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Exploring the Atlantic Wild Horse Trail with Bonnie Gruenberg

 Local Activities

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Harkers Island Visitor Center

Headquarters, 131 Charles St.,

Harkers Island NC

 (252) 728-2250

Visitors Center open daily from 9am to 5:00 pm

Light Station Visitors Center located on Core Banks open from April to November, 9 am to 5 pm.

Cabin rentals available on Core Banks from March through December.

Cape Lookout National Seashore comprises about 28,500 acres of  unspoiled coastal barrier islands. The seashore is 56-miles in length, and includes North Core Banks (Portsmouth Island), Middle Core Banks; South Core Banks (including Cape Lookout); and Shackleford Banks. Access is by boat charter. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is open for climbing on designated days May through September.

Wild horses can be easily found on Shackleford Banks, a ribbon of sand 9 miles long but only a mile wide.


Rachel Carson Component of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve

135 Duke Marine Lab Rd.,

Beaufort NC

(252) 728-2170

The waters of the Rachel Carson Estuary are idyllic for kayaking, bird watching, and nature photography. If you are short on time and want to see wild horses, look for them on Carrot Island, which is an easy 5 minute boat ride from the Beaufort waterfront. The horses are usually easy to find. A half-mile self-interpretive nature trail is marked with numbered posts, winding through the estuary and crossing mudflats, pine woods, sandy meadows, and salt marshes. Wildlife native to Carrot include loggerhead sea turtles, river otters, gray fox, raccoons and marsh rabbits.

 Sand Dollar Island is a small sandbar about the size of a football field that emerges at low tide, famous among shell collectors for its abundance of sand dollars.

Core Sound  Waterfowl Museum ad Heritage Center

1785 Island Road

P.O. Box 556

Harkers Island, NC 28531

Telephone: 252-728-1500

  Fax: 252-728-1742

Mon - Sat 10 - 5,

Sun 2 -5

Experience Down East through exhibits and traditional cultural gatherings. In December, Waterfowl Weekend features music, storytelling, boat building, decoy carving, artwork, and local seafood. A number of educational programs are geared to students of all ages.  

Beaufort Historic Site

100 Block of Turner St,

 Beaufort , NC

(252) 728-5225, (800) 575-SITE

Beaufort Historic Site, managed by the  Beaufort Historical Association, hosts nearly 60,000 visitors annually to the heritage tourism site. Attractions include tours of restored buildings from the 1700’s, classes, workshops, special events and historical re-enactments.

Old Burying Ground

Ann Street

Beaufort, NC 28516

PDF brochure and map at

The Old Burying Ground holds the graves of many of Beaufort’s early residents, ancestors of many of the locals that inhabit the town today. A map of the gravesites and guided tours are available through the Beaufort Historical Association.

North Carolina Maritime Museum

315 Front St.,

Beaufort, NC

(252) 728-7317

A wealth of  educational exhibits, programs and field trips with a focus on North Carolina's maritime history and coastal natural history. Watch the boat builders at work and see artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s ill-fated vessel which sank in Beaufort Harbor.

Fort Macon State Park

 N.C. Hwy. 58 N, Atlantic Beach

(252) 726-3775

Fort Macon is a NC State Park and Museum is a restored Civil War fort first garrisoned in 1834 that was in use episodically until  the end of WWII. General Robert E. Lee was stationed there as a young officer and influenced the design of the fort. The visitor's center runs a twenty minute orientation film in the auditorium every 30 minutes, and exhibits period artifacts and uniforms. The history is often brought to life through reenactments and demonstrations such as musket firing.  

The volunteer tour guides are well versed about the fort and its history. Recorded narrations describe the Commandant’s Quarters, the WWII barracks enlisted men’s barracks and mess hall, and the gunpowder magazine at the touch of a button. The site also includes a nature trail and a large sand beach- but swimming is prohibited due to the dangerous currents.

Theodore Roosevelt Natural Area

MP 7, Roosevelt Dr,

Pine Knoll Shores, NC

(252) 726-3775

300 acres of maritime forests and freshwater ponds, donated to the state by the family of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Adjacent to the aquarium..

Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge

879 Lola Rd.,

Cedar Island, NC

(252) 225-2511 (252) 926-4021

This wildlife refuge on the southern end of Cedar Island consists of approximately 11,000 acres of irregularly-flooded, brackish marsh and 3,480 acres of pocosin and woodland habitat. The refuge offers opportunities for hiking, bird-watching, launching boats, wild horse watching, picnicking, and duck hunting.


Outer Banks Riding Stables

On route 12 by the Cedar Island Ferry Dock

P.O. Box 536

Cedar Island, NC, 28520

(252)225-1185 or (252)225-1885

 Calico Jack's Ferry

1698 Island Road

Harkers Island, NC


Calico Jack's Ferry departs from the Cape Lookout Ferry Terminal on Harkers Island, NC . The ferry services the Cape Lookout Lighthouse near the southern tip of Core Banks, and the East end of Shackleford Banks. The ferry boats are seventeen passenger vessels, and are used to transport passengers and their personal effects to the barrier islands. Reservations are only required during winter months, or for large groups. Baggage and camping/fishing gear may be carried on the ferry. However, passengers are responsible for care and transport of their own baggage, gear and personal belongings.

Local Yokel Ferry and Tours

516 Island Rd.,

Harkers Island, NC

(252) 728-2759

This  ferry service that offers passengers a full view of Shackleford on the way to the dropoff point at Cape Lookout. Ferries start at 9 AM and run hourly through the summer. You can stay an hour, all day, or camp overnight.  


Beaufort Waterfront

PO Box 497

Beaufort, NC 28516

(252) 772-9925

This company offers a variety of tours including the historic Beaufort Ghost Walk, ecology and sunset sailing, kayak tours and boat tours to Carrot Island and Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Reservations required.

Sailboat tours on the Good Fortune

Beaufort Town Docks,

Front St., Beaufort

(252) 247-3860, (252) 241-6866 cell

Guided coastal tours and led by a marine biologist aboard the 42-foot custom-built sailboat “Good Fortune“. Boat accommodates six people for full-day and two-hour tours, educational trips, group and corporate charters, ecology outings, turtle, dolphin, and wild-horse watching, snorkeling, sunset sailing, birding, shelling and kayaking.

Lookout Cruises

Beaufort Waterfront

600 Front Street,

Beaufort, NC

(252) 504-SAIL

Tours aboard a 45-foot catamaran for up to  42 passengers, April 1 through November 30. Two-hour dolphin watch, six-hour trip to Cape Lookout with catered lunch, snacks, fresh fruit, shell bags and complimentary beverages. 90-minute sunset cruise. Reservations recommended.

Crystal Coast Air Tours

150 Airport Rd.,

Beaufort , NC

(252) 728-2323

Operating out of the Michael J. Smith Airport in Beaufort.  Several tours offered, rates include seating for up to 3 passengers. Reservations required, open year-round.

 Cedar Island Ferry

3619 Cedar Island Rd

Cedar Island, NC 28520

Terminal 252-225-7411

NC DOT Ferry Division 1-800-BY-Ferry

From Beaufort to the Cedar Island ferry dock is a 38 mile drive over twisty two-lane roads - allow about an hour to get there. The auto ferry voyage to Ocracoke takes 2.25 hours. Rest rooms and an air conditioned lounge area with vending machines are available to passengers. Ferry reservations are highly recommended. Dirvers without reservations can park in the stand-by lane and wait for a vacancy. Check in at least a half hour before your departure time, or your reservation will be given to someone else.

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores  

MM 7, N.C. Hwy. 58,

Pine Knoll Shores, NC

(252) 247-4003

Nearby Pine Knoll Shores is the home of the NC Aquarium, which offers a variety of programs in summer. Learn to surf – the museum provides lessons and all o the required equipment for a cost of $15/person.

Shackleford Banks Links



Shackleford Banks, NC


Campground, hotel, motel, or B&B -- whatever your style,we can point you to great local lodging.


Respect free-roaming horses as wildlife. Keep at least the length of a large bus between you and the horses at all times., And try not to disrupt their behavior with your presence.




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