Run Hill

Run Hill State Natural Area: A Hidden Gem in the Outer Banks

Tucked away in the scenic beauty of the Outer Banks, Run Hill State Natural Area offers an unparalleled escape into one of North Carolina’s most fascinating landscapes. This lesser-known treasure, adjacent to the bustling life of Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, stands as a testament to the raw, untouched beauty of the area. With its towering dunes, diverse ecosystems, and panoramic views, Run Hill beckons adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and those seeking a moment of tranquility away from the tourist trails.

A Sanctuary of Sand and Sky

Run Hill State Natural Area is home to some of the highest sand dunes on the East Coast, offering breathtaking vistas of both the Roanoke Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. These ancient dunes are not just a sight to behold but also a crucial habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. The area’s unique topography creates a mosaic of habitats, from maritime forests and dune grasslands to freshwater ponds, each supporting its own community of life.

Trails through Time

Exploring Run Hill State Natural Area is to walk through the pages of history. The shifting sands tell tales of centuries passed, with each step revealing a new layer of the Outer Banks’ natural heritage. While there are no marked trails, the area is a haven for those who enjoy unguided exploration, allowing visitors to blaze their own paths through the dunes and discover the natural wonders that lie hidden beneath the surface.

A Diverse Ecosystem

Run Hill’s varied landscapes provide a refuge for an array of wildlife. Birdwatchers will find themselves in paradise, with opportunities to spot rare and migratory birds that make their home among the dunes and forests. The area’s secluded ponds and marshes offer a glimpse into the lives of amphibians, reptiles, and other aquatic species, showcasing the biodiversity that thrives in this natural sanctuary.

Conservation and Respect

As a designated State Natural Area, Run Hill is protected for its ecological significance and natural beauty. Visitors are encouraged to respect the delicate balance of this ecosystem, adhering to Leave No Trace principles to ensure that its beauty remains untouched for future generations. The commitment to conservation is evident in every aspect of the area, from the preservation of its landscapes to the education of its visitors about the importance of protecting natural habitats.

Planning Your Visit

Run Hill State Natural Area is open to the public year-round, offering a serene alternative to the more crowded destinations in the Outer Banks. Visitors are advised to prepare for their adventure by wearing appropriate footwear, bringing water, and packing sun protection. With no formal facilities, the area is a true back-to-nature experience, perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in the tranquility of the Outer Banks’ wild side.


Run Hill State Natural Area is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of adventure, history, and natural beauty. Whether you’re climbing its majestic dunes, observing its diverse wildlife, or simply enjoying the peace that comes with being in nature, Run Hill provides a rare opportunity to connect with the environment on a profound level. It’s a place where the whispers of the past meet the tranquility of the present, inviting all who visit to discover the untold stories of the Outer Banks.