Posted on 10/4/2023 by Southern Shores Realty

Outer Banks Trail Guide

The beach is a cornerstone to an Outer Banks vacation, but did you know the Outer Banks offers multiple locations to explore trails where you can learn about estuaries, pine forests, and wildlife on the Outer Banks?

Nags Head Woods Preserve

Nags Head Woods Preserve is located at 701 W. Ocean Acres Dr., Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948-8848.

Perfect for a quick stroll or a longer adventure, Nags Head Woods Preserve protects one of the largest remaining maritime forests on the East Coast. Trails are open daily from dawn until dusk and are accessed from the preserve’s parking area. Offering over 8 miles of total trails, trail length varies from a 0.25 loop trail to a 3.0 mile out and back trail featuring wooded dunes, ponds and brackish marsh loaded with plant and animal life. Trails are great for families, are fee free and many are pet friendly. 

During the summer, free guided hikes are typically offered on Tuesday mornings. On Friday mornings during the summer, the Preserve hosts interpretive Fridays for visitors to learn more about the plants and animals that call Nags Head Woods home.

When visiting Nags Head Woods be sure to bring water, sunscreen, and bug spray. Closed toe shoes and long pants are also recommended. More information can be found on the Nags Head Wood Preserve website, on Facebook @nagsheadwoodspreserve or email for more information.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Located at 300 W. Carolista Dr., Nags Head, NC 27959

A trip to the Outer Banks is not complete without a visit to Jockey's Ridge State Park. Home to the tallest living sand dune system on the Atlantic coast, Jockey's Ridge is a site not to be missed. Climb the dunes, take in the panoramic view spanning from the sea to the sound, find the perfect spot to fly a kite or simply pause and watch the sunset. It is guaranteed to be a memorable adventure! 

In addition to climbing the dune, the park features two self-guided trails winding through multiple ecosystems. The soundside nature trail is a self-guided trail approximately 0.6 mile long passing through several different coastal environments, including a wetland area, grassy dunes and maritime thickets. The Tracks in the Sand trail is a 1.2 mile self-guided trail that begins at the main parking lot. The trail traverses the dunes to the soundside, and back. The park also features a newly renovated visitor center with state-of -the-art exhibits on Outer Banks history, ecosystems and wildlife. 

Enjoy the park trails on your own or join a park ranger for a guided hike or educational program. There is no fee to visit Jockey's Ridge State Park. Ranger led programs are also free although some may require pre-registration. 

Learn more about Jockey’s Ridge State Park and find a calendar of upcoming events at:

Enjoy the adventure!

Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary

Birds and wildlife abound on this 2.5 mile (one way) nature trail located behind the Pine Island Tennis Club. This trail is part of the Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary and follows the path of the former dirt road between Duck and Corolla.  The trail passes through maritime forests and features two overlooks with unobstructed views of The Pine Island, Currituck Marshes and Currituck Sound. Grab your walking shoes and your binoculars and head out to spot something extraordinary.  

The nature trail trailhead is located behind the Pine Island Tennis Club. Follow the signs to the nature trail located behind the building. More information is available online at:

Sandy Run Park

Sandy Run Park is located at 4343 The Woods Rd., Kitty Hawk, NC

Sandy Run Park is a charming and scenic park offering a lovely nature walk on its half-mile boardwalk path. The path features two gazebos, a canoe/kayak access, a nature observation tower, and a fishing pier. As you meander, look for turtles, jumping fish, lizards, and a variety of birds. Enjoy a picnic at the covered pavilion, cast a line, cookout at one of the grills, or shoot some hoops on the half court. Peaceful and picturesque, Sandy Run Park is a public park open year round from 7 am to 8 pm.

Two miles down the road and connected by a path, is David Paul Pruitt Jr. Multiuse Path and Park. This small park has a playground, picnic tables, and a multi-use path for non-motorized activities.

Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve

Maritime forest, marshes, brackish swamplands, and interdune ponds are found at Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve  located off Woods Road in Kitty Hawk. This 461 acre reserve spans from the Currituck Sound to Kitty Hawk Bay and offers hiking trails loaded with wildlife, abundant foliage and picturesque sound views. 

To access the reserve, park your vehicle at David Paul Pruitt Jr. Park or Sandy Run Park. Hiking trails are available for day use only. Please remember to stay on designated trails to protect the delicate habitats in the reserve. There is so much to explore, you will be amazed that you are just one quarter mile from the beach!

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