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Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve: A Wildlife Wonderland

wildlife in Kitty Hawk

Longingto connect with nature? Visit Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve in the NC OuterBanks. Bordered by US 158 to the east and Currituck Sound to the west, it's atranquil hidden oasis covering some 1,824 acres of unspoiled natural beauty.

Hereyou and your family can spend a few serene hours exploring maritime forest andmarshland. Towering pines and hardwoods shelter colorful woodland wildlife,while creeks, swamps, and marshes teem with all kinds of waterfowl.

Gohiking, birding, cycling, horseback riding, fishing, and even hunting (in season,with a valid license). Love the water? Choose boating, kayaking, and paddleboardingon the sound's sparkling, placid waters. Or picnic by a creek or along thesound and savor a magnificent sunset. By all means, bring your K-9 kid! Petsare allowed, provided they're kept on a leash.

Allthis in a stunning setting, far removed from the hustle-bustle yet just minutesfrom Kitty Hawk Beach.

Multiple Ways to Get There

Ifyou're traveling by car, park at either of two small lots - one at David PaulPruitt Park, the other at Sandy Run Park. Both lots give you access to amultiuse path that runs along Woods Road. From this path you can reach the edgeof the Reserve and the entrance at Covered Bridge Road.

Ifyou're coming by kayak, you can reach the Reserve via Currituck Sound. Ifhiking or biking, look for access via several nearby trailheads (withright-of-way parking available).

Multiple Things to Enjoy

Onceyou arrive at the Coastal Reserve, be sure to check out the visitor center at983 West Kitty Hawk Road. Take time to chat with expert staff, pick upinformative brochures, and find out how to obtain NC fishing and hunting licenses.

Thenget set to explore!

Lovesand dunes? Wait till you see the Reserve's massive dune ridges - some of them thousandsof years old - reaching up to 30 feet high. Above them soar tall deciduoustrees - red oaks, water oaks, hickories, sweet gums, American beech, and more -along with loblolly pines. These impressive shade-bearers provide protectivecanopy for turtles, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, gray foxes, white-tail deer,possums, snakes, and even a few bobcats.

Thisis the Maritime Deciduous Forest, one of the Reserve's three main ecosystems.Along with hardwoods, this virtually salt-free habitat hosts lush southernvegetation ranging from hollies and flowering dogwoods to Virginia Creeper andmuscadine vines.

Betweenthe dune ridges, you'll find moist lower areas (called swales), where sweet gums, red maples, and bald cypress abound. Theseare the Maritime Swamp Forests, home to a variety of insects and amphibians,including frogs, toads, and two kinds of salamanders.

Allacross the Reserve water abounds - from the freshwater High Bridge Creek to thebrackish and freshwater marshes, ponds, and estuaries. Cordgrass and black needlerush thrive in the brackish waters, while cattails, willows, and wax myrtlesflourish along the freshwater marshes.

A Birder's Paradise

Ifyou're an avid birdwatcher, you're in for a treat. Countless birds live, nest,or over-winter in the Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve.

Inthe drier deciduous forest, you'll spot owls, hawks, warblers, woodpeckers, wrens,and various local songbirds, all seeking shelter from the ocean's salty winds.

Nearcreeks and marshes, you'll find ducks, ospreys, ibises, kingfishers, and greatblue herons. You may even spot a majestic bald eagle nesting atop a cypresstree.

That'snot counting the seasonal visitors. When migratory birds fly south along theAtlantic Flyway, they often stop to rest and recharge at Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve.Come in fall and winter to glimpse Canadian geese and other temporarytravelers.

An Extensive Network of Hiking Trails

Hikingenthusiast? You're in hiker's heaven. Numerous trails crisscross the Kitty HawkWoods Coastal Reserve, including some primitive trails blazed over a centuryago. Information kiosks along the walking trails provide fascinating detailsabout nearby flora and fauna.

Somewetland trails can be muddy and slippery, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes withtraction for safe, secure footing. Also bring along plenty of bug spray: Inwarm weather the moist environment attracts mosquitos and biting flies.

Water Sports in the Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve

Owna canoe or kayak? A public boat ramp on Bob Perry Road provides access to HighBridge Creek. There's no fee, so launch and enjoy.

Readyto make a splash? Take a kayaking tour along High Bridge Creek, beneath lushforest canopy. Or opt for a kayak adventure on nearby Currituck Sound, the onlyfreshwater sound in the NC Outer Banks. Either way, you'll enjoy unparalleled peaceand privacy.

Withits quiet, sheltered waters, the sound is also a perfect spot for stand-uppaddleboarding. It's ideal for fishing, too, thanks to its abundance of catfishand largemouth bass.

So Close Yet So Secluded

At its eastern edge, Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve lies just a quarter of a mile from the ocean. Yet it feels like a whole separate world, where you can escape the cares and stresses of your busy everyday life. You'll love it, and so will your family.

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