Hermit Trail

This 2.2-mile out-and-back features stark beauty and a visit to one of the more romantic homesteads in North Carolina.

Stark beauty: There are few spots in densely forested North Carolina where you experience the enormity of the great outdoors on a wide-open, as-far-as-the-eye-can-see western scale. This is one of those rare occasions: the Cape Fear peninsula is a vast swath of sand, sea oats and cordgrass where it is possible to look for miles in any one direction. That alone would recommend this hike.

Romantic homestead: It’s a concrete bunker, a dank, dark leftover from World War II. Peering inside, “romance” might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Serial killer storage facility, more likely. The romance comes from Robert E. Harrill, who called this bunker home from the time he parted ways with society in 1956 at the age of 62, until his mysterious death in the summer of 1972.

Here, Harrill had time to think and philosophize. Over the years an increasingly number of people became interested in Harrill’s bunker-inspired view of the world. His life gradually led people to refer to him not by his given name but as the Fort Fisher Hermit. Spend a few minutes at Harrill’s peaceful outpost and you’ll likely do some philosophizing of your own.

Complete the trail by walking to the tip of the peninsula, where you’ll find more stark beauty, more inspiration to philosophize.

More info: Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Maps: Downloadable here, also available at the recreation area.

Getting there from downtown Wilmington
Difficulty: easy
Distance: 30 minutes from downtown
Time to complete: 2 hours
Address: 1000 Loggerhead Road,, NC
City: Kure Beach
State: N.C.
Zip: 28449
Latitude: 33.953
Longitude: 77.929