Free-spirited adventures and authentic experiences await in Carolina Beach. Traverse a scenic state park rich with indigenous wildlife and historical significance or embrace the natural charm of our laid-back beach town by exploring the different trails and pathways to adventure. 

Wilderness Walks

Wander through the natural wonders of Carolina Beach State Park, where you'll discover 761 acres of protected green space home to 13 different coastal habitats. The park features 8.5 miles of hiking across nine different trails, two of which are handicap accessible. The Flytrap Trail, a half-mile loop, winds through pocosin wetlands, longleaf pine forests and other coastal communities. Keep an eye out for the indigenous Venus flytraps that dot the trail. The trail begins and ends at the parking areas at the end of Nature Trail Lane and offers a natural surface and wooden boardwalk, making it an accessible pathway. Join a park ranger on a guided hike of the trail to learn about the different habitats and how they affect the surrounding plants and animals. Visit the park’s event page for more information on upcoming hikes.


Stretching 3 miles, the Sugarloaf Trail loops through coastal forests and tidal swamps, passing by the Sugarloaf Dune, a 50-foot precolonial geological feature where more than 5,000 troops camped during the Civil War. Veer off the Sugarloaf Trail and follow the Sand Live Oak Trail, which meanders along the Cape Fear River through an ancient sand dune forest. The Campground Trail briefly joins the Sugarloaf Trail and extends 1 mile each way.

Accessible from the Sugarloaf Trail or Flytrap Trail, the Swamp Trail offers glimpses of the tidal cypress-gum swamp and brackish marsh, spanning three-quarters of a mile one way. Journey to the marsh overlook along the Oak Toe Trail, where you'll spot signs of fiddler crabs, dwarf palmetto and oak tree lichens.

The Snow's Cut Trail follows along the body of water that connects the Intracoastal Waterway and the Cape Fear River, offering scenic views of the waterway. A section of the trail is designated as the Kids in Parks Track Trail, a quarter-mile one-way self-guided trail for kids, part of the nationwide network of Kids in Parks Track Trails.

As the park's only bike-friendly trail, the Fitness Trail is a mile long loop featuring several exercise stations and activity spots. The gravel trail is wheelchair accessible.

View a map of the park’s different trails and how they intersect here.

Scenic Strolls

Carolina Beach Lake Park is an 11-acre freshwater lake just two blocks from the ocean. Surrounding the lake is a paved walking loop, perfect for leisurely strolls and enjoying scenic views, where you can spot the ducks and geese that call the lake home. Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr. Park is a 12-acre park preserving Civil War earthworks that served as lines of communication and defense for the military operation leading to the end of the Civil War. The gravel walking trail features wayfinding signs and boardwalks over local marshes.


Stroll along the protected shoreline of Freeman Park Recreation Area. The secluded beach area stretches across 2 miles of Carolina Beach's northern end and is the perfect spot to enjoy a classic beach walk while searching for unique coastal treasures and shells.

Pathways for Pedaling

Along the west side of Carolina Beach, the Island Greenway is a multi-use paved pathway that begins at Mike Chappell Park. Rent some wheels through Pleasure Island Rentals, which offers bikes for the whole family, and pedal along the scenic pathway that connects to a network of off-street trails including the Fitness Trail at Carolina Beach State Park. View a map of the greenway here.


Carolina Beach's laid-back atmosphere welcomes curious adventurers to explore its diverse coastal habitats and rich historical significance along pathways and trails. From protected beaches and maritime forests to bike and walking paths, there are many ways to experience the town's natural side.