Run Hill: A hard-to-find but unforgettable nature preserve in KDH

The view from the top of Run Hill across Buzzard Bay. [Submitted photo]

Of all the nature preserves on the Outer Banks Run Hill is the smallest, least visited and well-known and hardest to find. Kind of a shame too, because it’s a bit of hidden gem.

Or maybe it’s not so bad that it’s hard to find. It’s an extraordinary fragile environment that exists there and if too many people were visiting, it might cause some damage.

The entrance to Run Hill is on 10th Avenue in Kill Devil Hills, which is a very residential area. There are no signs giving directions. The best bet is to use an online map or GPS.  There is no parking lot, just a wide dirt area beside the road.

Run Hill is a massive natural sand dune. It’s about 70’ high and is the northernmost dune of a series of dunes that include Jockey’s Ridge to the south.

Even though it is a sand dune, there is a surprising amount of vegetation that has taken root, and in some instances seems to be thriving. Trumpet vines, with their intensely red flowers, are everywhere.

What Surrounds Run Hill

The dune is bordered to the south and west by Nags Head Woods. The dune forms part of the protective barrier that has allowed the dense forest to take thrive.

From the southern edge of the dune, looking down into Nags Head Woods, some of the hidden fresh ponds of forest can be seen.

Looking north the Wright Brothers Monument dominates the skyline.

Hiking across the dune to the western edge, there is a spectacular vista across Albemarle Sound. The somewhat enclosed body of water at the base of the dune is Buzzard Bay. Aptly named, on warm days, buzzard use the lift provided by Run Hill to soar above the sand.

Run Hill is an undeveloped natural area. There are no marked trails, and nature is left to fend for itself, which makes it a wonderful area to explore.

It’s suitable for anyone in reasonably good shape. It’s a great place to take kids, but keep in mind that hiking on sand is difficult and the elevation gain is 70’ from the parking area.

There is so much to explore on the Outer Banks. Stay with Brindley Beach Vacations for a week or two and discover what life on a sandbar is all about.