This blog shares a map and route information with consideration for safety, parking, distance, terrain, services, and landmarks. We hope this guide helps locals and visitors delight in the special nature and history of our area.
1. Owens’ Welcome
Begin your visit to the Outer Banks with a saunter to the Croatan Sound overlook. Immerse yourself in the fringe of the maritime forest and reflect on your journey to the islands. Public parking, restrooms, and water are always available at the Welcome Center, along with outdoor interpretive signage. This promenade path is easily accessible for all ages and abilities!
This historic route connects the Croatan Sound to Fort Raleigh and the First Light of Freedom Memorial. The monument recognizes the NC Civil War Heritage Trail and is centrally located near the National Park Service Visitor Center, Elizabethan Gardens, and Lost Colony facilities. After your return walk, absorb the sunset over Manns Harbor from the Umstead Bridge beach.
3. New Oregon Inlet
Witness the raw, relentless power of the Atlantic Ocean as it intersects with the 3-mile structural engineering marvel of the Basnight Bridge. Prepare appropriately for this physically challenging route that offers no protection from sun, wind, sand, rain, or waves. Even experienced hikers should check tide cycles and maintain visibility, as vehicles may be driving in some sections.
This route provides a few bonus opportunities. First, the length is ideal for trail runners or hikers who want to practice carrying weight for a thru-hike. Second, each terminus is adjacent to other public trail networks. Also, leashed dogs are allowed on the Town Trail, but bikes are not. The woods provide relief from the summer sun and winter wind, but cannot help with flying insects.
The Wright Brothers Monument is visible from the multi-use path, but the authorized entrance is at the NPS main gate. Colington Road was improved in 2023 for bike and pedestrian mobility, extending paved shoulders to 7 feet, W of Baum Bay Drive. Carry cash for the Blue Crab, and visit the nearby parks, gardens, and “Jockey’s Trail” sign in the Brewing Station backyard.
This is a popular path for local dog walkers, runners, cyclists, and e-bikers. Parking is available at Hayman, Moor(e) Shore, or Windgrass Circle Park, which closes 30 minutes after sunset. Please use caution and hug the guardrail N of Lejac Street, where the multi-use path ends. Windgrass Park is also the trailhead for the historic .35-mile Wright Brothers Multi-Use Path.
7. The Woods Road
This is a quiet, shaded route that may remind mountain hikers of Blue Ridge Parkway sections. The road speed limit is 35 mph, and the few crosswalks are well-marked. Sandy Run Park also has a .45-mile boardwalk loop into Duck Pond Creek. The adjacent Kitty Hawk Woods trails are managed by the NC Coastal Reserve for research and education, allowing for compatible use.
Dogwood Trail is a public path that runs between Jean Guite Creek and Duck Woods CC, past a graveyard, private marinas, onto NC 12. This paved, flat, and shaded route is an opportunity to view the charming Southern Shores community, otherwise requiring a parking permit. A small grove separates Fairway and Duck Woods Drive, with Callie’s Bench providing a place to rest.
9. Chicahauk Dune
This route tours past traditional beach box cottages on NC 12 before veering into the secluded, sylvan neighborhood. Early birds will appreciate the sunrise over the Atlantic, but please use marked crosswalks for detours to the ocean. The Monument to a Century of Flight is located at the nearby Aycock Brown Welcome Center, SW of the Bypass curve, and is well-worth a visit.
10. Duck Boardwalk
Check the Town of Duck’s LIVE Traffic Cam before departing for Duck or destinations N of Dare. The sound boardwalk is nearly a mile long, with the distinct Carolina blue water tower marking the N end and beginning of the new living shoreline with sidewalk improvements. This route ends S of the Duck FD, with a view of the Army Corps of Engineers 140-foot observation tower.
As always, we promote safe, inclusive, and responsible Leave No Trace outdoor recreation for the purpose of health and education. When you are ready to begin your adventure, the FREE online interactive map can be downloaded through the Google Maps App which allows mobile users to view the routes, waypoints, and their GPS location. This project was made possible by a grant from The Outer Banks Community Foundation.