Sign In / Join
My Favs (0) 800.237.1138

Hatteras Island Hiking

Explore Natural Beauty on Outer Banks Hiking Trails

When you think of things to do on Hatteras Island, the first images that come to mind are likely those of its picturesque beaches, perfect for laying out a blanket, grabbing a board, and riding the waves. However, Hatteras Island, nestled within the Outer Banks region, offers so much more activities and sports than just aquatic activities. Nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers will be delighted to discover a hidden treasure trove of hiking trails that showcase the breathtaking beauty of this coastal paradise.

Prepare to embark on a remarkable journey as you explore an extensive network of unexpected and challenging trails scattered throughout Hatteras Island. Whether you're an avid hiker or a casual explorer, there is a trail suited for every level of experience.

To assist you in charting your hiking adventures, the knowledgeable Surf or Sound Realty team has curated a comprehensive guide. This invaluable resource will help you navigate the island's captivating trails, providing detailed information on trail lengths, difficulty levels, and notable points of interest along the way.

Scenic wooden walkway through lush vegetation for hiking and walking on Hatteras Island
Sign to the 3/4 mile loop of Buxton Woods Trail for hiking showing a picnic table

The Top Hatteras Island and Outer Banks Nature Trails

Home to one of the largest natural maritime forests on the East Coast, Hatteras Island vacationers will soon discover there is a plethora of unique Outer Banks hiking trails. The nature trails here range from easy half-mile treks leading to picturesque soundside vantage points to longer excursions that take travelers to some of Hatteras Island’s highest natural plateaus. The surprisingly deep realm of Hatteras Island hiking offers something for everyone to discover.

Whether you are looking for a full-day outing or something a bit shorter, there are a few key places to consider when planning your outdoor exploration. Plot your upcoming hiking trip by considering one of these key locations that shine a spotlight on Hatteras Island and Outer Banks hiking at its best.

Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve

Encompassing over 1,000 acres of Hatteras Island landscape, the Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve features multiple entry and exit points for Hatteras Island hikes. This natural attraction provides visitors with an opportunity to explore a seldom-seen portion of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

You can access some of the area’s best trails on a wide path just past the British Cemetery in Buxton, about a quarter-mile past the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Another option is to park and walk from small side roads close to the Buxton Water Tower. If you choose this as your starting point, look for the “Point of Interest” signs stationed by the National Scenic Byways Committee in the heart of Buxton.

Once you enter the reserve, you’ll be genuinely surprised by the terrain. Sand dunes from 1,000 years ago are found alongside loblolly pines and thick cedars. Freshwater ponds appear alongside heavily wooded trails.

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

If you’re hoping to enjoy a bit of wildlife viewing while on your hike, head to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The 5,000-acre space on the north end of Hatteras Island is known for being a go-to spot for birdwatching. Keep your eyes peeled as you make your way through the several ecosystems that make up the refuge, and you may just spot one of the over 300 species of birds found here.

Pea Island has a few different trail options. The half-mile North Pond Wildlife Trail starts at the visitor center and brings you over a turtle pond. For a slightly shorter excursion, choose the Salt Flats Wildlife Trail. However, if you’re hoping to explore both paths, the North Pond Levee trail connects the two wildlife trails and gives you the most comprehensive view of the refuge.

Eagle Pass Road Trail

Found just off Eagle Pass Road, the easily walkable Eagle Pass Nature Trail is an addition to the Hatteras Village landscape and adventure opportunities. Extending through a stunning marsh landscape and back, this path is an exceptional choice for those wanting to enjoy breathtaking views. This trek is accessible for hikers of all abilities and is a great addition to any Hatteras Village expedition.

It only takes about 20 minutes to complete the loop, making the trail perfect for families with younger children. Don’t let its length fool you; the nature trail presents various ecosystems regularly found on Hatteras Island. Wandering this path is one of the most fun things to do on Hatteras Island! Weave through cedar trees and shrub thickets before coming to an overlook bordering a salty marsh and adjacent pond where birds come to relax. 

Hiking and birding group on a sand beach along the sound with a beautiful view
Lovely view of the sound from the Salvo Day use area white sand beach with sign

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Trail 

After taking in the history of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, make your way across the streets to reach one of the best-tended nature trails on Hatteras Island. Casual picnic tables and visitor parking spaces border the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Trail. The .75-mile loop goes through a crucial part of the local maritime forest. 

As you navigate your way through marshlands and woods, take a moment to read the well-placed National Park Service plaques that highlight fascinating species you might encounter along the way. This exceptional Outer Banks path, traversing the core of the national seashore, provides a picturesque representation of the captivating island environment visitors can anticipate.

Create Your Own Hiking Excursion

While every hiker should try the three trails listed above, there are countless other paths on Hatteras Island. Head to the Salvo Day Use Area and explore the long-deserted network of former camping sites that now make up a popular local jogging trail. Leave your car at the “Old Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station” before going on a soundside trip that uncovers ancient Little Kinnakeet gravesites from the 1800s. There’s clearly no shortage of Outer Banks hiking and nature trails on Hatteras Island.

Embark on a thrilling adventure by planning your own hiking excursion right from the comfort of your Hatteras Island vacation rental home. With Hatteras Island’s unique convergence of multiple ecosystems, the possibilities for exploratory hiking are limitless. Get ready to unleash your curiosity and immerse yourself in the captivating world of Hatteras Island’s hiking trails.