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Make your break for Carolina Beach State Park

By Johnny Molloy • Mar 25, 2018 at 12:00 AM

This coast of North Carolina certainly has some amazing natural attributes, but the most unusual of all may be the Venus flytrap. Perhaps you have heard of it. The modified leaves of this plant close rapidly when an insect touches tiny hairs on the leaves’ inside, trapping the insect, which then becomes dinner. The Venus flytrap grows only on land located within a 60-mile radius of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Carolina Beach State Park has a trail where you can see this unusual plant. The park also has a fine, lesser-used campground as well as many attractions within a 10-mile radius of the campground, such as beaches, historic sites, and even an aquarium.

With all there is to do here, you should find the campground very appealing as a base camp. It is located in piney woods near Snow’s Cut, a waterway connecting the wide Cape Fear River to the Intracoastal Waterway. Pine trees tower over the two campground loops. Live oaks, water oaks, and other hardwoods are mixed in with the pines. Clumpy brush grows here and there among the woods, adding privacy. A drive on the paved campground road through the first loop reveals large sites with sand-and-pine-needle floors.

Spring is a good time to visit Carolina Beach State Park, since it is rarely filled then. The campground fills most weekends from Memorial Day through Fourth of July weekend. After that, the heat keeps most campers away until fall, when cooler-weather weekends become busy. Reservations can be made for peace of mind.

Beach accesses are plentiful near Carolina Beach State Park on nearby Pleasure Island. I recommend driving 5 miles to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. It features 7 miles of state-owned beach with summer lifeguards in the designated ocean-swimming area. Four-wheel-drive vehicles can access other areas along the beach. The recreation area is popular with beachcombers.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a great place to check out marine life up close. At nearby Fort Fisher State Historic Site you can learn about the history of this Confederate Civil War bunker. Many folks like to tour the USS North Carolina battleship, conspicuously located in the Cape Fear River near Wilmington.

Don’t forget, though, about all the fun stuff to do at Carolina Beach State Park. The area is laced with hiking trails that crisscross numerous natural communities. The Flytrap Trail features the famous Venus flytrap. The Sugarloaf Trail passes through tidal flats and pinewoods. Snow’s Cut Trail leads to the Intracoastal Waterway. The 6-plus miles of trails are hiked mostly during cooler months.

For anglers, a fishing deck leading into the Cape Fear River is near the park marina. This location attracts fishermen going for croaker, flounder, and striped bass, in all types of weather. The marina sells plenty of bait and tackle, and campers with boats will enjoy the convenience of the boat launch.

With an abundance of recreational and sightseeing opportunities close by, camping at Carolina Beach is pleasurable as well as convenient. To get to Carolina Beach State Park from Wilmington, drive south on US 421 15 miles, crossing the Intracoastal Waterway. Turn right on Dow Road past the Intracoastal Waterway, shortly reaching the park, on your right. For more information, please visit www.ncparks.gov.

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