Return to Hoop Pole Creek – Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

I headed to the Hoop Pole Creek Preserve with the intention of making some photos of the Live Oak trees there while capturing video of my process. When I arrived at the parking area I realized I forgot to bring along the microphone system for shooting video. So I ditched to videography idea and concentrated on the photography. I’ll make it a point to revisit and shoot some video for my YouTube channel in the near future.

The Hoop Pole Creek reserve has been the subject of my blog posts before. Last May I penned an article on this lovely little preserve. You can find the post at I’ll mention that the trailhead is found next to the Atlantic Station Shopping Center in Atlantic Beach and suggest you refer to my previous post for more details on the location.


Creating the Images

My goal for the evening was to explore some different points of view and compositions of the more accessible Live Oaks found in the little park. One should never take the attitude that a single trip to a location is enough. There’s always a new discovery to be made or a fresh perspective to be put on previously photographed subjects.

There is a 300 year old tree that is frequently referred to as “the Portrait Tree.” As the name suggests, it is a popular location for taking family pictures and senior photos. It is the easiest Live Oak to get to, adjacent to the trail with a well worn path leading to it. The tendency is to shoot the tree from the side facing the trail. This time I challenged myself to move behind the tree, looking for a large enough hole in the undergrowth to get a photo of the “back” side.

Another area I frequently visit is a low area, frequent flooded with a few inches of water, and surrounded by several Live Oaks. At this location I made it a point to shoot from a low to the ground position, tolerating wet knees in order to frame the composition. There were wild strawberries blooming and in some of the shots I made it a point to try to include them as foreground objects.

In Conclusion

All in all I’m satisfied with the results of this outing. I came away with five or six useable shots. While I had visited the subjects before, I felt the images were pleasantly different than those from my previous visits. Consider referring back to my previous efforts using the link in the text above. You can follow me on Facebook at or on Instagram at If you’re interested in purchasing wall art or gifts bearing my fine art photography click on the “Shop” menu link. As always your comments are greatly appreciated.

The Photographs

The trail head for the Hoop Pole Creek nature trail begins on the edge of the parking lot of the Atlantic Station shopping Center. Located near the center of the ocean-side community of Atlantic Beach, this nature preserve is sometimes referred to as the “Central Park or Atlantic Beach. One of several hikes available along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, this easy path passes through a maritime forest area and leads out to a typical saltwater marsh. This piece of maritime forest was saved and is maintained by the North Carolina Coastal Federation. Plant life found here include Live Oak, Wax Myrtle, Palmetto and Yaupon Holly.
While visiting the Hoop Hole Creek Nature Reserve, Atantic Beach, North Carolina, I found this lovely Live Oak with wild strawberries blossoming a few yards in front of it. I thought it seemed like a perfect Spring image in the maritime forest. Hoop Hole Creek, sometimes known as the “Central Park of Atlantic Beach, is a small nature reserve featuring an easy hiking trail. The path leads through the maritime forest and out to the estuary behind it. The preserve is an excellent example of the forest that once covered the barrier islands off the NC coast.
This may be the best known Live Oak tree found along the Crystal Coast. At least well know to locals. It is sometimes referred to as the “Portrait Oak” as it is a popular location for family and senior photos. Located in the Hoop Hole Creek Nature Preserve, the ancient tree is estimated to be 300 years old! The nature reserve is found in the center of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. The property consists of maritime forest and estuarine wetlands. It is a prime example of barrier island ecosystem before European explorers and colonists slammed into the North American continent.
A low lying area in Hoop Hole Creek frequently floods and the soil is almost always damp. Surrounding the depression are several lovely, mature Live Oak trees. It is early Aprig and things are beginning to green up. This nature reserve protects a maritime forest ecosystem and serves as an example of what our coast looked like when Europeans first started arriving in the New World.
The sturdy limbs of the mature Live Oak tree twist, turn and curve as the reach to the sky for life giving sunshine. The base and trunk of the tree is obscured by a thick undergrowth. The light coming in from the left side accentuates the textures of the bark. This beautiful old tree is located a bit off the path that is the Hoop Pole Creek Nature trail in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. There are many picturesque oaks in the nature preserve, most protected by heavy underbrush making them difficult if not impossible to photograph. The purpose of parks like this is important to respect. Bushwacking off the trail into thick undergrowth can be damaging to the environment. Photographers and visitors alike should resist the temptation to force their way through the brush. The Hoop Pole Creek Preserve was developed and is maintained by the NC Coastal Federation. The park protects a native maritime forest area. At one time much of this barier island, Bogue Banks, was covered by this type of ecosystem. The preserve provides a glimpse of how the area looked with European explorers first reached the North American continent.

This entry was posted in General Photography, Hiking Trail, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Uncategorized.


  1. Steve Heap April 3, 2022 at 12:58 pm #

    Great story and images. I particularly liked the one with the beginnings of a sunset behind.

  2. jim hughes April 4, 2022 at 4:58 pm #

    Those huge gnarly oaks are a beautiful photo subject. It’s sad to reflect on how widespread they were in pre-colonial times. Here in Minnesota there’s a movement afoot to restore lost “oak savannas” which once covered 10% of the state.

  3. Louis Dallara April 24, 2022 at 8:44 am #

    Bob; Awesome tree work, love the B & W.

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