Days
<1
Motors Allowed?
Yes
Difficulty
Easy / Class A
Distance
5.20 mi (8.37 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Hammocks Beach State Park is unique among state parks in that most of its activities are on the water. It is comprised of two islands and the waterways in between. The most popular destination is Bear Island, which has a beautiful beach, swimming area, campsites, and some amenties. Most people reach Bear Island by ferry, but paddling there is another great option. A marked water trail leads through tidal creeks to a calm cove on the island. You can bring your own boat or rent one near the park visitor center. No permit is needed unless you'll be camping overnight, but it is recommended that you check in with park staff to get recommendations on tides and other daily conditions.

The water trail follows a maze of marsh lining the Intracoastal Waterway, but it is marked by white and orange bicolored posts. Small hammocks and barrier islands shelter these creeks from most waves, so the water is generally calm. Windy days can whip up waves, however, and there is no shelter from the elements out here, so watch the weather carefully. For the easiest journey, time it with the tides so that you paddle to Bear Island with the falling tide and back to the mainland with the rising tide. Along the way you can enjoy birding, fishing, looking for dolphins, and simply enjoying the scenery. The water trail ends in a calm cove near the island's northeast end. A short walk across the dunes leads to the beach and the walk-in campsites. The boat-in sites are closer to the mouth of the cove.

Ferry passengers walk to the beach via a boardwalk about a half mile down the beach from where paddlers walk. There are restrooms, outdoor showers, and drinking water at the boardwalk access that paddlers are welcome to use (all are shut off for the winter mid-November to mid-March). During the summer season there is also a concession stand and a designated swimming area with lifeguards on duty. There is no trash service, so be sure to pack out what you pack in.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Marked paddle trail. Calm water. Overnight options.

Cons

Motorboat traffic.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Put-in location (lat, long coordinates)

34.669638, -77.142877

Take-out location (lat, long coordinates)

34.637350, -77.128713

Water Temperature

140.00 °F (60.00 °C)

Features

Backcountry camping
Fishing
Picnic tables
Whale watching
Wildlife
Bird watching
Family friendly

Trail type

There-and-back

Access

Vehicle

Typically multi-day

No

Shuttle required

No

Site characteristics: Water

Sound/Strait

Portage required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Tidewater + Outer Banks, North Carolina
Tidewater + Outer Banks, North Carolina

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