A few weeks ago, I posted about a couple of lovely little parks on Holden Beach. This week, I’ll talk about the “marsh loops” that are near these parks. These loops have been created by filling in a small portion of the marsh to create a wide trail. I loved biking on it, but you could also walk it (with due care…the one near Sanddollar Park has more ant hills that I would have wanted to walk past). The loops offer bikers/walkers and introduction to the marsh ecosystem on Holden Beach, as well as offer nice marsh views and views of the Intercoastal Waterway. If you’re on Holden Beach and looking for an alternative to ocean views and sand, either of the loops near Sanddollar Park or Sailfish Street Park are great places to go!
The trails are fairly similar, so I’ll talk about them together. The biggest difference between the loops is that the one near Sanddollar Park is longer than the one near Sailfish Street Park. Neither of them are terribly long, however – less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) around.
Scramble up the steep embankment (follow the trail) and then turn right or left on the loop. Going right, the trail fairly quickly turns left to parallel the Intercoastal Waterway. From time to time you will get glimpses of the Waterway; sometimes you can see quite a ways (the views are always nice). You are walking through bushes and tall grass; at times the grass is so tall it was about twice the height of the tallest member of my group who’s over 6’ tall! In this section, you can occasionally see water below you on the left side of the trail. (The trail is raised quite a ways above the surrounding marsh).
After a short while of turning and twisting slightly, the trail will take a dramatic turn inland, then another turn will take you back toward where you came in. Now you will have occasional marsh views on your right. This is a great place to see wildlife, especially birds. I saw an egret out in the middle of the marsh, but it was too far away to get a good picture. If you’re looking for wildlife watching on Holden Beach, this is the place to go – it’s short enough that you could probably take a lawn chair and set it up to watch the birds and other animals in the marsh.
Continue walking or biking as the trail continues to twist and turn, and then eventually come back to where you entered the trail. Scramble back down the steep hill to the road and then return to your vehicle.
These loops are lovely on a sunny day – quieter than the street and much more natural. I can’t wait to try them again next time I visit!
Key GPS Coordinates for Sanddollar Park and Sailfish Street Park and the Marsh Loops
Sanddollar Park: 33.914794N / -78.307296W (33N 54’ 53.2584”/-78 W 18’ 26.265”)
Sanddollar Park “Marsh Loop” entrance: 33.914301N / -78.308685W (33N 54’ 51.4836”/-78 W 18’ 31.2654”)
Sanddollar “Marsh Loop” turns inland 33.914414N / -78.316564W (33N 54’ 51.8904”/-78 W 18’ 59.6298”)
Sailfish Street Park: 33.912592N / -78.335405W (33N 54’ 45.3306”/-78 W 20’ 7.4574”)
Sailfish Street Park “Marsh Loop” entrance: 33.911941N / -78.337990W (33N 54’ 42.987”/-78 W 20’ 16.764”)
Sailfish “Marsh Loop” turns inland 33.912078N / -78.341406W (33N 54’ 43.4808”/-78 W 20’ 29.0616”)
Getting to Sanddollar Park “Marsh Loop”
From the Holden Beach Causeway, turn right. Drive 2.2 miles (3.5 km), then turn right on Sanddollar Street. Follow this road to its end at the canal, about 0.5 miles later (0.8 km). (Note: the road will turn sharply to the right before meeting the canal; the park is after this turn). Park in the parking area; then walk back up the road to the sharp turn. Just after this turn will be a sandy opening on the right that goes steeply uphill. Follow this trail.
Getting to Sailfish Street Park “Marsh Loop”
From the Holden Beach Causeway, turn right. Drive 3.9 miles (6.2 km), then turn right on Sailfish Drive. Follow this road to its end at the canal, about 0.4 miles later (0.6 km). (Note: the road will turn sharply to the right before meeting the canal; the park is after this turn). Park in the parking area; then walk back up the road to the sharp turn. Just after this turn will be a sandy opening on the right that goes steeply uphill. Follow this trail.
Round Trip Trail Length: Each is less than ½ mile (0.8 km)
Facilities: None in general; picnic tables at Sailfish Street Park
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
This Week’s Featured Product!
This is my favorite guide to birds, fish, and shells in Holden Beach. We first discovered the book in one of the beach houses we rented in the mid-1990s; a member of our group was so impressed with it that she purchased one for us for Christmas. Colored pictures in the middle of the book make identifying shells simple for the casual beachcomber. We wouldn’t go to the beach without it.
Mon Dec 11
Mainly clear. Lows overnight in the low 40s.
Tue Dec 12
Sunny, along with a few afternoon clouds. High 58F. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph.
Wed Dec 13
Mainly sunny. High 46F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.
Thu Dec 14
Sunny. High 58F. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph.
Fri Dec 15
Chance of Rain
Cloudy in the morning, then off and on rain showers during the afternoon hours. High 61F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.