When visiting North Carolina’s Wilmington area, a trip just isn’t complete without a visit to our beautiful beaches. The mix of sand dunes, stunning beaches, cool blue waters, and beach attractions is just too much to miss! However, each beach has its own set of Leash Laws specific which can vary by season. It would seem that most are dog friendly but each is listed below – Freeman Park, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Fort Fisher, and Wrightsville Beach. And before taking your dog to any of the local beaches, owners must observe certain rules: proof of vaccinations including rabies must be tagged on the dog’s collar; and all dog waste MUST be picked up, no exceptions, or face a $50.00 fine.
Likewise, due to our warm temperatures and the likelihood that running on the sand will quickly wear out your dog, owners should provide an adequate water supply for their animal; drinking salt water will make your dog sick. Morning and evening are good walking times for your animal as the sand is cooler; hot sand can burn the pads on your dog’s paws.
A friend of mine who is a dog owner offered another leash suggestion: secure your dog when a jogger comes by. Joggers are often afraid that the dog will chase after them, regardless of the dog’s size, and seem to appreciate when she secures her dog until they get by. Keep your dog close until the jogger has passed by. (Thank you Susan.)
Dogs are welcome at Freeman Park at the North end of Carolina Beach and there are leash laws in effect. From October 1st through March 31st, dogs may be off leash so long as they remain within reasonable distance of the owner and under voice command. From April 1st through September 30th, dogs MUST have a leash to remain at the park.
Dogs are required to be on a leash at all times. Dogs are allowed on the beach from November 1st to February 28th. Dogs are Not allowed on the beach from March 1st through October 30th. However, there is a dog park in Carolina Beach at Mike Chappell Park and Carolina Beach State Park is a wonderful place to take your pup on a hike.
You may walk your leashed dog on the Kure Beach strand from October 1st to March 31st. However, it is unlawful for any person to have or allow their dog to be upon the beach strand of Kure Beach during the period of April 1st through September 30th of each year. Joe Eakes Park is located on K Avenue going west. It is across the street from the Kure Beach Police Department. There, you’ll find a fenced-in area behind the playground and the tennis courts. This is the Gurney Hood Barking Lot, made especially for you and your pooch pal to run free.
Dogs are allowed here year round so long as they are on a leash, no exceptions.
Your pet must Always be on a leash while in the town of Wrightsville Beach. However, dogs are Not allowed on the beach strand from April 1st through September 30th.
While the beaches and towns are less accommodating in the busy season, local parks and areas are dog friendly and they are free!
Entropy Boat Rentals
7618 Mason Landing Rd., Wilmington, NC 910.675.1877
Pets can swim, dig, and play at this pet friendly beach.
Abbey Nature Preserve
10200 HWY 17 North, Wilmington, NC
Dogs must be on a leash. There is a 2.4 mile path that is a great hour or so long walk with your dog.
River to the Sea Bikeway
Dog must be on a leash. This is a route consisting of streets, paths, and sidewalks from Downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach. Many sections of the bikeway make a great long walk option if you don’t mind an adventurous walk and temperatures are right to accommodate your animal. Keep an eye out for cars and bikers. Learn more at http://www.rivertoseabikeway.com/
For more places to take your pup check out Off Leash Dog Parks in Wilmington.
My years of experience have taught me that when in doubt, put your dog on a leash for a safe and enjoyable time. It is always helpful to check into the visitor’s bureaus wherever you are staying, not just for your dog’s sake but to find activities and events that will be of interest to your family. There is much culture and rich history in the Wilmington area, and many sites not to be missed. Local or visiting from afar, Wilmington welcomes you to explore the area with your entire family, two and four-footed members!
Page updated 3/28/2012 – laws, regulations, and other details subject to change.
Kathy Bentz, Local Expert
A recently relocated New Englander, enjoying the sunshine, and still finding our way in Wilmington. Looking to become acquainted with the community, and using writing and photographs to record my adventures!!