Blackwater River Preserve

Why You Should Visit

This 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.


Southampton County, just below Hickaneck Swamp, extending about one mile along the west bank of the Blackwater River.


Open year-round, dawn to dusk.

Review preserve guidelines.  Please note: dogs are not allowed at any Conservancy preserve.


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.

Why The Conservancy Selected This Site

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.

What The Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

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. The study has been featured on PBS.

The Southern Rivers, the landscape area that includes Blackwater River Preserve, remains a high priority for conservation action. In 2006, the Conservancy worked with International Paper and private investors to conserve more than 15,000 acres along the Blackwater, Meherrin and Nottoway rivers.

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.

For more information about Blackwater River Preserve, contact the Virginia State Office: (434) 295-6106.


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.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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