Hiking in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

by Crystal Huskey
Hike through a nature reserve in the Outer Banks.

Hike through a nature reserve in the Outer Banks.

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The Outer Banks area of North Carolina is a chain of islands along the coast. Although the area is well-known for its wild horses that often gallop along the coast, the hiking trails are more of a hidden treasure. The landscape of the Outer Banks is rich in wildlife and unusual vegetation. The Venus Flytrap is native to the area, along with many animals rarely seen in populated areas. Thousands of acres are set aside as national parks and reserves, and hiking trails crisscross the otherwise undisturbed wildlife.

Nags Head Woods

Nags Heads Woods is an ecological preserve. More than a thousand acres belong to the preserve, which features sand dunes, ponds and wetlands. The trails open at dawn and close at dusk. A total of six trails wind through this marshy area, including one that is handicap accessible. The Nags Head Town Trail leads to the ocean after crossing over a number of sandy dunes, and the Roanoke Trail leads you through a dense forest. A map of all the trails is available at the administrative building by the main park entrance. Nags Head Woods is located in Kill Devil Hills.

Jockey's Ridge State Park

Jockey's Ridge has a trail across the dunes, a 360-foot. boardwalk and a scenic nature trail. The dunes change regularly with the weather patterns, so your view will never be the same, no matter how often you hike the same trail. Hike early, because the sands can get hot in the late afternoon. This is also located in Kill Devil Hills.

Buxton Woods

Buxton Woods is located on Hatteras Island. It is more than 1,000 acres and, like most other areas on the Outer Banks, is home to a maritime swamp forest and dunes. Many migratory birds find their way to Buxton Woods during the fall. Take a ferry from Cedar Island or approach the area from N.C. 12. Hunting season is from September through February, so wear brightly colored clothes if you plan on hiking then. Hiking trails are scattered throughout the area. You'll see many different types of animals here, including deer, peregrine falcons, gray fox, mink and otters.

Currituck Banks Coastal Estuarine Reserve

The Currituck Banks Coastal Estuarine Reserve is just north of Corolla, North Carolina. A 1 1/2-mile primitive trail veers away from the less strenuous boardwalk hike. The diversity of the plant life at this area gave it its reserve status. The reserve contains beaches, sand dunes and grasslands.

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