by Judith Bailey on the Hidden Gem of NC Coastal Reserve, Currituck Banks, Corolla NC
Every now and then I get up to Corolla and, over the years, have watched that village change from an oceanside development with guard gate to an upscale community with two grocery stores and a hardware store.
In previous days, I always enjoyed going there to see the wild horses but understood, over the years as the population grew, how horses and houses don't go together and agreed completely with the efforts to drive them north out of harm's way.
Still, I always remember the places where I found them, on the large dune that is now the Food Lion, beside the Currituck Lighthouse that is now a parking lot, or ranging in the grass around the freshwater ponds.
Part of the effort to keep them in the north was building a long fence from sound to ocean.
Beyond this fence is now land owned by the NC Coastal Reserve, called the Currituck Banks.
There is a new boardwalk and also a nature trail open to the public.
Recently, I trekked down both. The boardwalk and trail both lead to the a view of Currituck Sound. There is a terminus at a dock that has a good view of Monkey Island. I'm not sure how it got that name but I do know the history of Currituck Sound.
Once it was the scene of flocks of migratory waterfowl in numbers so great it is hard to imagine. Wealthy sportsmen came and built lodges so that they could enjoy the excellent hunting. Whalehead Club, now restored and a museum, is one of those lodges and is only a short distance from the Reserve. You can do both in just a couple hours. Someone left a pine branch broom at the sign to the nature trail and I have included it to show you a map of the area.
Winter is best time to visit the many woods of the Outer Banks when the bugs are busy sleeping in the leaves. Hunting is still a local pasttime so be aware of that and stay on the marked trail.
Getting there: From Kitty Hawk, NC start driving north on Hwy. 12 through Corolla NC until you can't drive north anymore and you will arrive at the parking lot pictured. The road takes a sharp bend and starts toward the beach. The parking lot is just before the bend.