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Cape Hatteras Point Loop

Easy
  3.0 ( 1 ) Favorite

Trail

4.7 mile 7.5 kilometer loop
Easy

Elevation

Ascent: 27' 8 m
Descent: -27' -8 m
High: 10' 3 m
Low: -7' -2 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 0% (0°)
Max Grade: 1% (1°)

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Trail shared by Donovan Fitzgerald

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A 4.7-mile loop that takes you along the beach and around the point of Cape Hatteras.

Donovan Fitzgerald

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

High tides may block access to the point from Ramp 44. Absolutely no hiking on the dunes or areas behind them. Motor vehicles are allowed on some portions of the beach with a purchased pass. No fires or overnight camping allowed unless in the Park Services campground.

Overview

This is a beautiful route around the point of Cape Hatteras. Utilizing beach access ramps, you head out to the point and witness the merging of two ocean currents. After turning past the point, you start working your way back on a protected section of the beach that is abundant with shells and sea birds.

You leave the beach on an old access road that is now closed to vehicles, until you reach what is called the Beach Access Road ("Inside Road") which returns you to the parking lot. They call them roads but they are really 3-4 ruts in the sand depending on the width.

If you visit this area in the winter, as I did, you can have the entire point to yourself. This is a great escape to nature during the right periods!

Need to Know

Portapotty in the parking lot is clean and stocked. Bring in all the water and food you need. Be wary of high tides cutting off access to the point from Ramp 44. Access and departure can still be gained from the other direction on all tides. No hiking on the dunes.

Description

This route begins at the parking lot at the end of Light House Road in Buxton, NC. From the parking lot you proceed down the last 100 yards of the road to Ramp 43. Once on the beach, you'll make a right and continue on to the point. On the left you'll pass Ramp 44 and your last exit point for a while.

The section from Ramp 44 to the point is mostly beach hiking, which is susceptible to high tides and caution should be advised. Note that traveling on the bluffs is strictly prohibited. Once you get to the point, you'll be able to see the amazing dance between the warm Gulf Stream from the south and the Labrador Current from the north. The two currents are constantly changing the sandbars in the area, and provide some of the best fishing around.

During certain seasons, the point can be full of vehicles, but once you round the point heading towards the town of Frisco the beach is closed to motor traffic. I was there during the winter and had the entire area to myself.

Due to the constant turbulence of the ocean in this area, it offers shell hunting like you have never seen before. The large fish population attracts an abundance of coastal birds for viewing. The loop continues as you round the cape and heads towards Ramp 48. The route displayed here does not go all the way to Ramp 48, but instead takes the access road that heads towards the camp ground access to the beach.

This "short cut" is signified by a large tree branch that is covered with Conch Shells. If the branch is gone, then closer to the dunes there are two different PVC pipes erected in the sand that are marked with red tape. This sand road leads you through the dunes (legally) and takes you to the main beach access road.

A left at the fork takes you to Ramp 48 & 49, but a right leads you back to the Ramp 44 access road (and your car). Bear in mind that 4x4's use this sand access road to get to the beaches that allow motor vehicles, so be careful. Once you reach the the intersection for the Ramp 44 access, take a left to return to the parking lot. Enjoy!

Flora & Fauna

Typical eastern coastal Flora & Fauna

History & Background

There are some WWII British veterans buried near the Lighthouse Rd and their resting place is historically marked. Stop by the world famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and climb to the top for the best views around.

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Check-Ins

Jul 27, 2017
Chris McCloud
Did as part of OBX trip July 2017. Beautiful walk.
Jan 30, 2017
Donovan Fitzgerald
The wind was a brisk 46 F, but that provided completely empty beaches to hike on and enjoy the views. The birds didn't seem to mind the company. 4.7mi
Mar 1, 2010
Kaleb Kleiss Hoeft
2mi — 1h 00m

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 1 vote

#1

in Buxton

#3867

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  3.0 from 1 vote
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Featured Hike Rankings

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in Buxton

#137

in North Carolina

#3,867

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Photos

Two major ocean currents meet at the Cape.
Jan 30, 2017 near Buxton, NC
Sun, sand, and surf await you on the Cape Hatteras Loop Trail.
Jan 30, 2017 near Buxton, NC
The views start right at the beginning of the Cape Hatteras Point Loop Trail.
Jan 30, 2017 near Buxton, NC
If you hunt for shells, this is the place!
Jan 30, 2017 near Buxton, NC
The sand can get deep on this road. Look out for 4x4's heading out to do some fishing from the ramps.
Feb 2, 2017 near Buxton, NC
This is the marker on the beach for the "shortcut road". If you're not interested in a shortcut, continue to Ramp 48 for a longer hike.
Jan 30, 2017 near Buxton, NC

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