Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hiking Hatteras Light and the Open Ponds Trail

What a beautiful day for a hike!  It was in the mid 70's, sunny, light winds.  And what a perfect hike venue.  Half of it was on the beach, the other half through verdant maritime forest.  In between was the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, complete with its Lunar companion.

On a day with such variety and visual magnificence, I don't need to write much.  I can let the photos and their captions tell the tale:

First the beach portion, north of Buxton:
Trekking the pristine beach
Wary onlooker - probably a Broad-Winged Hawk
Hatteras light was moved 2900 feet in 1999, viewed from its original foundation
And then the woods walk along the 4.4 mile Open Ponds Trail west of the Lighthouse:

Dwarf Palmetto is a common native in the understory
Live Oak, near the northern end of its range
Open Pond, the trail's namesake
Rugged section of trail through soft sand over steep dunes
The western half mile of trail walks a woods road thru more forest
And finally, passing briefly through Frisco Campground, the westbound Mountains-to-Sea Trail returns to the beach:
Starting on this boardwalk through a last bit of forest ...
... and ending by passing through this deep, narrow gap in the dune.
It was one of those days that just overflowed with memorable experiences.  The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is surely one of the most diverse long-distance trails in the world--surely the most diverse trail contained within a single US State.  Today's diversity was just a small part of the total.  I feel blessed to be out here, and can't wait to show you what's next.


I took many more photos than the ones shown above.  For the full slide show click below:

MST Day 6 - Hatteras light and the Open Ponds Trail at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Virginia


  1. From the photos, it looks like you pretty much had the trail to yourself today. Perfect weather, solitude and beautiful scenery is a fine combination.

  2. Many of these pictures would be worthy of entering the MST contest.

  3. Thank you Jim and Danny. Danny, unfortunately most of these pictures were taken with my low resolution GPS camera, so they don't qualify for the contest. Jim - Actually I ran into quite a few other hikers, runners, dog walkers and horse riders in this section on this beautiful day. On the Open Ponds trail specifically I passed a couple with their dog and later two women riding horses. One of these women told me that in twenty years of frequenting this trail she had never seen so much traffic in one day. It was a perfect day after the long siege of winter weather - at least that's my theory.