Near our favorite Eastern North Carolina town of Beaufort, the Rachel Carson Reserve is a gorgeous group of barrier islands, the closest just a mere 5 min paddle from downtown. We explore Beaufort on the regular, mainly just to walk around the town pretending we could actually afford a house here! The seaside town is a booming with great local shops and restaurants, tons of sailing and paddling opportunities, beautiful historic houses, and some adventurous history (#pirates).
Town is quaint and amazing, and we'll definitely post more on Beaufort in the future (we have in the past), but the destination today is the reserve. Off we go. Paddle-paddle!
We set off from a little town boat launch in Grayden Paul Park, located along the downtown waterfront (map of park here). There is lots of parking nearby - paid close by and unpaid a few blocks off. There are even a few load/unload-only parking spots right next to the launch. It is a super quick paddle over to the trailhead on Town Marsh. We pulled our kayaks above the high tide line and hiked through the island, following the markers to the other side and on to Bird Shoal.
While we weren't planning on seeing any wild horses (we didn't want to get our hopes up), we stumbled upon a trail...of wild poop! As we rounded the island to return to our kayaks for lunch we lucked out and caught a glimpse of one of North Carolina's wild horses grazing near the shoreline.
After lunch we paddled back to the mainland and put the gear away. Since the park and boat launch is in downtown, you're just minutes away from refueling and grabbing a bite to eat if needed. Before heading home, we made a quick stop by the Old Burying Ground next to the Ann Street United Methodist Church. Historic cemeteries in the South like this one are always amazing to visit. Underneath the arms of these century old oak trees are the graves of Beaufort locals from long ago - including Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers.
We love the town of Beaufort. The Rachel Carson Reserve is a great paddle with lots of shoreline, trails, wildlife, and beach to explore. Its closeness to a great seaside town make the adventure even better. We highly recommend this trip! Questions about the paddle? Need help deciding on a restaurant for some post-paddle grub? Leave them in the comment section and we'll answer quick!
~Paul, Amber, Ann, & Eleanor ETC
Link to NC Division of Coastal Management info on the Rachel Carson Reserve
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