Cedar Point Campground in Croatan National Forest

Tideland Trail. Cedar Point Recreation Area. Croatan National Forest

I have been dying to go camping again. I love camping! I can’t get enough of it! We used to tent camp a lot, but I really hate sleeping on cold ground in the winter…so we didn’t go as often…and eventually got into the habit of not going at all. Then, this past christmas, my awesome dad let us borrow his pop-up camper. He doesn’t use it much, so he’ll probably never ask for it back. (I hope) Our first trip in the pop-up we took it to Myrtle Beach State Park in South Carolina. Wow. That is a nice campground! But back to Cedar Point…. We decided to take a Monday off and do a little exploring the last week. It was almost 80 out and we just couldn’t stand the thought of being inside doing work. Oh good lord who wants to do that?! So, we headed towards the beach and stopped and checkout some kayak landings…and then we passed a National Forest area that said it had camping! I got all excited and said…LETS STOP THERE!! I wanna check that out! Cedar Point is not huge. However, they do have quite a few(40!) campsites with electricity, bathrooms and cold showers. A LOT More than most National Forest Campgrounds…It is open year round with a boat ramp, a couple of trails including a tideland trail that is interpretive, and a small dock you may fish off of. Did I mention the campsites are $17.00 with electricity and $12.00 without?!? oh yeah, and you can book online through reserve america. bam.

Cedar Point Tideland Trail

This 1.4 mile hike features wonderful views of the salt water marshes and coastal forest. There are several boardwalks that take you through the marshes where salt water meets freshwater. You can also kayak this trail. All boardwalks are high enough for you to paddle under. I know this because I paddled it! You can see lots of birds on this trail. I also walked the trail with Brian. We spotted a bunch of tufted titmouse  red Breasted Nuthatches, Chickadees, Red Breasted Woodpeckers, Yellow Rumped Warblers, White Egrets, Blue Herons, and Belted King Fishers. Also, while I was kayaking, and not able to pull my camera out as fast as I’d hoped I saw – for the first time mind you! – a Red Headed Woodpecker!!!! I chased that little bird with my kayak as much as I could to catch up and get a shot. Oh well, better luck next time!

Tufted Titmouse

Blue Heron. Cedar Point Kayak Trail.

Belted Kingfisher

Mud Fiddler

Blue Heron in a Loblolly Pine

Red Breasted Nuthatch… with a baby!!

Anole in a Cedar Tree

Oh, and one of the most awesome parts of this trip, besides having a campfire, sleeping in a pop-up camper, making chicken marsala in one pan and making pancakes, turkey sausage and eggs in one pan as well— KAYAKING! hahaha!!! oh my, I have found my new favorite thing to do. Every time the weather is 60+ I feel like I have to be out on the water paddling. My dad got me a perception swifty 9.5 for christmas. Perception kayaks are extremely stable and move along the water pretty well.

Yaking Cedar Poing kayak trail!

Also, The Beach is not far at all. I’d say about a 10 minute drive over the Intracoastal Waterway/Bouge Sound. There are two public beach access areas near the Point on Emerald Isle — which is my favorite. YOU CAN DRIVE YOUR 4×4 VEHICLE  ON THE BEACH HERE!! WHAT!? yes. from September to April you can drive your dang 4×4 out there on the beach! I also love all of the shells that wash up here. Tons of Sand Dollars. You can view Hammocks Beach State Park from the Point as well. I’m looking forward to buying the pass to drive on the beach so I can launch my kayak there at the point and paddle over to Hammocks Beach State Park Island.

Broken Sand Dollar on the shoreline

“Come walk with me along the sea where dusks sits on the land, and search with me, for shells are free and treasures hide in the sand”

Sunset at the Point. Emerald Isle.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Alligator River NWR is absolutely beautiful. They have paddling trails, wildlife drive trails, and nature trails, where you might be fortunate enough to see black bears, alligators, or even red wolves! We’ve been here before…We just wanted to come down again to explore all of the driving trails on 154,000 acres! We did a little “four wheeling” on some of the more muddy and over grown trails. It was a beautiful sunny day!

Brian's muddy TJ from wildlife trails

We were really hoping to see alligators, but it was cold. My dad had visited Alligator River a couple weeks earlier and he told me he saw one… so I know they are here, but I’m sure we won’t see any till this summer. I also wanted t0 see SNOW GEESE! Brian and I over heard a man talking about seeing them here when we were at Pea Island NWR. Unfortunately we didn’t see any.  We saw lots of Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails, and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Most of them where too far away to photograph.

Lone Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan Family :)

The winter has been really cold this year! Today, it was a little warm and in the upper 50’s. All of the Tree Swallows were going nuts over all the little gnats hovering in the sunshine. I managed to capture a couple of neat shots.

Tree Swallow hovering over water

Tree Swallow swooping in for a gnat snack

While driving on the wildlife trails.  We saw lots and lots of red-tailed hawks. One flew directly over top of the jeep.

Red Tailed Hawk scanning for food

And while I was taking pictures of the Red-tailed, a tree swallow landed right in front of our jeep, and wouldn’t move!

Stubborn Tree Swallow

We enjoyed our sunny day at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I can’t wait to visit in the spring and summer and maybe I’ll get to see some gators or even a Red Wolf! till then…

Kestrel

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge & Hatteras Seashore, NC

We love going down to Hatteras. It’s only about a two hour drive.  A beautiful place to visit – even in the off-season! We have such a blast seeing all the birds and four-wheelin’ on the beach!  The weather was a bit cloudy and very windy with a few stray showers… Pretty much normal for this time of year. The sun did peek out a few times, which was so nice! We visited Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Hatteras National Seashore on Saturday and Sunday and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on our way home Sunday. We decided to take a different route in hopes of seeing a bear or an alligator! We didn’t see either this time. DARN IT!

Very Angry Atlantic Ocean

Saturday was a windy overcast day. We stopped at Pea Island to check the birds. We knew we weren’t going to stay long the first day because it was just way too windy, too cold and too cloudy! I managed to snag a few pictures of birds I’ve never photographed before!

Green-winged Teals

Northern Pintail

I also saw a White Ibis! I was so excited! I had never seen one before!

White Ibis coming in for landing

AND American Avocets!

Our first day  on the National Seashore we wanted to go on the Ocracoke Ferry. We were five minutes late catching the four o’clock ferry. The voyage is about an hour and it would have been dark by the time we got back….we really needed to get a hotel. The ferry is right across the street from the Southern most beach access on the National Seashore so we went four-wheeling.

Sea of Seagulls

Once we got to the “tip” of Hatteras Island, there was about 50,000 seagulls…All different kinds! It was a sight! We also spotted three White tails playing in the dunes

White Tailed Deer Checking The Area

Dunlin and tattered sand bag

As always there were several fisherman on the “tip” It’s so neat to watch them tackle the huge waves and have a good ol’ time casting out, praying for that record breaker catch! But this day there was a beggar… going from truck to truck to see what he could get thrown to him.

Beach Beggar

Handsome Brown Pelican ready for take off!

We got out of the jeep for a bit and looked for sand dollars, Whelk shells, and Moon snails. While walking, we spotted a oystercatcher. I just love their bright beaks and they are really interesting to watch in action! I also snapped a quick shot of the Hatteras light.

American Oystercatcher
Hatteras Lighthouse

We stayed in an amazing hotel Called “Breakwater Inn” I’m not into hotels that have too much. But this hotel was just right. We had an amazing view of the sound and the sunset…. Also a restaurant, a grocery store less than 30 seconds up the road and it was very clean!! Great Prices and Great off-season rates!

The next morning when we woke up we decided to do some more four-wheeling on the beach and slowly make our way to back to Pea Island so I could catch the birds while the sun was out. Another storm was on the way…Once we made it to Pea Island, there must have been 30,000 or more Tundra Swans. They were literally everywhere!!

Tundra Swans Preening

I saw more Ibis. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to see these little guys… I didn’t realize they were up this way!

L to R: Blue Heron, Great Egret, & Two Ibis (one’s on a nest!)

We saw Tons of coots, Northern Shovelers, and Black Ducks. It was fun watching the coots play! While walking the trail we caught some Ruddy Ducks catching a light snooze ;)

Ruddy Ducks Sleeping

I have never seen a Tricolored Heron. Nor did I ever expect I would see one. Anyways, I happened to be looking for Black Stilts and I spotted this guy! Score!

Tricolored Heron

We took a different route home, and headed towards Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a really neat place for birders as well. Except this is a drive through refuge, rather than trail only. We saw tons of Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, and lots of tree swallows. I love this place, and can’t wait till the season starts so I can explore it deeper. We only skimmed the park a little, because we were on our way home and didn’t want to get home too late. We had an amazing Weekend as always! Support your local National Wildlife Refuges and National/State Parks by visiting OFTEN!! They need you!

Greater Yellowlegs

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Visit the NPS website for Cape Hatteras

White Tail Deer
Sanderlings
Clearnose Skate
American Oystercatchers
Tundra Swans
Boat-Tailed Grackles
Juvenile Willet
Cannonball Jellyfish

Camping In The Outerbanks, North Carolina

The original plan we had in mind, was camping in Manteo, North Carolina. We chose (what we thought) was a neat campground right outside of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The campground, called “County Line” in East Lake, North Carolina, has no website, or reviews but I figured it was probably a neat campground. It was described online “primitive campsites, freshwater pond/lake, electrical hookups” I also called the owner to ask how her campsites were, She told me that you can camp in the woods, and you’re near a lake – there’s wide open space and plenty of room to pitch a tent, also she said there are paddle boats and all kinds of fun things to do. So we packed our gear and headed south. Manteo is a really neat town. I hear of a really awesome aquarium and there are lots of old marinas in Wancheese, which is just south of Manteo, Probably a really great place to get fresh seafood and a few old fisherman tales. After driving two and a half hours, we start to pass driving trails of Alligator River Refuge, I just can’t wait to go and check them out! Well, we get to the campground and it looks like its someone’s back yard…but most campgrounds that are private are usually their “backyard” so we get out and read the sign, it tells us to put money in a mailbox and go find an area and leave enough space for a car to get by. We decide to take a loop around to check this place out. We passed one camper at the back of the “pond” and that was pretty much the only site. If you had a one or two man tent, you could probably set up around the water, or maybe back towards the bushes but there was definitely not enough space for our 16×16 tent, let alone our camping trailer and the jeep! So we hopped back online and tried to find another campground because that place was a joke! Too bad there aren’t any more campgrounds in the Manteo area that aren’t RV camping resorts, because it is a really beautiful area.
After searching the net for a bit under Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge we decided that we would head North a bit and check out two other campgrounds, Joe and Kay’s Campground being the first. It’s located on the sound, just behind the Wright Brothers National Memorial. This was more like a permanent camper/trailer campground. There were a few tent campsites on the water, near the boat ramp…It was nice, but we wanted something a little more private. The campsites were decent size, but no privacy what so ever. It was starting to get dark, so we definitely needed to find something soon. We just bought this new tent and needed to make sure we could put it up. We had one more campground in mind and were hoping to god this one would be a little better than the others that we had visited. The campground was called Adventure Bound! Sounds fun right? Wrong. It was a big open field behind a hostel/apartment complex. There were a few sites in the woods, but you couldn’t park your vehicle near your site. We decided we would make the best of it and just camp there for the night since there were only two other campsites taken up and they were in the back, under the trees behind the bathhouse by the peacock cage, yes I said peacock. The bathhouses were clean and had warm showers; each campsite had a grill and a picnic table. We set our tent up facing the trees in the field near the Jeep and not to far from the community campfire. It was going well, we set our new tent up in less than ten minutes, started dinner and a nice campfire. We talked to a guy who was camping with friends. They were on a bike trip from Boston, Mass. to the Florida Keys playing shows. They have a band named Attica! Attica! We chatted for a bit, then headed back to his camp. We had the “campground” to ourselves – it was great! Then, a boy scout troop came in, they set up all their tents and we no longer had the campground to ourselves. The next morning the boy scouts were up at the crack of dawn and we decided we were leaving to go to another campground, this time to one we had been to before. Frisco Woods Campground! Frisco Woods is on Hatteras Island on Highway 12. They have electric water sites, primitive sites, and one & two bedroom cabins. We got a site that was near the sound and near the bathhouse, that day is was 90 out and the skeeters were so bad! as the day progressed we set up camp and relaxed. We noticed some clouds rolling in and realized that it would rain. We weren’t sure how the tent would hold up in the rain and didn’t know how hard it was going to rain…we decided to call the office up and see how much it would cost us to upgrade to a cabin. We ended up taking down the tent and packing into a cabin. It didn’t rain very hard, and we probably would have been fine in a tent. It was windy but we managed to still make a fire. We met some neat chicks staying in a cabin next to us. They were sisters and were very nice! We absolutely love Frisco Woods. I would highly recommend staying in this campground if you ever have to camp in the outer banks. Most campgrounds in that area are wide open, no privacy and mostly RV sites. This one is wooded and has nice bathhouses, a pool, camp store, and a beautiful sound. A lot of times there are people wind surfing or kite surfing. It’s fun to watch.

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