Hidden Sanctuaries & Gems
From a state park that is home to one of the world’s rarest carnivorous plants and a sand dune that was the campsite of thousands of troops during the Civil War to an oceanfront park perfect for four-wheeling, there are treasures to be discovered at Carolina Beach for first time and repeat visitors alike.
Carolina Beach State Park is home to 13 different habitats amongst its 761 acres. One of the natural wonders to be found there are carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps, which can be found growing natively only within a 60-mile radius of Carolina Beach. Hike the half-mile Flytrap Trail for a chance to catch a glimpse of the rare plants, which bloom each May. This wheelchair-accessible trail loops through pocosin wetlands and longleaf pine and wiregrass savanna communities. The park rangers at Carolina Beach State Park lead free guided carnivorous plant hikes on Saturdays, spring through fall. Click here for a schedule. The park also hosts special events throughout the year dedicated to the Venus flytrap like Flytrap Family Fun Day in March and Hike NC Earth Day Trail Hike in April.
Carolina Beach State Park is home to hiking trails, a marina, secluded camping areas and views of the Cape Fear River. One of the park’s unique features is Sugarloaf Dune, a 50-foot sand dune located near the bank of the Cape Fear River, where over 5,000 troops camped during the Civil War. Hikers can take Sugarloaf Trail, which journeys through a coastal evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill forest, tidal cypress-gum swamp and longleaf pine savanna, on their way to Sugarloaf Dune. The trail begins at the marina parking lot and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also welcome, provided they are kept on leash.
For a perfect spot for fishing, crabbing, swimming or boating, visit Freeman Park. Located at the north end of Carolina Beach, four-wheel-drive vehicles are permitted in the park with the purchase of a pass. Or, purchase a pass to access the secluded four-wheel-drive beach at the South End of Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in nearby Kure Beach. One of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of shoreline on the southern coast, the South End is home to six miles of beach, numerous threatened and endangered species like pelicans and Loggerhead sea turtles and the coquina rocks, a rare rock formation only visible at low tide.