Trails

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge offers three trails that are open year-round during daylight hours. The two wildlife trails have several elevated platforms for wildlife viewing. All trails are relatively flat; the North Pond Wildlife Trail is wheelchair-accessible.

North Pond Wildlife Trail

The North Pond Wildlife Trail begins immediately behind the Visitor Center. The trail wanders along the top of the dike between North Pond and New Field Ponds. The trail is one-half-mile long (one-way) and universally accessible. The trail offers excellent opportunities for wildlife observation and photography.  

The trail features a boardwalk over our "turtle pond" (full of freshwater turtles, including sliders and snapping turtles), three observation platforms, and one double decker tower. All of the observation structures have interpretive panels and permanently mounted binocular spotting scopes. From the top of the tower, visitors can see the entire cross-section of the barrier island.

Dogs are not permitted on the North Pond Wildlife Trail.
Trail Length (mi)
0.60
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Estimated Time
45 minutes
Route Type
Out & back
Trail Activities
Birding
Hiking
Photography
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Wheelchair friendly
View Trail

North Pond Levee Trail

This service road on the North Pond levee connects the two wildlife trails, providing additional opportunities for wildlife observation and a longer hike for those interested. The trail has a natural surface, including some thorny vegetation, and may have high insect activity.

In order to return to their starting point, visitors may retrace their steps (6mi total), hike along the beach (4mi total, including 1.5mi on sand), or hike along Highway 12 (4mi total, including 1.5mi alongside busy traffic).

Bikes are allowed on the service road, but not on the wildlife trails. Bikers should stay below the top of the dike on the north and south sides of North Pond.
Trail Length (mi)
2.33
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Estimated Time
2 hours
Route Type
Point to point
Trail Activities
Biking
Birding
Hiking
Photography
Wildlife watching
View Trail

Salt Flats Wildlife Trail

The Salt Flats Wildlife Trail is located at the north end of North Pond. Similar to North Pond Wildlife Trail, this short trail travels along the top of the dike between North Pond and the Salt Flats area. The trail provides excellent opportunities for wildlife observation and photography, as different birds may be seen in the salt marshes to the north and the freshwater impoundment to the south.

A diversity of bird species can often be seen from this trail, including herons, ducks and geese, and shorebirds, making it one of the best birding spots on the refuge. The trail terminates in a raised observation platform, providing an excellent vantage point over the north end of North Pond.
Trail Length (mi)
0.12
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Estimated Time
10 minutes
Route Type
Out & back
Trail Activities
Birding
Hiking
Photography
Wildlife watching
View Trail