5. Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge

Located in Bertie County, North Carolina, Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge protects five tracts of land along the Roanoke River Basin. The floodplain on the lower Roanoke River is considered one of the largest intact, and least disturbed, bottomland forest ecosystems remaining in the Mid-Atlantic region. Refuge lands are part of an extensive bottomland hardwood forest consisting of mixed hardwood flats and ridges, cypress/tupelo sloughs, and black and brown water streams.

Concentrations of wintering waterfowl, nesting ducks, raptors, osprey and migratory songbirds are common. The largest inland heron rookery in North Carolina can be found on the refuge. Bald Eagles nest on adjacent lands, and winter on the river corridor. Other notable bird species that can be observed include Cerulean and Swainson’s Warblers and Mississippi Kites. The endangered shortnose sturgeon is also found in the southern portions of the river.

Public use opportunities include hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife observation and photography. Fishing is permitted on the Roanoke River proper as well as on some tributaries within the refuge boundaries. For hiking, wildlife observation and photography go to the Kuralt Trail, a half-mile self-guided nature trail where visitors can learn about the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem and enjoy natural surroundings. The refuge hosts hunts for deer, waterfowl, small game and turkey by special permit. Contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for more information about hunting on the refuge.