The Other Side of the Outer Banks

Kitty Hawk Woods in June.

Surprising but true-there are hiking trails on the Outer Banks. No need for boots or even heavy shoes, in most cases running shoes or even good sturdy sandals should be enough.

It’s another side to the Outer Banks, one many never get to experience, but for the (slightly) adventurous, it’s a nice change of scenery from the beach.

Nags Head Woods

The entrance to Nags Head Woods is in Kill Devil Hills and it seems to be evenly divided between KDH and Nags Head. Administered by the Nature Conservancy, Nags Head Woods is 1100 acres of surprisingly steep hills, wetlands, dense forest and even a sand dune on the south side-although that’s more difficult to get to.

The hills are relict sand dunes that have become covered in a more dense soil that allows hardwood trees to grow. The elevation gain is abrupt, giving a hike an almost mountain-like feel. The trails run along ridges that drop into deep ravines with hardwood trees the dominant forestation along the ridge lines.

Kitty Hawk Woods

Part of the NC Coastal Reserve system, Kitty Hawk Woods, is larger–almost 2000 acres-than Nags Head Woods, flatter and easier to hike, but similar in many ways. There are ridges, swales and swamp with hardwood trees dominating the ridges.

Bikes are allowed in Kitty Hawk Woods, and the trails are ideal for a moderately skilled rider.

Best bet is to get a trail map online. There is an office on Kitty Hawk Road, but the one man crew has responsibility for three reserves scattered from Corolla to Buxton.