Kayaking Outer Banks-All Season Beauty

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Enjoying a Currituck Sound sunset by kayak.

The northeast wind off the ocean is a chilly reminder that winter is coming. Out on the sounds, the duck, geese and swans are carpeting the water, migrating to the bays and estuaries in a cycle of life that as constant as the change of the seasons.

Yet even this time of the year, as the days get shorter and the the Outer Banks goes back to its small town roots, there are still some great opportunities to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.

One of the best ways to explore the natural world of the Outer Banks is by kayak, and the fall and winter are great times to get on the water. There are a number of reasons for that.

Wind is the bane of many kayakers existence, and yes there usually a northeast wind at this time of the year, but the waters of Outer Banks sounds are to the west and are well-protected from the wind.

Because there are so few visitors at this time of the year, renting kayaks at almost any time should not be a problem.

Bugs are the great irritant of summer kayaking—yes, bug repellant does work, but it is nice to be on the water without a swarm of insects overhead.

Guided tours are still offered at this time of the year, but availability is very restricted so be sure to call ahead if plans include a guided tour. But for more experienced kayakers, the offseason is a golden opportunity to get on the water.

We’re including a list of kayak put-in sites with a couple of notes about some of the sites. We may have missed a few sites, but this is a good starting point.

Corolla

Whalehead Club

Offers a wonderful and different view of the storied art nouveau mansion. Paddling north leads to classic estuarine waters.

Duck

Duck town boardwalk

There are a number of docks designed for easy kayak access.

Southern Shores

No public put-in. However, civic associations maintain docks and parks along the Currituck Sound.

Kitty Hawk

Dock of the Bay, Bob Perry Rd.

A great access point to Kitty Hawk Bay and Albemarle Sound. Located on a wide creek. Great fishing too.

Sandy Run Park, The Woods Road

Beautiful setting. A little difficult to get out of the pond.

Kill Devil Hills

Dock Street boat ramp Between W. Durham and Avalon Dr.,

Access immediately to the sound.

Second Bridge leading to Colington, Colington Road

Protected area leading to wide expanse of Kitty Hawk Bay.

Nags Head

Jockey’s Ridge State Park/Soundside Road

A little more remote and harder to find, but interesting paddle.

Oregon Inlet Fishing Center

Almost at the foot of Bonner Bridge

Manteo

Bridge leading to Roanoke Island Festival Park

Very protected setting. A great paddle around Ice Plant Island that is the home of Roanoke Island Festival Park.

Washington Baum Bridge Boat Ramp

Across from Pirate’s Cove entrance. Maintained by NC Fish & Wildlife

Hatteras Island

New Inlet

Nature abounds. A real favorite. Part of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Mainland

Milltail Creek, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

One of the most popular kayak paddles around and for good reason. Beautiful and relatively protected.

Most NC Fish & Wildlife ramps have provisions for kayaks.

Mustang Music the Place to Be

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One of the best festivals anywhere has got to be the Mustang Music Festival coming up next weekend, Friday and Saturday October 10 and 11.

The brainchild of Mike Dianna, owner of Mike Dianna’s Grill room, the festival started four years ago as a benefit concert for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. It’s still a benefit concert, but Mike also contributes now to the Mustang Music Outreach that helps young musicians learn how to perform.

Held at the Whalehead Club in Corolla, it is a fantastic setting for an outdoor concert–about as good as it gets–and with three stages, there is always music happening. And with food vendors, artisans and a great crowd, there is always something to do.

One of the best features of any event that Mike promotes is how kid friendly it is, and Kitty Hawk Kites will be there with our KidsZone to make sure everyone has a great time.

Yet as good as the setting is, and there’s no denying it’s great for families, the Mustang Music Festival is all about the music, and the music rocks?

Back this year, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band with their funky New Orleans sound. They rocked everyone two years ago and there’s no reason to think they haven’t gotten even better.

With 18 bands ready to take the stage, there is bound to be something for everyone. It’s hard to pick out a headliner in this group but it would probably have to be Rusted Root on Friday night and Keller Williams & More Than a Little on Saturday.

It’s looking more and more as though Hurricane Joaquin is going to pass us by and the long-range forecast for next weekend is looking perfect—temperatures in the mid 70s and sunshine.

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The Other Side of the Outer Banks

Entrance to the Ridge Trail, Kitty Hawk Woods.

Entrance to the Ridge Trail, Kitty Hawk Woods.

Generally speaking when people think about the Outer Banks they think of beautiful beaches and  a warm and inviting ocean—which is great because that’s why almost everyone comes for a visit.

But there is much more to the Outer Banks; in fact, at one time almost the entire sound side was heavily forested. There are still some amazing examples of those forested shores left and for anyone looking for a hidden story of the Outer Banks, they are worth exploring.

There are four protected wooded areas. We’ll list them going from north to south.

Currituck Banks Reserve

Probably the least known of the Outer Banks woods, to find Currituck Banks Reserve head north from the Whalehead Club until a 90 degree bend to the right in the road. There is a small parking lot there that is the trail head.

Two ways to expore this. There is a short boardwalk through the maritime forest that leads to the sound. It’s a very easy walk–actually handicap accessible—and it ends at a small platform built over a narrow channel coming in from Currituck Sound. It is at the perfect balance point at the end of a towering forest of pines and the waving grasses of a fresh water estuary.

There is a trail leading off the boardwalk. Look for the steps leading to the forest floor. This is more challenging than the boardwalk, but completely suitable for ages 10 and older. Follow the blue blazons to the sound.

Kitty Hawk Woods

Kitty Hawk Woods, is the largest reserve on the Outer Banks. Bisected by the Woods Road, a paved  a multi-use trail parallels the road for it’s entire length. The multi-use path is a great introduction to the beauty of a maritime forest and the path is perfect for a family bike ride or a morning stroll.

There is also an amazing trail system that takes hikers through upland forests into swampy wetlands. Bikes are allowed on the Kitty Hawk Woods trails. Suitable for any moderately experienced mountain biker, it’s a unique experience on the Outer Banks.

The offices are located at 4352 The Woods Rd in Kitty Hawk. Trail maps are available online or at the office. Call first to make sure someone is there. (252) 548-6102

Nags Head Woods

Administered by the Nature Conservancy, Nags Head Woods is 1100 acres of steep hills, wetlands and dense forest. The hills are actually sand dunes that have become covered in a more dense soil–a soil that is fertile enough to allow hardwood trees to grow, and a hike along the trails has a distinctly upland or mountain feel to it. The elevation gain is abrupt, the trails run along ridges that drop into deep ravines and hardwood trees are the dominant forestation along the ridge lines.

There is a parking lot with a small visitor’s center. To get to the visitor’s center, turn on to Ocean Acres at the light at Pigman’s Barbecue. Follow the road to the visitor’s center on the left at the bottom of a hill.

Buxton Woods, Old Doctors Road.

Buxton Woods, Old Doctors Road.

Buxton Woods

Thriving at the confluence of subtropical and temperate weather zones, Buxton Woods is one of the most distinctive maritime forests in the world. Palmetto plants thrive at the base of towering pine trees; the swamps, marsh and trails are teeming with life.

Sprawling at the base of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the 1000 acre site is on the Atlantic Ocean side of NC12. Three access points— Old Doctor’s Road, Flowers Ridge Road, or Water Association Road. All are dirt roads. There are also trails linking the site to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.


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