Kitty Hawk Woods

The summertime bustling beach town of Kitty Hawk, with a number of beach cottages and small shops and restaurants, may seem like an unlikely spot for a natural reserve. But in the heart of the town, visitors will find The Kitty Hawk Woods reserve Hawk bordering the Currituck Sound. Encompassing a total of 1,877 acres of maritime deciduous swamp, forest, and marsh, this area paints a unique portrait of an environment that was created by generations the Outer Banks' sometimes tumultuous weather.

Many years ago, several inlets created by vicious storms once cut across the Currituck Banks, allowing the salty ocean water to combine with fresh sound waters. The last of these inlets closed in 1928, and over time, the salinity of the Currituck Sound, without the ocean mingling with its water, greatly decreased.

Several estuaries were left behind, however, and these areas now serve as primary nursery grounds for fish. Bordered by a maritime forest located on a series of low ridges and swales, the eastern edge of these woods sits just a quarter mile from the ocean, where a long protected dune line runs parallel to the coast, protecting the reserve from ocean flooding, wind shear and salt spray.

Because of the unique geography of Kitty Hawk Woods, a unique combination of forests and beaches, and a great diversity of wildlife is found in the area.

Higher grounds throughout the reserve provide homes for gray fox, raccoon, and white-tailed deer. Low lying marshy areas support nutria, muskrat, river otter, and a wide spectrum of reptiles and amphibians. There are also a number of birds who flock to the marsh, including herons, egrets, geese, ducks, swans, and in the woodsy forest areas, warblers, woodpeckers, hawks, wrens, and other songbirds are abundant.

Budding botanists will be fascinated with the wide arrange of rare plant life found in this reserve, including southern twayblade and wooly beach heather. The hop hornbeam, rare in North Carolina Coastal Communities, including the Outer Banks, is only found in Kitty Hawk and Nags Head Woods.

How to Get There

Outer Banks vacationers will find that getting to the site for a long nature walk or a little bird watching is a breeze. The Reserve is located just off the main road that connects the Northern Outer Banks, U.S. 158. As it is a large reserve, there are a number of roads that border the area, but the best way to access the site is on Woods Road , which borders a multi-use path and features parking and easy access to the reserve. Parking is located behind the playground on the north end of Woods Road.

Public access to the interior of the woods can be also found at the end of Eckner Street, Amadas Road, and Birch Lane. High Bridge Creek, one of the harder-to-get-to areas of the site, is accessible by boat from the public boat ramp on Bob Perry Road.

While on your visit

The Kitty Hawk Woods site includes a number of rare and delicate habitats, and is home to an abundant variety of wildlife. As such, visitors are asked to stay on the designated trails. Horseback riders are welcomed, but riders are asked to clean up after their horses. The Reserve is closed to the public after sunset.

More Information:

Terms: State Reserves: Kitty Hawk Woods

Information on State Reserves: Kitty Hawk Woods

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