In addition to the significant woodpecker population, the largest on private land in the state, the preserve also provides habitat to a multitude of other wildlife species, including the bald eagle, peregrine flacon, red wolf, black bear, bobcat and more than 100 migratory bird species.

Goals Of The Preserve

The Palmetto-Peartree Preserve is an example of a long-term partnership that integrates economic, social and environmental efforts in order to protect our nation’s outdoor heritage. We own and manage the preserve to protect wildlife habitat and serve as a demonstration project for sustainable forestry and working lands preservation. Our goals are to:

  • Manage the preserve to protect the existing red-cockaded woodpecker population and enhance the habitat to increase the population.
  • Use an ecosystem approach to manage and protect the preserve’s natural resources.
  • Provide sustainable revenue sources through selective logging, hunt leases, and nature tourism activities.
  • Implement natural resource-based economic and community development.

We are developing the preserve as a public park for recreation, environmental education and economic development. We work closely with local leaders and community members to implement ecotourism projects and programs, capitalizing on the area’s natural and cultural resources.


The Palmetto-Peartree Preserve seeks to be a model of true ecotourism by adhering to three guiding principles: Environmental Responsibility, Social Responsibility and Economic Responsibility.

Ecotourism can be an excellent economic driver for communities, proving that environmental objectives can be met simultaneously with economic goals.  As ecotourism begins to flourish at the preserve we will continue monitoring these valuable natural resources to ensure that recreational activities are in harmony with our environmental goals.

Things to Do


Red-cockaded-woodpecker. Courtesy USFWS.Birding & Wildlife Viewing Red-cockaded-woodpecker. Courtesy USFWS.Birding & Wildlife Viewing The Palmetto-Peartree Preserve is probably best known for its birding opportunities and has been designated as a state-significant Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. Twenty-eight groups of red-cockaded woodpeckers are located at the preserve and more than 100 species of migratory birds and waterfowl pass through each year. In addition, American alligators, red wolves, bobcats, black bears and white-tailed deer also make their home here. The Woodland Boardwalk Trail is complete with two observation stations, offering a quiet location to view the preserve’s abundant wildlife.

Hiking, Biking, & Riding

Enjoy nature at a leisurely pace along the quarter-mile Shoreline Boardwalk Trail or our new three quarter mile Woodland Boardwalk Trail. The Shoreline Trail takes you through a wetland forest before ultimately reaching the Albemarle Sound. The Woodland Boardwalk Trail winds through the pine forest and features two wildlife-viewing stations.  With 10,000 acres waiting to be explored, perhaps the best way to see the Palmetto-Peartree Preserve is by bike or horse. An extensive network of dirt logging roads offers a flat, compact surface suitable for mountain bikes and horses.


Thanks to a generous grant from the Anheuser Busch Foundation and the NC Adopt-A-Trail Program, Palmetto-Peartree Preserve has built a camping platform on Hidden Lake. After an invigorating paddle along the Albemarle Sound visitors can enter the pristine, tranquil waters of Hidden Lake and relax for the night under the stars. Reservations are required for overnight use of the platform and can be made through Roanoke River Partners. 


A canoe/kayak trail is accessible from the boardwalk trail and offers 14 miles of shoreline to explore along the Albemarle Sound and Alligator Creek. One mile west of the boardwalk lies Hidden Lake, surrounded by cypress trees and Spanish moss. This lake is only accessible by canoe or kayak and offers a quiet serenity for those looking to get away from it all. Signs and a map at the boat launch provide visitors with information about the paddle trail.

Hunting And Fishing

Lands of the Palmetto-Peartree Preserve are leased to local clubs for hunting of deer, waterfowl and other small game. The public is not allowed to hunt and lands leased for hunting are closed to public recreation. Leased lands are marked with signs and indicated on the property map. For safety reasons it is imperative that recreationists not enter into leased areas.

The Preserve has a wealth of water resources, including the Albemarle Sound, Alligator River and Little Alligator Creek. Recreational fishing is permitted at the preserve; however, you must have a state fishing license issued by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and follow the state rules and regulations. Fishing is not permitted on the camping platform or canoe pier. Fishermen are required to dispose of all trash, including fishing line, in the provided trash cans.

Getting to the Preserve

Five miles East of Columbia on US Hwy 64 or about 5 miles West of the Alligator River Bridge on US Hwy 64, turn North onto Old US Hwy 64 (SR-1229). After approximately 2 miles, turn North onto Newfoundland Road (SR-1221). Turn left onto Sound Side Road (SR-1209). Continue on Sound Side Road for less than 1 mile, then turn right onto Pot Licker or Loop Road (SR-1220). The entrance to the preserve is the first right. Follow signs to the boardwalks and canoe launches.

Driving Distances

Edenton, NC - 29 miles
Manteo, NC - 38 miles
Nags Head, NC - 47 miles
Norfolk, VA (closest major airport) - 98 miles
Rocky Mount, NC - 99 miles
Williamsburg, VA - 141 miles
Raleigh, NC - 154 miles
Washington, DC - 271 miles

Learn More