Last week, I took the girls and Axl to Carolina Beach State Park for our first hiking trip of the year. With six miles of hiking trails, it is the perfect place to explore a pocosin ecosystem and see rare carnivorous plants.
The History of Carolina Beach State Park
Before European settlement, Pleasure Island was inhabited by the Cape Fear Indians, who had a village within the present-day park. During the Yamassee War in 1715, many of these natives were forced out of the region by Colonel Maurice Moore and a band of Tuscarora warriors.
The last Cape Fear Indians fled the area when Roger Moore demolished their settlement at Big Sugar Loaf in 1725 following a raid on his Orton Plantation. Artifacts of the native culture, including pottery fragments, arrowheads, and shell middens, have been found in Carolina Beach State Park.
Early attempts at colonization were unsuccessful due to conflicts with the Cape Fear Indians and pirating. In 1726, Brunswick Town was established across the river. The new settlement became important for commerce after the Cape Fear River was designated an official port of entry for the colony.
River pilots traveling the Cape Fear to Brunswick Town used Sugarloaf, a 50-foot sand dune near the river bank, as a navigational marker. More than a century later, the dune served as the site of a Civil War battle during the siege of Fort Fisher.
In 1969, Masonboro State Park was established to preserve the unique environment along the Intracoastal Waterway. The name was changed in 1974.
The Park Today
Carolina Beach State Park encompasses 761 acres on the triangle of land situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River, known as Pleasure Island. The area is a pocosin wetland, a rare ecosystem that supports carnivorous plant species, including the Venus flytrap.
Visiting the Park
The park features hiking trails, a marina, campsites, a picnic area, and a visitor’s center. Activities include hiking, birding, biking, boating, and fishing. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.
Located at 1010 State Park Road in Carolina Beach, the park is open daily, with varying hours depending on the season. Admission is free.