Home‎ > ‎Locations‎ > ‎North Carolina‎ > ‎Outer Banks‎ > ‎

Currituck Banks Reserve

Wetlands by the Overlook
Currituck Banks Reserve is a 965-acre protected area just north of Corolla in the northern Outer Banks in Currituck County.  The reserve is part of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve, a network of ten undistrubed coastal areas protected for research and conservation purposes.  It is managed by NC Division of Coastal Management in partnership with the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.  The site was purchased by the state in 1984 in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy.  The reserve is open to the public and provides two walking trails for visitors to learn more about the unique ecosystems protected in this area.

The reserve is located along a barrier spit, that extends seventy miles from Virginia Beach in the north to Oregon Inlet in the south.  The 965-acre reserve includes 721 acres of estuary and 244 acres of upland habitat.  It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Currituck Sound to the west.  Currituck Sound is estuary that has historically switched between mostly freshwater and mostly saltwater, depending on the presence of ocean inlets bringing in more saltwater from the ocean.  Currently, the sound is mostly freshwater since the last inlet in Currituck Banks closed in 1828.  The closest inlet, Oregon Inlet, is more than 60 miles away.  As such, the sound has become mostly freshwater and water levels are more affected by wind than lunar tides.

Contact Information:

There are no facilities in the Currituck Banks Reserve.  For more information, contact the Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve office:

983 West Kitty Hawk Road
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

(252) 261-8891


Currituck Banks Reserve is just north of Corolla in Currituck County.  Follow NC-12 past Corolla and there will be a small parking lot right as the road makes a sharp right-hand curve.  The parking lot provides access to the trails in the southern part of the reserve.  The northern part of the reserve can only be accessed by four-wheel drive vehicles along the beach corridor past where NC-12 terminates.  The reserve can also be reached by boat from the Currituck Sound, although there are no boat ramps or docks within the reserve.



The best way to experience the unique coastal ecosystems in the reserve is taking a walk along the short trails through the reserve.  Although both trails are short, visitors will travel through diverse ecosystems, including martime forest, wetlands, and the estuarine environment of Currituck Sound.

Boardwalk Trail:

Length: 0.3 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Easy

The Boardwalk Trail runs from the parking lot a viewing platform on the Currituck Sound.  Along the way, the elevated boardwalk passes over swamps and wetlands and through a rare maritime forest.  There are interpretive signs along the trail so visitors can learn more about the many unique ecosystems in the reserve.

Boardwalk Trail

Currituck Banks Maritime Forest Trail:

Length: 0.75 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Blue

The primitive trail leads north from the about the middle of the Boardwalk Trail to the sound.

Live Oak along Maritime Forest Trail



Currituck Banks Reserve

External Links:

NC Coastal Reserve website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/crp/currituck-banks