A lot of The Outer Banks is seasonal. We came here for winter break so many of the tourist traps were closed for the winter and I’m sure there’s fun to be had at them but they are just that, traps. The wild side, that is the wildlife refuges, is open year round.
We traveled The Outer Banks from Carolla to Ocracoke but our first visit was to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, just a couple miles from our campground. Our kids have grown to love hikes and let me just say that these are more like “walks” but there’s beauty to be seen just the same. Pea Island’s North Pond Wildlife Trail is an out and back stroll with a small observation tower at the end. There’s numerous water fowl to be seen and we spotted a couple of turtles as well.
Our next venture was in Ocracoke, the southernmost tip of The Outer Banks. Springer’s Point Nature Preserve is a quaint hike through woodlands that ends at a beach. It’s actually hidden in a neighborhood. There’s no street parking in the subdivision but you can park at a nearby church. There are numerous little touches installed by caretakers of the trail along the way and even an old little cemetery near the end.
The picture above and next couple below are of the beach at the end of Springer’s Point. It was a wonderful place to have lunch and there’s even a crab sanctuary at the point.
Next we went to The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. We walked both The Creef Cut Trail (which seems to have been renamed) and Sandy Ridge Trail. We also drove around some of the gravel roads within the park scoping out wildlife. Sadly perhaps, we saw no alligators. Seems its still a little cold to see them. We saw no bears either. We did talk to a woman that had been watching an otter, in fact she said she saw the otter eating a turtle but we only saw birds and turtles. Do you think the wildlife can hear us coming?
We had gone the whole week without seeking out the Spanish Colonial Wild Mustangs so we ventured out our last day in OBX in fact even after we checked out of the campground. We actually parked our camper at The Wright Brothers Memorial and took the Jeep out to The Currituck National Wildlife Refuge to search for these horses that have been living here since the 1500’s.
Permits for off road beach driving are not necessary in Carolla so we took the Jeep out on the beach in search of the elusive wild horses. Sad to say they were just that. We only had about 90 minutes and drove some back “roads” even interrogating a couple of locals and a helpful EMT at the fire hall but saw nary an equine. There were some horses at Ocracoke but they’re not wild anymore as they’re in a small pen and are actually called Banker’s Ponies. There’s a National Park Service Viewing Stand which is actually a deck in front of the fence. I’d skip the hour plus ferry ride if that’s all you’re heading to Ocracoke for.
You can see more of these wonderful refuges in the video below (in fact Alligator River was all video, no stills). We’re definitely coming back here someday and will spend more time looking for the wild horses. A week wasn’t enough time. Stay tuned as we’ll show you Jockey’s Ridge State Park and The Wright Brother’s Memorial next. Thanks for stopping by.