Canoeing through the cypress swamp.
Blackwater River Canoeing through the cypress swamp. © Daniel White / TNC

Places We Protect

Blackwater River Preserve

Virginia

Paddle through an ancient bald cypress forest

Overview

Blackwater River Preserve has one of the best remaining examples of an ancient bald cypress forest in the southeast. Biologists estimate that some trees at this preserve exceed 800 years old.

Researchers have used the cypress trees at the preserve to investigate the demise of the original Jamestown colony, which they predate. The trees reveal climate variations over their lifetimes and indicate that a prolonged drought may have affected the colony's survival. 

This site was donated to The Conservancy in 1994 by Arthur and Marie Kirk. It was a wonderful opportunity to protect the bald cypress trees.

Conditions

Due to the swampy terrain and lack of access by road, the preserve is accessible only by canoe. Spring is the best time to visit because water levels are higher.

The nearest put-in above the preserve is at the Route 621 (Proctors Bridge Road) bridge. Paddlers can take out at the Route 620 bridge.

What to See: Animals

The preserve harbors a  variety of birds, including the colorful prothonotary warbler. It's also home to reptiles, amphibians, snakes, turtles, and a few rare fish species.

What to See: Plants

In addition to the ancient bald cypress trees, the virgin swamp forest features large water tupelo, red maple, and persimmon.

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