On Thursday, the National Park Service (NPS) opened South Beach Road and a new parking area for public use, with no ORV permit required to access. The project has been in the works since late 2017.
South Beach, or “The Hook,” is the shoreline that is situated just south of Cape Point, and which is solely open to pedestrians year round, barring any seasonal wildlife closures. Due to changes to the off road vehicle management plan that stemmed from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, the road that leads to this isolated beach was able to be improved, shortening the walk to the oceanfront.
The road is situated along the interdunal road close to ramp 44, and is currently accessed via the NPS managed Cape Point Campground. Locals and longtime visitors will remember this route as the original OVR ramp 45, although the former beach road had not been altered or improved in years, until the project began.
The road itself is approximately 6-12” higher due to the addition of clay and shell material, and an unpaved parking area that can accommodate 25-30 vehicles has be added to the end of the road, just behind the dune line.
The new road and parking area has also reduced the current walk to South Beach from the Cape Point Campground by roughly 1/3 mile.
There are currently some limitations to pedestrian access due to American oystercatcher nesting and nesting activity around the entire South Beach area. From the beachfront near the South Beach parking area, pedestrians can currently walk 0.2 miles to the west (towards ramp 48), and 0.4 miles to the east (towards Cape Point).
“[Once complete], anybody will have the ability to drive down this road and park at the end,” said Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent David Hallac in an earlier interview regarding the project. “We will recommend high clearance or 4WD vehicles – just because it is a park road – but anyone will be able to drive down, park at the designated area, and walk out and enjoy the beach.”