Bald Head Woods

The 173-acre Bald Head Woods reserve is located just east of the Cape Fear River, and is part of the Smith Island Complex, a protected coastal area. This barrier island complex is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and south sides, and Zeke's Island to the north.

The higher sandy grounds of the Smith Island Complex are composed of Bald Head, Middle, and Bluff Islands, which are three forested dune ridges separated by salt marshes. The Bald Head Woods reserve is located in the middle of Bald Head Island and is managed by the Division of Coastal Management. The Bald Head Woods reserve is located in the middle of Bald Head Island and is managed by the Division of Coastal Management.

Bald Head Woods also has a unique feature that separates it from the other reserves and coastal communities, namely the old, large trees that comprise this maritime forest. Giant Live oaks, laurel oaks, and several, less populated trees dominate the landscape and provide cover and shelter for other species of plants to thrive, blocked by the neighboring ocean's salt spray. Wild olive, American holly, yaupon, and catbrier all benefit from this protection, and form a thick undergrowth under the canopy of giant trees.

Draped in shade, plants that don't like a lot of sunlight can thrive, including spleenwort and cabbage palmetto. Animals take advantage of this protected area as well, and gray squirrels, raccoons, and opossums thrive in the forest, as do Carolina wrens, cardinals, and painted buntings. Migratory birds make an appearance in the fall, including catbirds, towhees, blue jays, and twenty-two species of warblers.

How to get there

Bald Head Island can be visited by a private ferry that departs from the Indigo marina in Southport.

While on your visit

Be sure and bring your walking shoes. Cars are not allowed anywhere on the island, but visitors have the option to rent bicycles and golf carts, and maps are available to direct visitors to Bald Head Woods. An interpretive trail, which is also wheelchair accessible, can be found at the reserve entrance.

More Information:

Terms: State Reserves: Bald Head Woods

Information on State Reserves: Bald Head Woods

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