Jockey’s Ridge State Park-An Outer Banks Hidden Gem

The view from the  top of a dune on the north end of our hidden gem--Jockey's Ridge State Park.
The view from the top of a dune on the north end of our hidden gem–Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
Discover the Unexpected at Jockey’s Ridge State Park

There are, throughout the Outer Banks unexpected finds–a hidden gem, if you will. Places that may be a bit more difficult to get to, but getting there is worth every bit of the effort.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head is one of those places.

There may be a hue and cry going up right now, saying, “Jockey’s Ridge? A hidden gem?”

That’s reasonable—Jockey’s Ridge itself is the highest natural sand dune on the East Coast. It’s the home of the oldest and one of the largest hang gliding schools in the United States. And it may be the finest place anywhere to fly a kite.

So it’s not like no one knows about it.

Yet away from the hang gliding and the kites, there is a whole other world waiting to be explored.

Some of the remarkable characteristics of Jockey’s Ridge are visible at the end of the boardwalk from the Visitor’s Center.

There is, depending on how much rain has fallen and how recently, either a large swath of damp sand with a heavy growth of grasses or a pond that extends almost to the base of Jockey’s Ridge. The pond is called a vernal pond and it is created when so much rain water seeps through the sand that pressure on the underlying aquifer forces water to the surface.

There is a nature trail that leads to Roanoke Sound. By all means take the trail. Also take water. It gets hot.

The soundside of the Park includes a small dense maritime forest that has taken taken root in the protection of the dunes. The contrast of the verdant, damp feel of the forest with the stark, seemingly sterile sand of Jockey’s Ridge is startling.

Or take the path less traveled and head north, to the right after exiting the boardwalk.

The northern edge of the vernal pond is considered a maritime thicket, but for the past three years there has been higher than normal rainfall in the summer and is taking on more of a forest feel with larger trees with heavier foliage.

The north end includes a series of steep dunes with a different feel from the rest of the park. A bit of an effort to climb, but worth work to explore a hidden gem.

From Corolla to Nags Head, Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates & Associates has a home perfect for your vacation needs.

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