The Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce wants you to have a great time while you are in the area. Below are some recommendations for you to plan into your next trip to Hyde County.
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We would like to thank Sunny Day Guide for the use of the information found in our Things to Do section. They are the publishers of our very informative Visitor's Guide.
Ocracoke Island - #1 Beach in America
When you visit Ocracoke Island, be sure to take time to reflect on all that makes this place so special to those of us who live here. Discover the beauty of Ocracoke Island on North Carolina’s historic Outer Banks. Infamous beach aficionado Stephen Leatherman (aka “Dr. Beach”) did in 2007 and named the remote island the number 1 beach in America. Conde Naste Traveler mag-azine followed suit and recognized tiny Ocracoke as the number 5 beach in the world!
The pristine unspoiled seaside beaches stretch along 16 miles of the island. Owned by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and maintained by the National Park Service, this pristine environment provides the perfect summer venue for swimming, surf fishing, surfing and boat-ing. Because of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, Ocracoke’s temperate weather also welcomes vacationers the rest of the year. World-class shelling, biking, bird-watching and kayaking are just a few of the activities that await “off-season” visitors.
The village of Ocracoke at the south-ern tip of the island is accessible only by private plane, private boat, or one of the state-run ferries from Cedar Island, Swan Quarter, and Hatteras Village. These limited modes of access have helped pre-serve the prominent Old English-inspired brogue of the local residents and the old-time island way of life.
Until the 1950s, the island’s residents lived in relative isolation. Their contact with the mainland was from daily trips by the mail boat. They made their living from fishing and hunting and as guides. Ocracoke had long been the destination of wealthy hunters and fishermen and of mainland families who could afford to summer in the cool breezes that the island offered, but it was not until Highway 12 was paved and scheduled ferry service was offered in 1957 that Ocracoke Island was truly discovered.
For a brief period during World War II, the Coast Guard station was trans-formed into a US Navy base. Beaches were closed, fishing was curtailed, homes and businesses were requisitioned, and the island’s life style was interrupted. The war was witnessed firsthand offshore where “Torpedo Junction” claimed more than 60 ships during the first 6 months of 1942. The British Cemetery on Ocracoke serves as a reminder of this period and of the generosity of Ocracoke people. It holds the bodies of four young British soldiers who lost their lives when the HMC Bedfordshire was torpedoed by a German submarine off the Ocracoke coast. Island residents found and buried the bodies on donated land and maintained the graves.
The history of Ocracoke is rich in sea lore. Blackbeard, the infamous pirate who plundered the Carolina coast in the early 1700s, fought his last battle just off the island at Teach’s Hole, where he lost his head. Legend hints that his vast treasure may still be buried here. Ocracoke Inlet served as the main waterway at one time, forming port towns on Ocracoke and Portsmouth islands and spurring the growth of these coastal villages. Portsmouth Village, now a ghost town, is maintained by the Cape Lookout Park Service and can be toured. The oldest working lighthouse in North Carolina and one of the oldest on the East Coast has stood tall on Ocracoke since 1823, guiding ships along the treacherous Graveyard of the Atlantic.
The small community of 800 year-round residents works together to preserve the island’s culture and his-tory. Learn about some of the first families of Ocracoke, its place in the Civil and World Wars, and island traditions at the Ocracoke Preservation Museum near the ferry docks. Local volunteers aid the National Park Service in the care of the famous Banker Ponies that once roamed free and numbered near 200. Today, the descendants are penned on a large track just off Highway 12 and can be observed in their natural habitat.
Over the years, Ocracoke has been transformed from an isolated fishing village into the perfect vacation spot. While enjoying the simplicity of island life at the speed of a stroll, visitors can sample gourmet food and local shops featuring distinctive retail, fine art, exquisite jewelry, and island-inspired clothing. Lodging accommodations range from simply appointed motels and homey bed and breakfasts to refined inns and luxurious suites. Rental cottages are also a popular choice for families and large groups. Reasonable rentals of bikes, boats, fishing gear, and beach gear are plentiful. Sunset cruises, musical performances, lectures, quilting, and even ghost walks are offered.
Come and experience island time at any time of the year.
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The imposing structure known today as Mattamuskeet Lodge was built in 1915-1916 by the Mattamuskeet Drainage District as a steam-powered pumping plant to afford drainage to 100,000 acres of rich farmland, including the bed of NC’s largest natural lake, Lake Mattamuskeet. Huge pumps moved 1,200,000 gallons of water per minute, making the plant the largest capacity pumping station in the world at the time.
Three private corporations successively owned the lake from 1911-1934. The first two were land development com-panies interested in making a profit by draining the lake and selling the rich bed as family farms and residential lots, much as had been successfully done in Holland. The community that developed around the pumping plant was named “New Holland.”
The third corporation aban-doned the real estate plan and turned the lake bed into a com-mercial farm. Approximately 13,000 acres of the rich lake bed produced record yields of soybeans, corn, wheat, and a variety of truck crops. The farm operated 51 steel-wheeled and crawler tractors, a fleet of farm trucks, and its own 35-mile freight railway called the New Holland, Higginsport, and Mt. Vernon Railroad.
In 1932, the drainage district was abandoned and the lake property sold to the U.S. government to create Mattamuskeet Migratory Bird Refuge. Between 1935-1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps transformed the farming operation into the refuge, and converted the old pumping station into a rustic hunting resort called Mattamuskeet Lodge.
The Lodge opened to the public on Nov. 26, 1937 and operated until 1974. During those years, Lake Mattamuskeet was acclaimed as the “Canada Goose Hunting Capital of the World.” It was widely regarded as the premier hunting spot on the Atlantic Flyway. The migrating flocks of Canada geese declined in the late 1960s, and the Fish and Wildlife Service closed the Lodge to the public in 1974. The building deteriorated for the next 20 years. In 1980, Mattamuskeet Lodge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, temporarily saving the building from destruction.
Since 1991, several nonprofit organizations have worked together to save the Lodge and preserve its place in the annals of American history. It was closed to the public in November 2000 due to struc-tural safety concerns. In 2006, the Federal Government transferred this historic structure to the State of NC. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission will be responsible for repairing and maintaining the Lodge.
The Mattamuskeet Lodge restoration is well underway. The prime intent of this project is to conserve and preserve every possible fiber of the origi-nal building fabric and to honor the original design and historic building experience as much as possible. Work is expected to continue throughout 2009 with an expected opening by January of 2010.
For more information on this piece of America’s history, visit the following web sites:
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Navigating Hyde County
Below are links to Adobe .pdf maps that will assist you in navigating throughout Hyde County to the many popular destinations.
Click Here to View Adobe .pdf of the Hyde County Mainland (4.67MB)
Click Here to View Adobe .pdf of the Ocracoke Village (4.82MB)
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Are you searching for a place where hunting is a cherished tradition, where visitors get a hungry man’s helping of hospitality, where the quarry includes big game, small game and waterfowl? Look no further, you’ve found Hyde County.
Best known for world-class waterfowling, Hyde County includes the legendary Lake Mattamuskeet and the Pamlico Sound. These waters, their wetlands and tributaries over-winter thousands of tundra swans, Canada geese, snow geese, brant, puddle ducks, diving ducks and sea ducks. In Hyde County, the opportunities to hunt waterfowl are as broad as the horizon. Experienced guides provide services to meet every hunter’s expectation, from semi-guided hunts to full guided hunts complete with decoy sets, well-trained retriev-ers and callers.
If gunning pintails, mal-lards and teal is your bag, you’ll never forget your wake-up call from a blind in a flooded impoundment near Lake Mattamuskeet. Or try a big water hunt from a floating blind on the mainland side of Pamlico Sound, where scoters, old squaw and canvasbacks will keep you returning season after season. For a real getaway, hunt a pole blind on the Ocracoke Island side of Pamlico Sound and enjoy the challenge of shooting brant, redheads and pintails. If you like your birds big – and white – pack your tundra swan permit and head for the fields where these magnificent birds make daily feeding forays.
Hyde County provides exceptional waterfowl hunting on public land (check regula-tions and maps before hunting). Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) hosts a lottery hunt along breathtaking Lake Mattamuskeet, where dabblers, divers and swans congregate. Sea ducks, divers, black ducks and wigeon frequent the Swan Quarter NWR hunt area as well as the Gull Rock Game Land (GL) shoreline. Gull Rock also has impoundment hunting for dabblers as well as truck and boat accessible campsites. For divers, try the Pungo River GL, where canvasbacks and scaup cruise the shoreline between Smith and Scranton Creeks. And for coastal hunting without the challenge of big water, hunt New Lake GL, where wood ducks, teal and mallards flock to Kilkenny Marsh.
Looking for big game? Hyde County black bears put the big in big game! Bears are numer-ous on the mainland, and whether you prefer to still hunt or use dogs, local guides can put you where the big action is.
Dreaming of whitetails? With thousands of acres to hunt and years of experience, local guides can assist with everything from directing you to a stand to helping you pack and process your game. Want to deer hunt on public land? Success is phenomenal on the permit-only Pungo Unit hunt on Pocosin Lakes NWR; other portions of the refuge are open without permits. Gull Rock GL is open to deer hunting, and a permit-only season is open on Mattamuskeet NWR.
If small game is your pur-suit, hunt a mainland preserve, or hit the trail at Pocosin Lakes NWR or Gull Rock GL, where quail, dove and rabbit await.
Whether you’re new to hunting or cut your teeth on a duck call -if you’re looking for a special place to hunt ... you’ve found it in Hyde County.
For information on hunting seasons, regulations, licenses & permits, visit the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission web site at: www.wildlife.state.nc.us or call them at (919) 707-0030.
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Trails - Walking/Driving/Biking/Paddling
Interested in learning more about our heritage, getting closer to nature or studying the ecology of the area? These self-guided tours are a great way to do just that. Brochures to guide you are available within the featured community.
A Glimpse of Historic Fairfield -
This walking/rid-ing tour in the heart of Hyde County meanders through the Fairfield National Register Historic District. This pleasant, rural village includes rare, intact examples of the Italianate and Carpenter Gothic-style buildings.
Historic Lake Landing Landmarks -
This riding tour through the Lake Landing Historic District comprises 13,400 acres and 25 homes, churches and other buildings. This entire agricultural district is part of the early 18th- century Mattamuskeet Indian Reservation.
Hyde County’s Talking Houses & Historic Places -
A novel way to enjoy the quieter pace of life is to do it from the comfort of your car. Ten historic sites are equipped with AM radio transmitters that provide ready information. Set your AM radio dial to the appropriate frequency shown for that site, sit back, listen and learn!
Ocracoke Hammock Hills Nature Trail -
Winding through yaupon, pine and myrtle; meandering across tall sand dunes and finally emerging at the sound shore, this 3/4-mile loop trail offers a fine opportunity to explore the natural side of Ocracoke. The easy-to-walk trail is located opposite the National Park Service campground, three miles north of the village on NC 12.
Ocracoke Civil War Trail -
Stand at the granite Civil War marker on the Pamlico Sound shore and imagine the massive walls of Fort Ocracoke rising in the distance. Built on tiny Beacon Island, this stone, sand and sod fort was destroyed in the face of advancing Union troops in September 1861. Scattered remnants of the fort, as well as Beacon Island itself, now lie submerged. Pottery and glass shards retrieved from the site and other displays may be seen at the nearby Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum.
Ocracoke Historical Interpretative Trail -
Ocracoke’s historical, natural and cultural attractions are fea-tured on this island tour. Walk or bike the route; you’re sure to enjoy the scenery – a pic-turesque harbor, shady streets, memorable sunrises and sun-sets, and a pristine beach.
Historic Albemarle Tour -
Mattamuskeet Lodge and Historic Ocracoke are two of the 32 sites on this driving tour of northeast NC. Whether your interest is Colonial, Civil War, Native American or the envi-ronment, you’re sure to find just the right match along this NC heritage trail.
Charles Kuralt Trail -
Hyde County’s four National Wildlife Refuges are featured on this trail, established to help people enjoy these wildlands and to recognize the broadcast journalist who shared the delights and wonders of such out-of-the-way places. Alligator River NWR, 152,000 acres of habitat especially important to black bears and red wolves, is a haven for water-fowl and other migratory birds. Pocosin Lakes NWR provides over 112,000 acres of habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers, waterfowl, neotropical migratory birds, red wolves, black bears and whitetail deer. Mattamuskeet NWR is known for the thousands of wintering waterfowl, such as the tundra swan that it attracts each year. Swan Quarter NWR includes key areas that are particularly important to migratory waterfowl and other marsh birds.
Scenic Byways -
Three of NC’s Scenic Byways traverse the county. The Alligator River Route, 71 miles, begins near Mattamuskeet Lake and travels north through Mattamuskeet NWR and the historic village of Fairfield, before ending on Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks Scenic Byway, 111 miles, encom-passes all of Ocracoke Island – from the Hatteras Ferry to the Cedar Island Ferry. Hyde County’s portion of the 127-mile Pamlico Scenic Byway meanders across the county, showcasing its natural beauty and wildlife.
Springer’s Point -
Ancient maritime forest off of Loop Road in the Village of Ocracoke, offers a tranquil nature sanctuary with planned hiking trails, interpretative signs, and beaches.
NC Bike Route 2 -
Stretching 700 miles from the NC mountains to the sea, this bike route has two segments within Hyde County. The Mattamuskeet segment, along the Pamlico Sound, lets you explore the numerous inlets and bays of the Mainland. The Outer Banks route takes you through the barrier island of Ocracoke.
NC Birding Trail -
Promoting sustainable bird-watching activities, economic opportunities and conservation education. This trail physically links great bird-watching sites and birders with communities, businesses and other local histori-cal and educational attractions.
North Carolina Coastal Plain Paddle Trails -
Three different waterways within the county have been designated as paddle trails. Paddlers can observe the natural beauty and remoteness of the region, or visit the small com-munities along the way and explore historic sites. The Alligator River trail, 22 miles, includes a portion on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The Lake Mattamuskeet trail, 10 miles, is entirely on Mattamuskeet NWR. In the western end of the county is the 11-mile Pungo River trail, which runs through black-water marshes and past cypress swamps.
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Fishing Fantasy Turns Into Reality
Ocracoke: If your fishing fantasy includes uncrowded beaches for surf angling or top-notch charter captains for offshore and sound fishing, Ocracoke turns fantasy into reality. Ranked as America’s #1 beach in 2007, the island boasts 17 miles of pristine shoreline, home to nesting sea turtles and acrobatic bottlenosed dolphin, and destination for some of the best surf and boat fishing on the East Coast.
In January, as northern waters grow too cold, trophy striped bass move south to forage Ocracoke’s surf. Mixed in with the stripers are speckled trout and puppy drum. When the striper action ebbs, the specs and drum remain. This happy circumstance continues through February and into March when the specs return to the Pamlico Sound and the big drum come into the surf to really get your blood moving. The big reds usually prowl the surf through late April before they move into the sound and inlets. Late spring also produces huge cobia for the patient angler who settles in at the right spot.
As the surf action heats up, the charter boats begin their season. Offshore, bluefin tuna, yellowfin and common dolphin can make for a memorable day in late winter and early spring. Wreck fishing will produce triggerfish, black sea bass, snapper, grouper and big bluefish during this time. Inshore, boat fishing will provide hookups with big drum, gray trout and flounder.
When balmy spring days give way to summer’s heat, the offshore action really turns on. Billfish and wahoo provide most of the excitement, while king mackerel, amberjack and cobia cruise the wrecks. Startled fisher-men may also find a barracuda at the end of their line. Pamlico Sound fishing for speckled or gray trout and flounder keeps drift fishermen happy.
Back on shore, summer fish have settled into the surf. Blues, sea mullet, pompano, black drum and flounder keep beach anglers busy. Bloodworms, shrimp and finger mullet on light tackle do the trick. Puppy drum seem bashful, but dedicated fishermen can still find them. Schools of Spanish mackerel move in and out along the shoreline, enticing anglers to throw metal lures.
Cool evenings and shorter days signal the onset of fall fishing mayhem. September through November provides some of the best surf fishing to be had anywhere. Big drum return to the surf and puppy drum seem to be everywhere. Bluefish provide plenty of action as well. But for the skilled angler who enjoys light tackle, nothing beats the excitement of chasing false albacore in the surf. Just getting one of these fish to hit your lure is an achievement, and screaming line against a properly set drag will definitely get your attention.
By late Nov. many anglers are storing their gear for winter, but the action is far from over. Gold Hopkins, Smoothies and other lures will trick puppy drum that continue to ply the surf. As the water cools, the stripers move down and the cycle begins anew.
Mainland: Year-round fishing excitement on the Mainland is also beyond com-pare. Experienced local guides are eager to help identify the hot spots, demonstrate casting techniques and recommend the perfect baits.
The 40,000-acre Lake Mattamuskeet and its canals offer unparalleled shallow water quests for largemouth bass, black crappie, bream and catfish from early spring through June. The freshwater action returns in the fall with the added thrill of catching white perch and blue crabs. Just north of the lake, the Little Alligator River portion of the New Lake Game Land is the perfect fly-fishing getaway for the bream enthusiast.
Anglers casting in the Pamlico Sound bays and creeks, from spring through fall are rewarded with speckled and gray trout, red drum, flounder, spot and croaker. The Pungo River offers angling challenges for these species as well as for striped bass and tarpon.
Whether an angler leans toward fresh or salty, Hyde County is a great catch!
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