Buxton Woods Site Brochure
The 995-acre Buxton Woods component is located on Hatteras Island, one of the barrier islands that form the Outer Banks. The site is bounded on the south by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and on the north by N.C. 12.
The site is housed within the largest tract of maritime forest left standing on the Carolina coast. This area of pine and oak-covered dune ridges is interspersed with maritime swamp forest and unique marshy wetlands.
The seaward edge of the forest is a shrub thicket community dominated by live oak and red cedar. Further inland, the forest consists of a series of dune ridges that are stabilized by a maritime evergreen forest. Between the ridges, broad depressions support seasonally to permanently flooded freshwater marshes, called “sedges.” Cattails, sawgrass, wild rice, and spike rushes are common plants in these ponds. Non-woody plants that are able to tolerate the saturated soils include royal fern, cinnamon fern, lizard’s tail, and water dock. Sea ox-eye and salt meadow hay grow in the areas furthest from the salt water. Buxton Woods serves as an important resting place for migratory birds in the fall. More than 360 species, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons, have been recorded. Common mammals are gray fox, mink, river otter, and white-tailed deer. Reptiles and amphibians include eastern box turtles, green anoles, and southern dusky salamanders. Two rare butterflies (northern hairstreak and giant swallowtail) and a moth (Messalina underwind) are also found in the area.
Visiting the site
From the north, Hatteras Island may be accessed by N.C. 12, which connects with U.S. 64 near Manteo (60 miles to the north). Visitors may also take the public ferry from either Cedar Island in Carteret County or Swan Quarter in Hyde County to Ocracoke Island. From Ocracoke, the Hatteras Inlet ferry serves as a link to N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island. The ferry terminal is located eight miles southwest of the Reserve. The Reserve can be reached via Old Doctor’s Road, Flowers Ridge Road, or Water Association Road, which all run into the forest from N.C. 12. Various walking trails also link the state property with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Extra care should be taken while hiking during hunting season – early September through February. Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve is part of the N.C. Game Lands program, and regulations and details can be found at www.ncwildlife.org. Hunters should review the Buxton Woods Game Land boundaries.