Boating: Carolina Beach State Park offers access to a variety of waters. The fresh waters of the Cape Fear River, the estuarine waters of Masonboro Sound and the salt waters of the Atlantic Ocean are all only moments away. A 54-slip marina with two public boat ramps is located at the junction of Snow's Cut and the Cape Fear River. Fuel, snacks and restrooms are available at the marina. Showers are provided for slip renters. Tidal waters may be rough at times; exercise cautious seamanship.
Paddle NC is a seasonal concessionaire at the park who offers kayak and stand-up paddle board tours and rentals. Please view their website at paddlenc.com or contact them by phone at 910-612-3277 for additional information.
Swimming is prohibited throughout the park due to dangerous currents and sharp drop-offs existing near the shores.
Family Camping: The park's family campground is located in a wooded area near Snow's Cut. Pine and oak provide shade for 83 campsites, including two wheelchair-accessible sites. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and grill. Drinking water and restrooms with hot showers are located nearby. Hookups are not provided for recreational vehicles, but a dump station is available.
Group Camping: Two camping areas for organized groups are located along Swamp Trail and are available by advance reservation only. One site accommodates up to 25 people; the other accommodates up to 35 people. These areas include picnic tables, fire circles and pit toilets. Water and shower facilities are not available. This area is accessible by foot only. The camping area is approximately 400 yards from the parking area.
Education and Events: Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Carolina Beach State Park. To search our database of park events, click the Events link on the Park Menu to the left. To arrange a special exploration of Carolina Beach State Park for your group or class, contact the park office.
Educational materials about Carolina Beach State Park have been developed for grades 5-8 and are correlated to North Carolina's competency-based curriculum in science, social studies, mathematics and English/language arts. The Carolina Beach program introduces students to basic plant biology, focusing on carnivorous plants. Accompanying the program is a teacher's booklet and workshop, free of charge to educators.
Click the Education tab above to learn more about environmental education at the parks and to search our database of upcoming workshops.
Fishing: Fish from the river bank, the wheelchair-accessible fishing deck or launch your boat at the marina. Spot, flounder, sheepshead and speckled trout are waiting at Carolina Beach State Park. A North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing License is required to fish in the park.
Hiking: Six miles of trails wind through a variety of distinct habitats at Carolina Beach State Park. Relatively flat and easy to walk, the trails offer an opportunity to observe the diversity of plant and animal life in the park. Insects may be annoying during the warmer months; repellent is recommended. To avoid becoming lost, stop by the visitor's center or marina for a trail map. Pay close attention to trail markers. Bikes and horses are not allowed on the park's trails.
Flytrap Trail is a pleasant half-mile loop through pocosin, longleaf pine and turkey oak, and savanna communities. Venus flytraps can be seen along the edges of the pocosins, and native orchids bloom along the trail. Parts of the trail travel along wooden boardwalks. Please stay on the trail, which is marked with orange diamonds, to avoid damaging small and fragile plants.
Sugarloaf Trail marked with orange circles, offers a three-mile journey beginning at the marina parking lot. An excellent place for watching water birds and exploring the tidal marsh, the trail passes through the marsh, enters a pine forest and follows the river's edge to Sugarloaf. A habitat for fiddler crab, the trail offers the opportunity to observe these crustaceans as they travel over the mudflats.
Campground Trail is one mile in length and is marked with blue circles. It begins and ends at the family campground and briefly joins Sugarloaf Trail. Much of the trail leads through a coastal fringe sandhill forest. This plant community, dominated by longleaf pines and live oaks, is threatened and becoming very rare.
Snow's Cut Trail, less than a half-mile long and marked with red diamonds, travels from the family campground to the picnic area. The largest pine and hardwood trees in the park may be seen along this trail.
Swamp Trail, a three-quarter-mile trail marked with red circles, begins and ends along Sugarloaf Trail. It provides access to the group camping areas as well as views of a tidal cypress-gum swamp and brackish marsh that run opposite one another along the trail.
Oak Toe Trail is a quarter mile in length and connects Swamp Trail and Sugarloaf Trail. Marked with blue diamonds, the trail traverses an area where a coastal fringe evergreen forest and a coastal fringe sandhill forest meet. Various pines, oaks and oak toe lichen dominate this area.
Picnicking: The Carolina Beach State Park picnic area is located near the bank of Snow's Cut, between the campground and marina. Under the shade of large oak trees, tables and grills supply all the necessities for dining. A wheelchair-accessible site is available. Water, restrooms and parking are conveniently located nearby.
Visitor Center: In addition to the multiple educational programs offered at Carolina Beach State Park, the park visitor's center features environmental education exhibits. Carnivorous plants dominate the exhibit hall at the Carolina Beach State Park visitor's center. The hall is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. Displays allow visitors to look deeper into the diversity of carnivorous plants in the park. From Venus flytraps to pitcher plants, from butterworts to bladderworts, the hands-on exhibits allow for interactive learning about these intriguing species. Exhibits include:
Biodiversity Theater: An interactive quiz game for teams or individuals. The game allows players to test their knowledge on the park's different plant communities.
A computer program about prescribed burning: Many of the park's plants and animals depend on fire for the health of their habitat. The computer program explains that relationship.
A carnivorous plant touch screen: Visitors learn about the park's five types of carnivorous plants.
Interactive Carnivorous Plants: Allows visitors to experience how these fascinating plants capture their prey.
A maze game from the perspective of an insect: Visitors attempt to navigate a ball, which represents an insect in the park, around a maze without taking a wrong turn and being eaten by a carnivorous plant.
Conveniently located near the park's entrance, the visitor's center and exhibit hall are wheelchair accessible. Call the park office for more details.