Abbey Nature Preserve Hiking Trail

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 20 minutes from downtown
Time to complete: 1-2 hours
Address: 10200 US Highway 17 N
City: Wilmington
State: N.C.
Zip: 28411
Latitude: 34.1842
Longitude: 77.4768

One of the joys of hiking in a nature preserve is that you have a better sense of where you are, what’s around you. That’s especially true of the 2.4-mile trail that explores this 67-acre preserve north of town.

The trail exists thanks to the combined efforts of the Foy family and the North Carolina Costal Land Trust. In 2005, the two got together to protect a portion of the Foy grounds, which date back to 1795. Part of the Poplar Grove Plantation, the site includes a museum that captures life in the 1800s. Some of what you see in the museum is much like it was more than 150 years ago.

The same can be said about the nature preserve. While the fields that grew soybeans, peanuts and corn until the 1970s sport a relatively young successional forest of sedges, cedars and pines, you’ll also find old growth forest, especially in the vicinity of the main house. Impressive oaks, longleaf pines, magnolia, tupelo and sweet gum are among the species you’ll walk past. A pond constructed to power a grain mill is now home to a bottomland forest dominated by cypress.

And lest you think this is pancake flat hiking, elevations reach 15 to 30 feet above sea level — nosebleed territory for a spot within smelling distance of the Atlantic.

More info: Poplar Grove Plantation

Maps: Downloadable here.

Getting there from downtown Wilmington