Hiking / Birding / Picnicking / Parking View All
Buxton, Cape Hatteras
Topographical maps are available by contacting:
NC Geographical Survey.
1612 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1612.
Site Manager: N.C. Coastal Reserve
c/o Town of Kitty Hawk
P.O. Box 549
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
Hatteras Island Visitor Center
P.O. Box 190
Buxton, NC 27920
In 1993 and 1994, The Nature Conservancy worked with the N.C. Division of Coastal Management to protect almost half of the forest. The natural area is now managed as part of the N.C. Coastal Reserve system.
At 2,500 acres, Buxton Woods is the largest maritime forest remaining on North Carolina’s barrier islands. Located on the cape of Hatteras Island near the town of Buxton, the forest has an extensive area of relict dunes stabilized by a maritime evergreen forest of mixed hardwoods and pines. The preserve also contains such unique natural communities as maritime swamp forest and maritime shrub swamp, open water interdune ponds, and unique marshy wetlands known as sedges.
The forest’s great natural diversity can be attributed to the sheltering effects of the ancient dunes and the moderating temperatures on the cape. Over a dozen rare plant and animal species occur here, some at the northern end of their range. At least 135 species of birds have been recorded in the woods. Buxton Woods is an important resting area for migratory songbirds and raptors during fall migration. You may spot swallow-tailed kites here in May when they overshoot their South Carolina nesting sites.
Hiking / Birding / Picnicking / Parking
The best way to enter the forest is to drive south of the Hatteras Island Visitor Center to the corner of NC 12 and Open Pond Road near the town of Buxton. Here you can hike on an interpretive loop trail that winds through the forest and goes by a marsh and a section of the Mountains-to-the-Sea trail. Camping is available at a National Park Service campground at Cape Point near Buxton Woods.