Wide Open Outer Banks

By Molly Harrison | Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I've discovered I'm not the Outer Banker I thought I was. Over the last 18 years of living in Nags Head and writing about the Outer Banks, I've seen and experienced a lot of the natural world. From stalking wild pigs in Carova to snooping around wildly overgrown house foundations on Portsmouth Island and a whole lot in between, I kind of thought I had seen it all...

But then last weekend (thanks to Outer Banks Team Camps), I discovered a place that was completely new to me: Run Hill in Kill Devil Hills...

I know, I know, all you Run Hill lovers are shaking your heads and wishing I wouldn't spoil your little haven of dunes by blabbing about it in a blog. Sorry. I'd heard of Run Hill, but somehow in all these years I had missed something that was right under my nose and now I'm pumped up about it...

Run Hill is one of the most awesome natural areas on the Outer Banks. It's an active, migrating dune system just like Jockey's Ridge, but it's much smaller - 123 acres instead of 420. And it seems wilder and more mysterious than Jockey's Ridge. It's a "State Natural Area" instead of State Park, so there's no visitor center or amenities and it's less maintained and less advertised, which adds up to far less crowded (we didn't see another soul). Run Hill has all the valleys and ridges you'd expect of a dune system, but then you'll come upon something crazy like a dune cliff that slides down into a freshwater pond, or a soothing vista over tree tops to Buzzard's Bay, or the eerie sight of a giant sand dune swallowing up the trees of Nags Head Woods...

I was blown away and humbled. How could I have not have ever been there before? What else on the Outer Banks haven't I seen?...

Run Hill really got me thinking about and appreciating how lucky we are to have so many wide-open spaces on the Outer Banks, so many clutter-free places to rest our eyes and clear our minds...

People often complain about how overgrown and overdeveloped the Outer Banks has gotten - and, yes, it has grown a lot. I'm sure if I had seen this place 50 years ago, I'd be bitchin' too. But even with all of the progress and pavement, we still have WAY more open space than most people on the East Coast. Wherever you are on the barrier islands, you're never more than five minutes from an opportunity for open space. Instead of focusing on what we don't have anymore, I like to focus on what we do have:

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Buxton Woods, Nags Head Woods, Kitty Hawk Woods, Jockey's Ridge State Park, Run Hill State Natural Area, Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, Currituck NCERR, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, THE BEACH, etc etc etc. For someone who grew up in a city, this amount of wide-open space is something to celebrate, even if little bits of it are being taken away...

It's hard to say which of these areas is my favorite. I love them all for different reasons. And I realize now that I'll probably never see it all. There will always be one more little nook of nature to explore on these barrier islands. There will always be something new for me to discover, and that's why I love it here...

What about you? What's your favorite natural area on the Outer Banks? Leave us a comment below or go to our Facebook wall and comment there...

If you want to find Run Hill, look behind First Flight Elementary and Middle Schools in KDH...

And if you're looking for something to do this weekend, here are a few things:

Running on Run Hill is fun, but running in the Outer Banks Running Club's Sweetheart 8K on Saturday morning is funner. Plus you'll raise money for the Dare County SPCA. The race is at 9 a.m. and there are still spots left if you want to run it...

The Stumpy Point Oyster Roast is on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bayview Chapel in Stumpy Point. Reports are that this oyster roast is a big deal, with people traveling from all over the East Coast to get there. They'll serve steamed oysters, fried fish, hushpuppies, cole slaw, baked beans, potatoes and homemade desserts. Never been to Stumpy Point? Get on U.S. 64 in Manteo and go past Manns Harbor. Turn left onto U.S. 264 and from there it's 14 miles to Stumpy Point, which is a truly salty fishing village full of character in the seeming middle of nowhere. Cost is $25 for adults and $10 for kids. Bring your own oyster knife!...

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Roanoke Island on Saturday. All day long they'll have free programs at Fort Raleigh. Did you know that the Battle of Roanoke Island on Feb. 7 and 8, 1862, was an early Union victory and established a foothold for Union control of northeastern North Carolina? Fort Raleigh has some cool events planned for helping us remember our history. Click here to see the full line up of events...

There are a lot more things going on this week, and they're all listed in our By Day and By Night sections, so go check those out. * And if I were you, I'd go shopping. Many local stores are having big sales right now, cleaning out last year's stuff to make room for new merchandise. See some shopping deals listed here.

Be sure to go to our Facebook Weekly Giveaway page to enter for next week's Giveaway: 2 hot tickets to the Taste of the Beach Grand Tasting on March 18...

Have a great Outer Banks week!!!

 

 

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week you have a chance to Win Two Tickets to The Taste of the Beach Grand Tasting.

The Outer Banks Restaurant Association's grand finale event of Taste of the Beach on Sunday, March 18th. This event is always the hottest ticket in town with over 20 area restaurants along with the best beverage vendors to give you an experience of a lifetime. Taste your way through The Outer Banks in one location! It's how this event began over 25 years ago and it is still the event people rave about.

For more information about The Taste of the Beach check out their Facebook Page & Website.

 

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Linda Feltis!

 

Thank you everyone who registered to Win One Free Night at The Cameron House Inn. Remember to check out The Cameron House Inn Facebook Page & Website.

 

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of OuterBanksThisWeek.com. She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks. When not working she practices and teaches yoga and spends as much time as possible outside and in or on the water with her husband and two children.