Sugarloaf Dune Trail

How much variety can you pack into a 3-mile training run? A lot, at Carolina Beach State Park.

The trailhead for the Sugarloaf Dune Trail is at the lot on your left after entering the park. Your first mile or so is a flat, fast warm-up that takes you along a particularly scenic, almost soundlike stretch of the Cape Fear River.

Muscles good and loose? Good, because now it’s time for hill work on the 50-foot-high Sugarloaf Dune. Laugh, but it’s a short, steep climb up this dune, which has served as a lookout and seafarer’s landmark since the early 1700s. Don’t cheat yourself of a great opportunity for hill repeats.

From the dune, the trail descends into a pine savannah carpeted with white sand, a surface that’s great for building leg strength. A half mile here will seem like 3 on a hard surface.

By the time you make it back to the trailhead, your legs will be telling you you’ve gone a lot farther than a 5K.

More info: Carolina Beach State Park

Maps: Downloadable here, also available at the park.

Getting there from downtown Wilmington

Difficulty: moderate
Distance: 20 minutes from downtown Wilmington
Length: 3 miles
Time to complete: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Address: 1010 State Park Road
City: Carolina Beach
State: N.C.
Zip: 28428
Latitude: 34.0471
Longitude: 77.9072