Click the links below to view information about activities for this park.Education and Events
Education and Events:Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Program titles include Shell Stroll, Turtle Talk, Salt Marsh Exploration, Bird Hike and Surf Fishing Basics.
To arrange a special exploration of Fort Fisher State Recreation Area for your group or class, contact the park office.
Educational materials about Fort Fisher State Recreation Area have been developed for grades 4-6 and are correlated to North Carolina's competency-based curriculum in science, social studies, mathematics and English/language arts. The Fort Fisher program introduces students to the habitat and life history of colonial-nesting coastal birds. The program also focuses on endangered, threatened and special-concern bird species. Accompanying the program is a teacher's booklet and workshop, free of charge to educators. To learn more about environmental education or to search our database of upcoming workshops, please click the Education tab above.
Fishing: Fishing is allowed on the pedestrian beach and the four-wheel drive beach. Common ocean catches include bluefish, red drum, black drum, pompano, speckled trout, and Virginia mullet. Spot and flounder share the estuary with numerous shellfish. Fishing is best in the spring and fall seasons. All coastal recreational regulations and licenses apply.
Hiking: Explore Fort Fisher State Recreation Area by foot. Enjoy a walk on our five miles of beach, or take a stroll down the Basin Trail. This 1.1 mile, out-and-back trail meanders through the marsh allowing hikers a chance to view sound-side flora and fauna and the Maritime Forest. The trail ends at an observation deck, which is a great location for bird watching.
Off-Road Vehicles: For visitors wishing to fish, sunbathe or view nature in the southern portions of the park, four-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed to operate within a limited corridor along the beach, at certain times of the day and with a valid permit. Drivers must follow designated routes, avoiding dunes, vegetation and marked nesting areas. Only registered motor vehicles are allowed in the four-wheel-drive access area (no ATVs). Exercise caution, portions of the access may flood at high tides. Soft sand and sharp drop-offs are common.
Four miles of beachfront at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is open to visitors in four-wheel-drive vehicles, though restrictions apply regarding times of use and areas open to traffic. There are two principal reasons for the restrictions. The park is somewhat remote and emergency services can be limited during hours when rangers are not on duty. Also, Fort Fisher is home to 16 rare species including the loggerhead sea turtles. In late summer and early fall, the turtles often use areas near the dune line for nesting. Colonial shore birds favor the sparsely vegetated flats between the dune line and marshes for nesting sites in summer months. Restricted areas are clearly marked by rope fences and signs.
*return unwanted fish unharmed to the water and do not leave fish scraps on the beach. Fort Fisher SRA is experiencing problems with nest predators such as red fox feeding on turtle and shorebird nests. Leaving food and scraps on the beach attracts predators to areas where they may come into contact with people or feed on endangered and threatended species.
A word of extreme caution: Steep drop-offs and soft sand can cause drivers and their vehicles to become stranded, and vehicles can be further threatened by incoming tides or engine overheating. Park staff is not equipped to recover stranded vehicles.
Only registered vehicles with valid park-issued permits are allowed in the four-wheel-drive access area. Beach vehicle access permits are available for sale at the park's visitor center daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with cash, money orders or personal checks accepted with proper identification.
A beach vehicle access permit application is available from the Forms & Permits link on the Park Menu to the left.
Picnicking: Whether for a group gathering or a relaxing lunch getaway from work, 23 picnic tables with grills are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no fee for their use. Some tables are ADA accessible.
Swimming: Approximately five miles of beach provide all the sun, sand, sea and sky you can soak up in a day. Experience the ocean away from all the crowds. From the recreation area parking lot, an elevated boardwalk leads over the sand dunes to the beach, from where visitors can walk along one of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of shoreline on our southern coast.
Lifeguard service is provided in a designated swim area from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Please obey the warning signs and flags. A green flag indicates relatively calm conditions. A yellow flag indicates rougher conditions and to swim with caution. A red flag indicates severe conditions. Swimming is not permitted under red flag conditions.