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

Places We Protect

Blackwater River Preserve

Virginia

Explore one of the best remaining examples of an ancient bald cypress forest in the southeast.

COVID-19 UPDATE (June 3, 2020)

TNC’s public preserves in Virginia remain open. We ask all visitors to observe our preserve access guidelines and to follow current health and safety precautions, including guidance from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others (social distancing).

Parking may be limited at many of our preserves. If you choose to visit a preserve, if possible, please visit outside of peak times (11 a.m. through 4 p.m.) to reduce overcrowding in parking areas and on trails. If parking areas are full, please plan to return to the preserve another day.

Thank you for helping us in our efforts to protect our visitors’ health and well-being.


 

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.

Kayaking in a bald cypress swamp
Blackwater River
Paddle through one of the best remaining examples of an ancient bald cypress forest in the southeast.

Blackwater River Preserve Enjoy a paddle through an ancient bald cypress forest.