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“If your dog is fat,” goes the old saying, “you’re not getting enough exercise.” But walking the dog doesn’t have to be just a bit of exercise. Here are 10 cool things to see off the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina while walking the dog.


Wilmington is often called “Hollywood East” and film productions have made extensive use of Carolina’s coastal scenery. Forest Gump’s Vietnam scenes were filmed at Hunting Beach State Park. Trees reach down to the beach and the lush tropical feel of the vegetation gives off the aura of a jungle. A trail leads along an inland lagoon where Forrest saved Lt. Dan. A few years later, Hunting Island doubled for Quang Tri province in Vietnam when Samuel Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones showed up for Rules of Engagement. In 1982, Louis Jordan was a mad scientist trying to create new species in the Swamp Garden of Magnolia Plantation in Swamp Thing. And if you’re hiking with your dog along the Sugarloaf Trail in Carolina Beach State Park, you might recognize a few spots where dead body Terry Kiser water skied from Weekend at Bernie’s.


One of the most unique destinations of any trail on the Carolina shores is the 12-foot-tall pile of oyster shells at Edisto Beach State Park on the Spanish Mount Trail. The oyster pile, known as a shell dump, is typical of American Indian rings found on offshore islands. Spanish Mount is estimated to be 4,000 years old, the second oldest known in South Carolina. These stacks of bleached shells could have been built for ceremonies or are possibly just ancient rubbish heaps.


It’s a giant sandbox for your dog at Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks, whose 90-foot dunes are the tallest on the East Coast. The trails are laid out through the sand. On dry land, the Sugarloaf Trail at Carolina Beach State Park leads to a 50-foot pile of sand that was often used as a navigational aid in years past.


Archer Huntington designed his Moorish castle, Atalaya, on Murrells Inlet from memory after a trip to Spain. It can be seen today at Huntington State Park. The most spectacular home ever built on the Outer Banks was Edward Kinght’s Corolla Island. It spent $400,000 on the Fine Arts exhibit in 1925 and has been restored to its original splendor at Currituck Heritage Park. But the most visited house on the Carolina shores may be a World War II bunker in the dunes of Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. For 17 years, “Fort Fisher Hermit” Robert Herrill lived here. When word spread about Herrill’s lifestyle, so many people came to hear his life philosophies that North Carolina officials called it the second largest tourist attraction in the state, behind only the battleship North Carolina.


Dog-friendly Magnolia Plantation gives your pooch the rare opportunity to walk through a formal garden, one of the oldest in America. In addition to the 900 varieties of camellias on display, the Charleston Garden is planted with more than 250 types of azaleas.


Over the years, 29 prehistoric Algonquian Indian canoes have been discovered in Pettigrew State Park’s Phelps Lake, preserved in shallow water. The canoes were built by burning straight cypress logs over low heat and scraping away the charred sections. They were stored for the winter in the muds of the lake. Two are on display in the park, one from AD 380 and the other from AD 1440.


There are five lighthouses in the Outer Banks that your dog can visit: three in Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The oldest working lighthouse in North Carolina is the 75-foot tower on Ocracoke Island and the 150-foot Bodie Island Lighthouse dates from 1872. The most famous, and the tallest in the United States at 208 feet , is the black and white lighthouse with swirl stripes. Hatteras Lighthouse. In South Carolina, your dog can trot around the only public light in Palmetto State at Hunting Island State Park.


In various places along the Carolina coasts, your dog can walk through the unique habitats of pocoins, swamps named after the Indian term for “swamp on a hill.” The plants that live in these nutrient-poor soils have evolved to trap insects and digest them into lethal juices. Killers like Venus’ Fly Traps, blatterworts, and sundews can be seen in North Carolina at Carolina Beach State Park and in South Carolina at Audubon-Newhall Preserve, among others.


Beginning with the first English earthworks in the New World at Fort Raleigh, the defense of the Carolina coast has always been a military priority. His dog can examine the defensive earthworks at Moores Creek, site of a critical American victory during the Revolution, and walk the Civil War masonry bastion at Fort Macon. Or the most primitive earthworks of the Civil War at Fort Lamar. To get a glimpse of the modern fortification, take the dog to Battery Jasper in Fort Moultrie, but don’t be disappointed if he’s more interested in the beach.


The low country was once an ancient seabed, a vast graveyard for millions of years of sea creatures. These marine deposits near the ground surface contain phosphate and calcium, valuable minerals in making cement and for fertilizing fields. Minerals were mined with enthusiasm in the 19th century, and phosphate mines brought prosperity to cities devastated by the Civil War. The Edisto Nature Trail leads to a former mining site and processing plant where phosphate was loaded onto barges and shipped down the river to Charleston.

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