When you think of the Outer Banks, you probably picture images of warm and sandy beaches, historic lighthouses, Atlantic breezes, and charming towns. However, have you ever imagined yourself hiking on the Outer Banks? You may be surprised to know that there are several unique places to trek or stroll, depending on your experience level. Rather than steep hikes up the side of a mountain, this popular seaside getaway offers steep climbs up and down sand dunes and journeys through maritime forests. The trails can be long or short, arduous or relaxing, it’s up to you. But one thing is for sure – the views will be outstanding. So pack your best hiking shoes and gear, plenty of water, and some energy snacks. Or take advantage of Chef Carol’s lite-fare menu at the White Doe Inn by packing a few gourmet sandwiches, salads or wraps to enjoy along the way.
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site – 7 min. from the Inn
Take a step back in time, literally, to a centuries-old mystery in American history. This historic site dates to the late 1500’s when English explorers landed here, on what is now known as Roanoke Island. Seen as an ideal place to live, Sir Walter Raleigh sent a couple settlement parties. The first returned home after one year. The second party, 117 men, women, and children, mysteriously disappeared. Known as the Lost Colony, historians are still baffled today by the fate of these settlers. In addition to historic tours and attractions, this fascinating site offers nature trails to trek:
- The Thomas Harriot Nature Trail – This 20-minute stroll through Roanoke Island wilderness offers a glimpse of what the terrain was like for the Lost Colonists over 400 years ago. In addition to the beautiful scenery, you’ll note signs along the way indicating certain sites, species, and plant life that the original colonist observed on their expeditions.
- The Freedom Trail – This 1.25 mile trail begins near the Elizabethan Gardens and travels through the park bordering the island’s western edge. Amidst 50’ pine trees and clusters of cedars and Live Oak trees, keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of the Roanoke Sound.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park – 16 min. from the Inn
North Carolina’s most visited park, located in Nag’s Head, covers 426 acres and includes the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern US. This day-use only park contains three unique ecosystems: the Roanoke Sound, the dune system, and the maritime forest. Choose from one of these two trails:
- Tracks in the Sand – This 1.5 mile leisurely paced trail begins at the parking lot, goes over the dunes, to Sound Side, and back. The trail focuses on the harsh, yet fragile sand dune environment and the plants and animals that call it home. Shoes are a must.
- Tracks in the Sand Trail – This 1.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail is located near the Sound Side and offers an opportunity to see wildlife. Primarily used for hiking, walking, and trail running, this trail is open year-round.
Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve – 34 min. from the Inn
This Reserve is a large parcel of maritime deciduous forest, maritime swamp forest, marshes, and creeks. Trailheads are located at the end of Birch Lane, Ridge Road, and at the junction of Amadas Lane and Colleton Ave. Several primitive hiking trails intertwine through the forest and eventually lead to the Currituck Sound. If you choose to tackle the trails deep in the woods, you will find ancient, 30’ dune ridges that date back thousands of years.
These are just a few of the hiking options on the Outer Banks. After a few hours trekking the trails and taking in the sights, come back to your comfortable and luxurious room at the White Doe Inn to relax and unwind. To help replenish your energy supply, we offer dining at the inn Thursday through Saturday and a complimentary gourmet breakfast each morning. So, reserve your room at the White Doe Inn today, where scenic adventures, luxurious comfort, warm hospitality, and good food await you!