GO! Get Off the Beach

BY Cole Dittmer

GO! Get off the beach

Before the coming summer months when the beach takes center stage there is no better time to explore our own backyard. The Cape Fear region hosts an open range of outdoor activities and venues for expending restless energy accumulated during the long winter months. From relaxing trail walks offering panoramas of the emerging flora to heart-racing flights over the emerald and deep blue-green coastline go now get off the beach.

By Land

Hanover Stables
With 46 experienced and trusty steeds waiting to bear riders through the pines and down to Topsail Island Hanover Stables provides trail and beach rides for riders of all skill levels. Trial rides wind through the woods and around the stables then turn to the east to journey to the oceans edge. In season vibrantly blooming yellow jessamine low-hanging dogwood flowers and sky blue lupines cover the underbrush. At Topsail Island sea oats yucca plants and fiery gaillardia prevail. Once on the beach trot along the waters edge and breathe in the sweet salt air of springtime. This month is the last chance to take advantage of beach rides until October. To schedule a trail ride phone 910-675-8923.

Abbey Nature Preserve at Poplar Grove
Nature lovers can spend a warm spring day wandering among the ecosystems that comprise Poplar Grove Plantations Abbey Nature Preserve. The wispy boughs of longleaf pines offer ample shade along the forested paths. Regal oaks dogwoods cedars magnolias and red maples dot the forest adding diversity and distinction to the piney landscape. Whitetail deer cottontail rabbits and Bobwhite quails bound along the forest floor while just overhead the “teakettle-teakettle-teakettle” of the Carolina wren breaks the silence. Weaving around the old millponds trails are furnished with trash receptacles benches and maps. The Abbey Nature Preserve is also pet friendly and parking is free.

Brunswick Nature Park
Located on the banks of the Cape Fear River Brunswick Nature Park is a sprawling 900-acre park with a combination of biking and hiking trails that wind through open meadows pine and hardwood forests and over the meandering creeks and intertidal marshlands. Those wishing to paddle down the quietly flowing creeks can set off from the kayak and canoe launch located directly on Town Creek. While exploring this vast parkland visitors can expect to encounter whitetail deer box turtles and blue herons. Although the hiking and biking trails are well established there is no signage to mark their boundaries. The park is open year-round from dawn till dusk with free parking at the entrance. Directions and further information can be found at www.ncbrunswick.com.

By Air

Wilmington Air
Up for new adventure? Conveniently located directly beside the Wilmington International Airport one of Wilmington Airs Cessna 172s will carry passengers above Wilmington and the surrounding beaches. From the airport to Wrightsville Beach the suns glimmer off of the Atlantic glows steadily brighter. The land drops off into the blue-green of the Intracoastal Waterway; the meandering creeks in the intertidal marshes twist and bend; a solitary sailboat comes into view parked in Banks Channel; finally the deep blue vastness of the Atlantic Ocean unfurls toward the horizon. Gliding above the shoreline its possible to observe schools of red drum that pepper the surf line and low bands of swell that crest and roll over sandbars and channels. To schedule a chance to experience these dynamic features of the lower Cape Fear that can only be fully appreciated from the air phone 910-763-0146 or visit www.airilm.com.

By Sea

Cape Fear Riverboats
The scenic beauty of the Cape Fear and Black rivers is only a phone call away. The Black River Nature Cruise follows the deep waters of the Cape Fear River upstream to the Black River. Its banks lined with bald cypress this stretch of undeveloped river is home to river otters alligators black bears and various indigenous songbirds.

A tranquil sunset cruise around the downtown Wilmington harbor offers a perfect vantage point to take in the fiery red-orange skyline as the sun sinks below the line of cypresses and pines on the western edge of the river. For more information about the other cruises offered and for ticket information visit www.cfrboats.com or phone 910-343-1611.

Wilmington Water Tours
Book passage aboard The Wilmingtonian and explore the Cape Fear River on Captain Doug Springers 46-foot custom catamaran. The Eagles Island cruise skirts the historic downtown area before exploring the undeveloped shores of Eagle Island. The ambling Captains Lazy Day Cruise on Sunday afternoons meanders through the Cape Fear Rivers by-waters with no specific destination in mind. The ship can be fully enclosed on lingering winter days. For a list of other cruises scheduling and ticket information visit www.wilmingtonwatertours.com or call 910-338-3134.