmetto and oak toe lichen.

Flytrap Trail - This wheelchair-accessible trail loops through pocosin wetlands and longleaf pine and wiregrass savanna communities. Venus flytraps can be seen along the edges of the pocosins. Please stay on the trail to avoid damaging these small and fragile plants. Wildflowers bloom along the trail. Parts of the trail travel along wooden boardwalks.

Snow's Cut Trail - This trail begins at the picnic area and follows along Snow's Cute through a pine-hardwood forest. Towering trees and scenic views of the Intracoastal Waterway are seen along this trail.

Sand Live Oak Trail - This trail takes you along the river and through an ancient sand dune forest, looping around the southern end of the park before connecting back to Sugarloaf Trail. Part of this trail is on U.S. federal property. Stay on trail and follow the yellow-green diamond markers.

Swamp Trail - This trail begins and ends along Sugarloaf Trail. It provides access to the group camping area, as well as views of a tidal cypress-gum swamp and brackish marsh.

Sugarloaf Trail - This trail begins at the marina parking area and offers great birding opportunities. Journey through a coastal evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill forest, tidal cypress-gum swamp and longleaf pine savanna on your way to the Sugarloaf Dune, a prominent precolonial geological feature.

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Area Campgrounds
Winner's RV Park
601 North Lake Park Boulevard
Carolina Beach, NC
Carolina Beach Family Campground
9641 River Road
Wilmington, NC
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North Carolina

North Carolina State Parks