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Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Sandpipers on the Beach
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is located in New Hanover County at the southern end of Pleasure Island, 20 miles south of Wilmington, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River.  It is located just south of the town of Kure Beach.  The recreation area and beaches can also be reached by ferry from Southport on the other side of the Cape Fear River.

Prior to European settlement, Cape Fear Native Americans lived in and around the lower Cape Fear peninsula.  Initial attempts at settlement were unsuccessful due to conflict with the Native Americans and piracy.  In 1730, the Port of Wilmington was settled and became a bustling port, exporting naval stores, such as tar, pitch, and turpentine derived from the longleaf pine.  Fort Fisher was built in 1862 to protect to the Port of Wilmington from Union forces.

There are several miles of beach at the park, a short hiking trail, and the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.  With free public parking and amenities, such as restrooms, shower rinse stations, grills for cooking, and concession stands, the park is very popular with beach-goers.  It's a good idea to arrive early to get a parking space, because the parking lot fills up quickly on nice beach days.

Contact Information:
1000 Loggerhead Road
Kure Beach, NC 28449

Phone: (910) 458-5798

Email: fort.fisher@ncdenr.gov

GPS Coordinates:
33.9534, -77.929


From points north, take I-40 east until it ends in Wilmington, becoming NC-132.  Continue south on NC-132 through Wilmington to where it merges with US-421 and follow US-421 south through Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.  After Kure Beach, turn left onto Loggerhead Road at the sign to enter the recreation area.  From points south, take the ferry from Southport-Fort Fisher ferry across the Cape Fear River.  From the ferry port, turn left on US-421 and then right on Loggerhead Road to enter the recreation area.  Use the map below to generate customized directions.



The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is one of three North Carolina Aquariums and is just a short distance from the beach, within easy walking distance.  This makes it a great opportunity to get a break from the sun and heat and enjoy the shade and air conditioning of the aquarium.  And if rainy weather threatens to spoil a day at the beach, the aquarium provides an opportunity to escape the storm and still enjoy sights and sounds of the sea.  The theme of the aquarium is from the Cape Fear River to the Sea, and features exhibits of freshwater and sea life.  See my website for the aquarium for more details.


With about six miles of pristine, undeveloped beach, Fort Fisher is a great place to enjoy a day at the beach.  A boardwalk from the parking area over the dunes provides access to miles of sandy beach to enjoy.  Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day to provide a safe beach experience.  Rip currents are always a possibility, so swim with caution and pay attention to the warnings and flags.  No swimming is permitted under red flag conditions.

Waves Crashing on the Shore


Besides miles of beaches to walk, there is a 1.1-mile trail that runs through area that provides a glimpse into the diverse ecosystems in the recreation area.

Basin Trail:

Length: 1.1 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Easy

The Basin Trail, also sometimes called the Hermit Trail, leads from the parking area to the southernmost part of the recreation area.  The trail traverses sand dunes and leads through salt marshes before ending at an observation deck on the southern end of the beach.  From here, there are great views of The Basin and Zeke's Island Coastal Reserve.  About two-thirds of the way down the trail is an old WWII bunker with an interesting story.  From 1955 to 1972, the bunker was home to Robert E. Harrill, known as the Fort Fisher Hermit.

Salt Marsh along Basin Trail

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External Links:

NC State Parks website: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/fofi/main.php


Fort Fisher State Recreation Area


Fort Fisher Photos:

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area