Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge
Sometimes the best aspects of the Carolina Coastline aren't located near the beach, and North Carolina's "Inner Banks," the mainland areas that are separated by the Outer Banks barrier islands by a sound, are home to several of the state's most fascinating natural habitats. In fact, the largest of the state's reserves, and also its only mainland site, is the Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge reserve at an impressive 27,000 acres.
Located approximately 15 miles south of Columbia in Tyrrell County, or approximately 30 west miles from Nags Head and the Outer Banks, the site is situated between the Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuges.
This Reserve site is especially unique in that it is a just a small component of the East Dismal Swamp, a huge wetlands complex that encompasses more than 320,000 acres in North Carolina's Dare, Tyrrell, and Washington counties. Most of this area is comprised of non-riverine swamp forest, peatland Atlantic white cedar forest, and pond pine woodlands.
Scattered clusters of old cypress and Atlantic white cedar still stand in deep organic soils, while sweet gum grows in the rare mineral soils that are found on this site, and black needle rush border the perimeter of the reserve.
The majority of the oldest Atlantic white cedar forest are long gone, having been cut, but in this reserve there is an approximate 4,000 acre area which features the most extensive contiguous example of an Atlantic white cedar forest in the state. Because of this and its sheer size, the Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge Reserve creates a habitat for a small number of rare, threatened, or endangered species. Scientists who visit this site have spotted a number of these species, including the red wolf, red-cockaded woodpecker, bald eagle, American alligator, timber rattlesnake, and pigmy rattlesnake.
In addition, Buckridge also provides a habitat for shortnose sturgeons, and high priority neotropical migrant birds. Several species of migratory birds, such as the black-throated green warbler, Swainson's warbler, and prothonotary warblers, are also dependent on this coastal plain area of southeastern-forested wetlands for breeding.
How to Get There
Because of its size, the Buckridge site is not too difficult to locate, but there are a few access points for visitors who want to explore the area. The reserve may be accessed by U.S. 64, which connects with N.C. 94 in Columbia. Traveling south on N.C. 94, there are three routes that will give a visitor access to different portions of the site, noted by a small area that has a boat landing.
Approximately ten miles down N.C. 94 is the intersection with Frying Pan Road that leads to Frying Pan Landing. Five miles farther on N.C. 94, an intersection with Gum Neck Road leads to a series of local roads that enter the reserve.
The western-most terminus of this network is Grapevine Landing while the southern end is Gum Neck Landing. Grapevine landing is an informal boat ramp, but the road leading to it bisects much of the Reserve and offers the easiest way to get a glimpse of Buckridge for most visitors. The site may also be visited by boat from the neighboring Alligator River.
While on your visit
The area is incredibly remote and no formal facilities currently exist in the reserve. Hiking along the existing roads that wind through the area, and boating along the shoreline are the best ways to observe the natural habitats. Bug Spray is especially recommended during the warmer spring, summer and fall seasons.
Hikers should take extra precautions during peak hunting season in October through December as the reserve is part of the N.C. Game Lands program.
Terms: State Reserves: Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge
Information on State Reserves: Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge