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Contact: B.G. Horvat, 252-728-2250, ext. 3014
HARKERS ISLAND, NC – A beach is a marvelous place to get away from it all and explore on those beautiful, crisp days during the winter. Dress for the weather and come out to see what you’ve been missing! All activities are free of charge unless noted otherwise below. For more information on these and other activities, call the National Park Service at 252-728-2250, extension 3001.
On the Barrier Islands
The winter beach is full of surprises! The stronger waves of winter bring in many sea treasures making beachcombing a winter delight. The clear blues of the winter sky and sea are picture perfect. You might even get to see a whale as it passes along the coast. Passenger ferry service to the islands is available daily (weather permitting) from the ferry gateway locations in Beaufort and Harkers Island. Call the ferry at 252-728-7433 or visit www.islandexpressferryservices.com for their scheduled times and fees.
The National Park Service’s Beaufort Visitor Information Center (BVIC), located at 701 Front Street in Beaufort, North Carolina, will be closed for the season (Sunday, December 11, 2016 – Sunday, March 19, 2017). Ferry service to the west-end of Shackleford Banks is still available, daily, located just across the street, at the Island Express Ferry Service vestibule.
Harkers Island, NC
The National Park Service’s Harkers Island Visitor Center (HIVC) and the Island Express Ferry Service gateway to Cape Lookout Lighthouse and the east-end of Shackleford Banks is located at 1800 Island Road, Harkers Island, North Carolina. Winter hours will run from Sunday, December 11, 2016 – Sunday, March 19, 2017. The HIVC is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day (in observance of the federal holidays, the HIVC will also be closed on Monday, December 26, 2016 and Monday, January 2, 2017). Ferry service, the Soundside Loop and Willow Pond Nature Trails are open 7 days a week, and holidays during daylight hours.
- Soundside Loop Trail – A 4/5 – mile, self-guided nature trail winds along the eastern shore of Harkers Island, through maritime forest and saltmarsh. The trail features a boardwalk and observation deck overlooking Core Sound. Stand on the edge of land and sea and think about the forces that shape Harkers Island – and her people.
- Willow Pond Nature Trail - This 1/3-mile trail winds around a restored freshwater pond with gorgeous views of wetland habitats and maritime woodlands. Watch for ducks and songbirds year-round from observation sites along the way.
- Ribbon of Sand (park film available at the HIVC Theater - 26 minutes)
- Cell phone tours – Learn more about the park before, during or after your visit with Ranger-narrated tours for your cell phone or smart phone. The tours are free; however, normal cell phone minutes and data rates will apply. Call (252) 838-7052 and select a stop number on a specific tour to hear a brief story. Available tours:
- Orientation to Cape Lookout National Seashore: stops 100 – 107
- Harkers Island Nature Trails: stops 201 - 210
- Cape Lookout Light Station: stops 501-511
- Portsmouth Village: stops 940-950
- Junior Rangers and Junior Ranger Adventures – A fun way to explore the park is to become a Junior Ranger. The Junior Ranger program is designed for ages 5 to 13 but everyone is welcome to participate. There are six different booklets and awards in the Junior Ranger and Junior Ranger Adventures programs. Booklets are available at the Harkers Island Visitor Center, and the Beaufort Visitor Information Center.