Sounds like a strange question. Walk to an island? Only if there’s a bridge. But there’s not. At least not a man-made one.
The truth is, Bald Head Island hasn’t officially been an island since 1999, when Corncake Inlet, which separated Bald Head Island from the end of the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, closed due to shoaling from Hurricane Floyd. Because that inlet is now filled in with sand, it joins the two areas with a continuous beach from Pleasure Island all the way down to Cape Fear at the southern tip of Bald Head Island and back around to the northwest. So yes, you can walk there. The question is: How much do you like walking?
If you start at the office of the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area it’s close to 10 miles down to Cape Fear, said Katharine Womble, a park ranger at Fort Fisher. You can shave about 4.5 miles off that trip if you have access to a four-wheel-drive vehicle and ride to the southern end of Fort Fisher. From there you’ll see a natural area with no development for the first 3 miles before you reach the Bald Head village. The first part is the former inlet, which you’ll recognize because it lacks the tall dunes along the rest of the beach as they are just beginning to form.
If you go at high tide, you may find yourself walking along a very narrow beach close to the dunes, which is much more strenuous than trekking over the water-packed sand below the high tide line. At extreme low tide, the sand is hard enough to ride a bike over, Womble said. Check a tide chart before you embark on your journey to know what you’re up against.
No matter when you go, take along lots of water and sunscreen because there’s nowhere along the way to get these things. There’s also no shade or shelter at all. And if you use the four-wheel-drive area and leave your vehicle behind, be sure to park close to the dunes away from the water and remove your vehicle during park hours. It’s also wise to let someone in the park office know what you’re doing so they can look for you if you don’t return to your vehicle.
Date posted: June 30, 2009
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