Theodore Roosevelt State Nature Area, Pine Knoll Shores, NC

Surrounding the NC State Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is the Theodore Roosevelt State Nature Area. Donated to North Carolina by his grandchildren, the preserve stands as a memorial to the 26th President of the United States. Teddy Roosevelt was well known for his conservation efforts making this reserve a suitable namesake for this outdoorsman and politician.

The Preserve

Located in Carteret County on Bogue Banks the preserve occupies 265 acres. Maintained by a joint effort between the aquarium and Fort Mack State Park, the preserve includes dense, mature maritime forest, sound side and interior marshlands. Trees found in the natural area include Live and Laurel oak, Red Cedar and Loblolly Pine. Other plant life includes Cabbage Palmetto, Wax Myrtle and American Olive among others. Look for Cord grass, Needle rush, Salt grass, and Eel grass in the salt and brackish marshes.

A well know location with bird watchers a number of songbirds as well as herons and egrets can be observed in the reserve. Watch for a variety of warblers, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tricolored and Great Blue Herons as well as other shore and wading birds. Raccoons, Possums and Gray Squirrels also call this woodland home.

Hiking Trails

While much of the preserve is not accessible, there are two hiking trails available for exploration. The Alice Hoffman Nature Trail, the shorter of the two, is accessed from inside the aquarium. Admission is required to enter the facility. The trail starts from the Coastal Plains Gallery boardwalk. This short, easy trail leads to a photo and viewing blind on East pond, and crosses through the marsh environment.

The Theodore Roosevelt Nature Trail, in contrast, does not require admission to the aquarium and is free for all to explore. Starting at the west end of the parking lot, this somewhat more challenging trail leads over dune ridges and through the maritime forest. At 1.5 miles in length it passes buy the sound and marsh areas. The out and back path ends in front of a tidal flats area that can provide excellent bird watching opportunities.

The Photography

The Roosevelt Nature Area is an excellent place for nature lovers and bird watchers to explore. Not too surprisingly it also offers some wonderful nature photography opportunities. Below are a few of my images from recent visit to this fascinating natural area. Have you visited this preserve? Let me know below in the comments section.

The trunk and limbs of this sturdy oak tree creates an interesting, natural framinf of the sound side marsh along the Rossevelt Nature Trail in Pine Knool ?shores, North Carolina. The trail, one and one-half miles long, begins at the west end of the parking lot for the NC State Aquarium. The path crosses over dune ridges as it winds through one of the few remaining maritime forests on Bogue Banks. The hike ends overlooking a tidal mudflat where wading birds can frequently be observed as they search for a meal.
Here is a Tricolored Heron, Egretta tricolor, in breeding plumage. This scene was made at the end of the Roosevelt Nature Trail, next to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Part of the Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area, The trail is about 1.5 miles in length. It passes through a maritime forest area, crossing several dune ridges. The path dead ends infront of a tidal flats area where wading birds are frequently seen feeding. there is a second trail. the Alice Hofffman trail, that requires admission into the aquarium for access. This trail, a 1/2 mile in length, begins on a boardwalk outsdie the rear of the aquarium and passes over a pond and past marsh areas.
A view of the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Trail at Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina. This one and one-half mile hike leads across dune ridges, past salt marshes and tidal flats as it meanders through a mature section of maritime forest. One of two trails found in the Theodore Roosevelt State Nature Area, part of the NC State Park system. This nature preserve protects one of the few remaining natural forest areas on the island of Bogue Banks along the Crystal Coast. The other remaining naritime forest areas can be found along the Hoop Pole Creek trail and Fort Mack State Park, both located in Atlantic Beach, NC.
The monring light creates a silhouette of a lovely Tricolored Heron fishing on a tidal flat in the Theodore Rossevelt State Nature Area at Pine Knoll Shores, North Carollna. Located on Bogue Banks, a barrier island, the preserve includes salt marshes, tidal flats and maritime forest. A memorial to the 26th President of the United States, the property was donated to the state by his grandchildren. This nature preserve surrounds the NC State Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

This entry was posted in Avian Photography, Education, General Photography, Hiking Trail, Landscape Photography, Natural History in the Carolinas, Nature Photography, Uncategorized.


  1. Steve Heap April 10, 2022 at 7:10 am #

    Lovely images of the birds! You seem to have quite a number of interesting nature reserves reasonably close by! One day I’ll visit them!

  2. Alexios Ntounas April 10, 2022 at 11:33 am #

    Thanks for sharing all this information about Roosevelt Nature Area! It sounds a great place to visit! Wonderful images as well!

  3. Katrina April 14, 2022 at 12:24 pm #

    I really like that photo of the tricolor heron preening – it has an almost intimate feel to it.

  4. Deb Beausoleil April 17, 2022 at 4:24 pm #

    Wonderful photographs, Bob! My favorite is the silhouetted Tricolored Heron. I love how you can see his reflection in the rippled water, too. You live in a wonderful area of the country and I hope to be able to visit some of these areas some day.

  5. Louis Dallara April 24, 2022 at 8:43 am #

    Thanks for sharing all this information about Roosevelt Nature Area!

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