6. Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is located 70 miles east of Washington, North Carolina. The refuge’s main feature is Lake Mattamuskeet, which, at 40,000 acres, is North Carolina’s largest natural lake. The refuge is known among wildlife enthusiasts for the thousands of wintering waterfowl that it attracts every year. Despite its size, the lake varies in depth from only half a foot to four feet deep. The lake is dotted with bald cypress trees, and its dense beds of submerged aquatic vegetation provide excellent food sources for swans and diving ducks. Over 100,000 tundra swans, Canada Geese, snow geese and 18 species of ducks overwinter on the refuge annually. Mattamuskeet also provides habitat for many other species, including wading birds, shorebirds and birds of prey such as the osprey and bald eagle. Mammal species found on the refuge include deer, bobcat, otter, black bear and the endangered red wolf. Viewing waterfowl and other wildlife species is especially good along the Highway 94 causeway, which travels across Lake Mattamuskeet and includes an observation deck. Visitors are welcome to walk or bicycle throughout the refuge, but are cautioned to observe refuge regulatory signs, as some areas are closed to the public during winter. Boating and sport fishing for largemouth bass, striped bass, crappie and other species is permitted on Lake Mattamuskeet and the adjacent canals. Taking blue crabs at the water control structures is also a popular sport. All state regulations apply. The refuge also provides for hunting of white-tailed deer and waterfowl. Contact the refuge for more information.