Basin Trail - Fort Fisher Recreation Area
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Basin Trail - Fort Fisher Recreation Area Kure Beach Reviews
Basin Trail at Fort Fisher Oct 09, 2009
Although very short and very flat (my trail guide indicated an elevation gain of seven feet, lol), the Basin Trail makes far a pleasant diversion from the crowds if you are visiting Carolina Beach or Kure Beach, both located just south of Wilmington, NC. The only hard part seemed to be pinning down the trailhead --- a few weeks back the family visited nearby Fort Fisher and I suggested checking the trail out. Our friendly attendants at Fort Fisher instructed us to park at the North Carolina Aquarium and provided a pamphlet which had a sketchy trail map.
After plodding around the bushes in this swampy area for a half hour we gave up, although an Aquarium attendant suggested it would be better to start from the beach. Prepared to scout around until I was successful this afternoon, I parked at the last public parking lot before Loggerhead Road (which leads to the Aquarium) and headed south along the beach. Roughly a half mile later, there it was, clearly marked! I had skirted behind the Aquarium and realized an inlet prevents you from reaching the trailhead if you start there.
The marker at the trailhead claimed it was 0.7 miles to the observation deck at the end, and that estimate struck me as overstated (half mile at the most, I’d venture). It is beautiful. You stroll through a tidal marsh, the landscape dominated by cordgrass and sea oats, with views out to seas studded by sand dunes. Herons and egrets abound, and between bird chatter and gently crashing waves you have natural surround-sound of the most soothing kind. In several locations there are boardwalks skirting low areas, and I was fascinated by spooking hundreds of fiddler crabs (these are tiny crabs where the males have one large claw to impress the ladies).
There is one attraction of the trail which is not natural. The pathway is also known as the Hermit Trail because Robert Harrill moved into a deserted WWII bunker located on the trail in 1955 at the age of 62. He couldn’t technically have been a hermit (they are supposed to live in seclusion), because by 1968 he was the second most popular tourist attraction in North Carolina! Robert lived in the bunker for seventeen years before a somewhat mysterious death in 1972. The bunker remains and actually has several informative plaques regarding the hermit.
Once past the bunker, the trail continues back to the water and an observation deck. The wooden deck is quite pleasant and affords exceptional views of the water – I found it a great spot to sit and watch the birds for a bit. Despite this being the peak of tourist season I did not encounter another human being the entire time. The Basin Trail is the perfect prescription for relaxation…
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