Easier access to South Beach is on the way, thanks to a wintertime project by the National Park Service (NPS) that focuses on the former ORV ramp 45 just south of the Point.
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. 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 will be improved, shortening the walk to the oceanfront.
The road that is being addressed 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 ramp 45, although the former beach road has not been altered or improved in years.
“This will be a rehabilitation of that road,” says Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent David Hallac. “We’ll be bringing the [condition of the road] back to how it used to be. It won’t be a paved road, just an improved dirt road with clay and shell on it – similar to ramp 44.”
“We’re not changing the road in any way, just bringing it back to the way it was many, many years ago,” he adds.
Shells and hard sediment has already been added to portions the road to increase its elevation and accessibility. When the project is completed, the road itself will be 6-12” higher due to the addition of clay and shell material, and an unpaved parking area that will accommodate 25-30 vehicles will be added to the end of the road, just behind the dune line.
The footprint of the road will remain the same, but the higher elevation will make it less prone to flooding, and easier to access for all varieties of vehicles.
The end result will also reduce the current walk to South Beach from the Cape Point Campground by 1/3 mile.
“Once this road is completed, anybody will have the ability to drive down this road and park at the end,” says Hallac. “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.”
The definitive completion date is not set in stone, but the NPS plans to have the improved road finished by the spring of 2018.
South Beach has always been a quietly popular spot, simply because of its isolated location. “…It’s one of the most remote beaches [in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore],” says Hallac. “And the purpose of this project is to get people that much closer to South Beach.”