Nature Trails on Hatteras Island


For the most part, vacations on the Outer Banks mean lots of time outdoors. Whether on the beach, meandering about town, or simply hanging around the pool at one of our Hatteras, Salvo, Avon or Rodanthe NC vacation rentals, the goal is to enjoy lazy days in the sun.

But, for guests who like to see nature in its most natural environment, there is nothing like a good hike on one of the nature trails on Hatteras Island. There is no better way to see the wildlife, foliage and waterways than by hiking through the maritime reserves. Here are a few where we suggest that everyone hit the dusty trail for a nice hike.

North Pond Trail, Pea Island National Refuge, Rodanthe, NC

As one of the most well-known natural areas on the Outer Banks, the Pea Island National Refuge encompasses over 5,800 acres of land in addition to over 25,000 acres of water. The refuge itself is about 13 miles long and includes so much from ocean beaches to high sand dunes to salt flats and marshes. The cool thing about the refuge is that there are over 400 bird species of which many are out and about for all to see. It is well worth a half or even full day excursion as it is so fascinating to see. To make a whole day, we suggest you plan with snacks and plenty of water as you get caught up in seeing everything and forget about time. Open since 1937, the park is seasonally staffed with volunteers who are very well verse in the refuge and can answer any questions you may have.

Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve Nature Trail, Buxton, NC

Buxton Woods is the one of the largest remaining maritime forests on the entire east coast of the US. Running from Buxton all the way to Frisco, it features an easy ¾-mile loop that offers placards to identify interesting topographical and botanical tidbits for those who are interested in learning about maritime forests. And, trust us, after reading a couple of them, everyone is interested in learning more. Also, for first time guests to one of our Hatteras NC vacation rentals, this is the perfect place to spend a cool and tranquil afternoon as it seldom sees visitors in the summer and can be quite deserted.

Sea Breeze Trail, Hatteras Village Park, Hatteras, NC

The Sea Breeze Trail is a wonderful trail located in Hatteras Village Park, a nature reserve. The trail is an elevated boardwalk that winds through a maritime forest and salt marsh. Easy to maneuver, there are free guide booklets available to familiarize visitors with everything along the trail. The booklets are keyed to animal and plant species to make it easier for visitors identify what they observe. This is a perfect place to walk and enjoy being one with nature.

Open Ponds Trail, Hatteras Island, NC

Over four miles in length, the Open Ponds Trail is used by the Mountains to Sea Trail. It is considered one of the favorite trails on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The trailheads are located at the Frisco Campground and near the British Cemetery with the trail winding through the maritime forest in Buxton Woods. The most important takeaway with the Open Ponds Trail is to dress accordingly. It is laden with ticks and other insects. Therefore, we strongly recommend everyone cover up especially with a hat, the proper shoes (and socks) and, most of all, insect repellent. Even with the insects, this trail is worth the effort. It features gorgeous views of the Buxton Woods Maritime Forest and is ideal for hikers as well as biking. If biking is the pick of the day, pay attention to avoid heading into the sandy sections too quickly.

Switch Up the Week

The trails all over Hatteras Island are a great way to switch up the week by adding something different. Yes, there is something amazing about sitting on the beach and watching the dolphins frolic about, but walking through the maritime forests is also something to see. The opportunity to see so many birds and other animals as well as some of the lushest landscaping ever is something of which everyone visiting the Outer Banks should take advantage.