A great place to stroll and pass some time is the boardwalk that winds along most of the Manteo waterfront. One end is quiet, with benches that look out over the sound and marsh grasses tickling the edges of the walk. The boardwalk stretches from Marshes Light development marina to downtown Manteo, past Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse and a children’s playground with swings and a pirate ship for climbing on, past a gazebo that hangs over the water, past the busy waterfront docks, where transient and resident sailboats and motorboats fill the slips, and ends at the Cora Mae Daniels Basnight Bridge that leads to Roanoke Island Festival Park. Alongside the public docks, storefronts and restaurants line this portion of the boardwalk, and their customers spill out onto the boardwalk to enjoy the breeze. Boat and kayak tours leave from this area of downtown.
A delightful stroll over the Cora Mae Basnight Bridge provides you with a commanding view of the Elizabeth II, Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, the Manteo waterfront marina and the working waterfront on Dough’s Creek. At the end of the bridge, follow the sidewalk to the boardwalk at Roanoke Island Festival Park. The trailhead is reached by a crosswalk to your left through the parking area. A sign announces the entrance to the boardwalk.
This relaxing nature walk weaves its way alongside a tranquil waterway used by local watermen to access Shallowbag Bay and Roanoke Sound. To your left, you will observe the expansive vista of a black needle rush salt marsh that provides habitat to numerous aquatic species. Continuing along, you are surrounded by a maritime forest of Atlantic white cedars, red cedars, loblolly pines, live oaks, myrtles and hollies before the boardwalk pauses at a dock overlooking Jockey’s Ridge and the soundside shore of Nags Head.
Continue left along the paved walkway that circles the Pavilion lawn to the second path to your left. A sign announces the entrance to the park’s award-winning Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration project. This shoreline restoration project is a collaborative effort among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Wilmington District, State of North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Division of Water Resources and the Roanoke Island Commission. Other federal, state, local and non-profit agencies played major roles in restoring the shoreline by building a rock sill, planting marsh grasses and maritime forest and creating a one-acre oyster reef outside the sill.
This pathway and boardwalk lead to a dock on Shallowbag Bay. Interpretive signs placed along the path illustrate the unique components of the project through photographs, sketches and descriptive text. This self-guided tour provides visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the value of environmental restoration and management of aquatic and maritime forest resources, a first-hand look at the beneficial effects of restoration methods and information to assist in identification of aquatic plants, animal and native tree species found in and around the Roanoke Island Festival Park.
From here you can walk back to Manteo’s downtown area, or stay and explore all of the great activities at Roanoke Island Festival Park.