Carolina Beach State Parks+ Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Having realized that Sarah and I hadn’t been to a North Carolina beach since before we were married, we decided that we had to fix that. Carolina Beach was the obvious choice, as it is host to it’s own State Park, as well as Fort Fisher State Recreation Area down the road.

Simple put, we had a fantastic time as a family.

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It was perfect fall weather for outdoor time at the beach. Carolina Beach State Park exceed our exceptions, with beautiful sandy white trails and towering pines. Fort Fisher State Recreation though, was one of our favorite hikes we’ve ever done in the state. The Basin Trail was a one mile out a back through the coastal marsh area between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. The trail was largely comprised of boardwalks and the views and were stunning.

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The highlight of the trip, though, was watching the sunris over the Atlantic Ocean. There was serenity, gratitude and humility in that moment, I often struggle to find in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of what our everyday lives have become. In the days since we have returned from the trip, I keep coming back to that moment and spot and thumbing through the photos. Memories like those are why we love to explore new things and in particular the great state of North Carolina in which we live.

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We will no doubt be back very soon!

Hike Info – Carolina Beach State Park – Flytrap Trail + Sugarloaf Trail

  • Strava Link
  • Starting Point: B Road, Carolina Beach State Park
  • End Point: Same
  • Length: 4 Miles
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Hike Info – Fort Fisher State Recreation Area – Basin Trail

  • Strava Link
  • Starting Point: 1000 Loggerhead Rd, Kure Beach, NC 28449
  • End Point: Same
  • Length: 2.5 Miles
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 1 hour

Other Activities:

  • North Carolina Aquarium
  • Southport Ferry
  • Good Hops Brewery
  • Carolina Smokehouse

Laurel Bluffs + Eno Quarry + Cabe Lands Loop – Eno River State Park

There’s a moment every year when it hits you that Spring is just around the corner. You know Winter isn’t quite over, but you feel a warmth and a smell in the air, that let’s you know Spring is near. It always feels wonderful. This year, it hit me while on a hike at the Eno River. Yes, I know I’ve written about this place before, and I can assure you I will write about it again. After this, I will have only written about 13 of the 28 miles of trails that make up the park.

For this loop, you could start at one of two parking areas – either the Pleasant Green Access or Cabe Lands Access. Full disclosure – we broke the hike up over two different trips, (with Sarah in her third trimester, 3 miles is about the limit) so we actually started at both locations. See picture below.

This is a hike I’d recommend doing anytime except on a Summer weekend. The reason being, both access points are popular parking spots for trips to the Eno River Quarry. The quarry is a popular swimming hole for high schoolers, but also families alike and can get quite crowded during summer days. Parking can be quite difficult on those days, and I’ve even paid local residents to park on their property in the past.

The hike itself has three distinct parts. The first is the western most portion of the Laurel Bluffs Trail. This is my favorite part of the hike, as it follows along a ridge a couple hundred feet from the river, providing wonderful views. The rhododendron and steep drop offs give the allusion of mountain hiking.

The next part is a loop around the Eno Quarry Trail. The Quarry was initially dug up in the 1940s to provide rock that would become interstate 85. Once the quarrying was done, it slowly filled with water over the years. As I mentioned before, it is a popular swimming destination in the summer months, but also a very nice view and unique part of the park.

 

The last part is known as the Cabe Lands Trail. It’s a steep trail, going down to the river, following the river a bit, and back up to connect to the Quary Trail.

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We loved the chance to do some Eno hiking as Spring is beginning. With this Spring in particular we are so excited as it is a reminder at how close we are to the arrival at our first child, which increasingly can’t come soon enough. The hike also gave me a chance to play with a new camera I recently got so I can capture some quality photos and videos of our little gal or guy when they arrive!

Full map of the hike is here:

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Hike Info:

  • MapMyHike LinkMapMyHike Link #2
  • Starting Point: Eno River Pleasant Green Access Point (4702 Pleasant Green Rd, Durham, NC 27705)
  • End Point: Same (Note: You could also do same hike and start at Cabe Lands Access parking lot)
  • Length: 5.25 Miles
  • Approximate Hiking Time: 1 Hour, 45 minutes