United States

Outer Banks, NC

A comprehensive guide to the best places to run in the Outer Banks

A 200-mile long series of splits and islands covering most of the North Carolina coastline, the Outer Banks draws tourists for its warm weather, gorgeous geography, and fantastic beaches. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore includes 70 miles of the OBX’s 100 miles of beaches, from Bodie Island in the north to Hatteras and Orcacoke Island in the South. The Outer Banks is a large geographic area, and not all sections of the 120-mile long Highway 12 are suitable for running — so use this guide to the best places for running in the Outer Banks! Some running highlights include:

Best Stretch of Highway 12: The 16 miles between Duck and Nags Head have a separated path and some great water views.

Beaches. A ‘renourishment’ program has helped make the beaches wider and flatter. Good beach running is always situational, but it can be great in the Outer Banks.

Best Off-Road Trails. We love the boardwalk in Duck, the oceanside trail in Corolla, and the trails in Nags Head Woods Preserve.

Best History. Great runs around the Wright Brothers Memorial, and the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

Best Road Sections. Lovely running on the tip of Orcacoke Island, and around the towns of Southern Shores and Corolla.

Most Challenging: The dunes of Jockey’s State Park, and the sandy Open Ponds Trail in the Hatteras National Seashore.

  • All Routes
  • Iconic Routes
  • Weather & Climate
  • Where To Stay
  • Stores & Group Runs
  • Events

Corolla Tour

Outer Banks, NC

The northernmost town in the Outer Banks has good running options. A 'Corolla Tour' of nearly 5 miles features an ocean-side path, and historic Park with paths to an old mansion and lighthouse. 4+ mile multi-use path along Hwy 12.
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Southern Shores Options

Outer Banks, NC

One of the widest sections of the Outer Banks, with several good running options: pretty residential side streets featuring some of area's nicest homes; a 3-mile road alongside a golf course; bike path alongside Highway 12; and beautiful beach.
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Nags Head Woods Preserve Trails

Outer Banks, NC

Run through sand dunes, ponds, marshes and wetlands in this 1,000+ acre preserve that is a National Natural Landmark. Near Nags Head & Wright Bros. Memorial. 5 miles of trails, lots of variety and different surfaces in this maritime forest preserve.
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Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve

Outer Banks, NC

Good off-road running opportunities at the mid-point of the Outer Banks. The Reserve has roads and trails through maritime forest, marshes, and brackish swamplands. There's a multi-use trail, path alongside Woods Rd., more rugged through the woods.
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Jockey’s Ridge Park Sand Dune Run

Outer Banks, NC

Run the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic Coast! Run the unique, challenging 'Tracks in the Sand' Trail, through soft sand, in Jockey's Ridge State Park. Can combine with Soundside Nature Trail, which opens onto wetlands, grassy dunes and maritime thickets.
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Ocracoke Island

Outer Banks, NC

The outermost part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore is only reachable by ferry. For runners, that means lack of cars and quiet roads. We've mapped a nice loop around the southern part of the island, with nice water views, Lighthouse, historic sites.
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The Outer Banks has a subtropical climate, featuring 200 sunny days a year. Summer, which is peak tourist time, can be hot, and humid, with some moderation due to the ocean influence. Average summer high temps are in the mid-80s (29C), and nights are sultry. Winters are cool, with average high temperatures in the low 50s (11C) and nights just above freezing. Some of the most pleasant weather is in April, May, and October. Winters can be rainy, but most of the summer rain comes in the form of thunderstorms. Note that the exposed location leaves the Outer Banks vulnerable to coastal storms and hurricanes.

 

Tri Outer Banks Sports, in Kill Devils Hills is a great spot for running gear.

Sadly, Roanoke Island Running Company closed in 2018.

Outer Banks Running Club is very active, has weekly group runs, and  other events.

2018 KILLER DUNES 2-MILER & FUN RUN
Nags Head, NC

Annual Outer Banks Races (courtesy, Atlantic Realty)

Graveyard 100 — March

Running of the Leprechauns — March

Flying Pirate Half Marathon — April

OBX Ultramarathon 50K — May

Nags Head Woods 5K — May

Corolla Surfside Scute — May

Shore Break 5K and Tide Pool Fun Run — May

Cupcake 5K — May (Relay for Life Weekend)

Storm the Beach 5K and Obstacle Run — June

OBX Killer Dunes 2 Miler/Liberty Fun Run — July (Jockey’s Ridge)

OBX Sandbar 5K — August

Outer Banks Triathalon — September

All Out Pink Road Race — September

Currituck Wild Goose Chase 5K — October (Whalehead Club)

Outer Banks Marathon — November

Outer Banks Gobbler 5K — November

Turkey Trot 5K — Thanksgiving

Festivus 5K — Christmas