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.
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.
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 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.