The Kitty Hawk Woods is located on the Outer Banks, in the center of the village of Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk Woods encompasses a total of 1877.2 acres of maritime deciduous swamp, forest and marsh. The town of Kitty Hawk, with a conservation easement with the state, owns 461.6 acres.
Several inlets created by storms once cut across the Currituck Banks, allowing tidal exchange of salty ocean and fresh sound waters. In 1928 the last of these inlets closed and the salinity in Currituck Sound became fresh brackish water. The resulting estuaries now serve as primary nursery areas for fish. The eastern edge of the forest is located a quarter-mile from the ocean, where a dune system runs parallel to the coast protecting the area from wind shear and salt spray. The forest itself is located on a series of low ridges and swales.
Because of the location of Kitty Hawk Woods a great diversity of wildlife is found. Upland areas support gray fox, raccoon and white-tailed deer. The marsh areas support nutria, muskrat, river otter, and a high density of reptiles and amphibians. The woods are home to warblers, woodpeckers, hawks, wrens and other songbirds. Wood ducks inhabit the deeper swales and herons, egrets, geese, ducks, swans and rails may be found in the marsh. The rare plants found on the reserve are southern twayblade and wooly beach heather. The hop hornbeam, rare on the Outer Banks, is only found in Kitty Hawk and Nags Head Woods.
Getting to the site
The reserve is located in Kitty Hawk. It is bordered by U.S. 158 to the east, Kitty Hawk Road (SR 1208) to the south, Currituck Sound to the west, and U.S. 158 to the north. The forest is bisected in an east-west direction by Woods Road (SR 1206). A multi-use path parallels Woods Road. Parking is located behind the playground on the north end of Woods Road. Public access to the interior of the woods can be found at the end of Eckner Street, Amadas Road and Birch Lane. High Bridge Creek is accessible by boat from the public boat ramp on Bob Perry Road.
Visiting the site
The Kitty Hawk Woods site includes rare and delicate habitats. Visitors are asked to stay on the designated trails. Riders are asked to clean up after their horses. The Reserve is closed to the public after sunset.
The North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve
KH Woods Reserve Management Plan 11.28.98
KH Woods Operating Procedures February 2012