A highly popular paddle trip, for several reasons. One, it’s well marked. White posts lead the way across marshy Bogue Sound. Now, you might not think trail markers are a big deal: Mainland here, Bear Island there: paddle. But sitting low in a kayak and paddling through swarms of cordgrass make it easy to lose sight of the island and get disoriented, especially in this maze of a marsh.

Paddling over also takes you to the more remote — and interesting — east end of 3-mile-long Bear Island. During the summer, a frequent ferry shuttles visitors from the mainland to the middle of the island. Those folks could walk to the east end, but few do, preferring to stay within close proximity to the bathhouse and concession area. Rather, you’ll have this part of the island, with its bluff cloaked in maritime forest, to yourself and other hardy paddlers. This end of the island is also where you’ll find the designated camp sites. Paddle over in the offseason and there’s a good chance you’ll have the entire island to yourself.

More info and maps: Website here, map here.

Getting there: From NC 24 in Swansboro go south on Hammocks Beach Road for just over 2 miles, to the park. Map here.

Access and shuttle: No shuttle. See above for access.

bear island
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.6 miles
Time to complete: 2 hours
Location: Hammocks Beach State Park
City: Swansboro
State: N.C.
Zip: 28584
Put-in latitude: 34.6710
Put-in longitude: -77.1429