Hammocks Beach State Park - Bear Island, North Carolina
Nessie ready to launch at Hammocks Beach State Park
Hammocks Beach State Park consists of the mainland, Bear Island, Huggins Island, and the recently added Jones Island. The entire park encompasses nearly 1,145 acres. More information is available at Hammocks Beach
There is a NC Parks ferry from the victor center on the mainland to Bear Island. Access to the other islands is by private boat. A kayak is a great way to get to all three islands. A kayak is especially useful because the water levels can be low--especially at low tide.
Paddle Trail to Bear Island
Bear Island Paddle Trail
You have to carry your boat from the parking lot to the launch site. The NC park service does provide wheels if you need them. The carry down to the launch site isn't too bad, put it is uphill coming back to the parking lot. Most of the time the parking places near the launch site are full, so you can count on having to carry or pull your kayak quite a ways. We have wheels for Nessie and we're glad we do.
The paddle to Bear Island is about 3 miles and follows a well marked paddle trail. It is important to follow the marked trail because you can run into low water. You can find yourself suddenly aground. Even if you follow the markers, you can end up with very little water under your kayak.
On some of out previous trips to Bear Island, we've had to get out and pull Nessie to get back to where there was sufficient water to start paddling again.
There is a second well marked paddle trail that takes you from the launch site around Huggins Island, This is a 6 mile round trip.
Visit NC State Parks Map for a map of the paddle trail.
Les and Nessie at Bear Island
The attraction of Bear Island is an unspoiled beach. There were a couple of people launching kayaks at the same time we were, but they were headed to Huggins Island. There were also a few people getting on the Park Service Ferry, but they were in a different part of the island from us. One of these days we'll camp on the island.
The paddle around Huggins via the paddle trail is about 6 miles. You are likely to see a few birds on your paddle. Nothing in large numbers, just a few birds looking for a fish to two. At least that has always been our experience here.