North Landing River Natural Area Preserve

Important Notices

COVID-19 & the VBWTBefore heading out to visit a site on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail, be sure to check if that site has any COVID-19 policies or closures in place. This information is typically posted on a site's own website.


Notice: The Preserve is now closed due to increased illegal activity and DCR’s lack of funding to support an Operations Steward to oversee this area.

This site comprises over 3,000 acres of riverside marsh, swamp, and forest. A 0.4-mile trail offers hiking, birdwatching and canoe access to the river and ends at the scenic black waters of the North Landing River. The trail winds through wet hardwood forests and swamps, where hikers cross on elevated boardwalks, and culminates in a view of wind-tidal marshes, where hikers cross on elevated boardwalks made of recycled plastic. On your way through the forest, stop periodically to search for the many species of birds and butterflies, such as palamedes swallowtail, sleepy orange, Carolina satyr, red-spotted purple, and viceroy, all of which occur along the entrance road. In stands of cane, watch for cane specialists, such as creole pearly-eye and lace-winged roadside-skipper. Along the road and river trail, watch for ovenbird, black-and-white and prothonotary warblers, yellow-billed cuckoo, white-breasted and brown-headed nuthatches, woodpeckers, great crested flycatcher, summer tanager, and yellow-throated vireo. The wooded edges and swamps host a diversity of reptiles and amphibians. In the summer, the boardwalk is especially productive for butterflies and dragonflies. Watch for species such as slaty and great blue skimmers, blue dasher, and common whitetail. The array of skippers, a special group of butterflies, along these edges includes dun, fiery, and zabulon and southern broken-dash.


From the Previous Site on the South Chesapeake Loop of VBWT:

From the Chesapeake Arboretum, return to Battlefield Boulevard South; drive 6.8 miles and turn left onto Hickory Road. Proceed 0.8 miles and turn right onto Centreville Turnpike. Make an immediate left on Head of River Road. Travel 6.9 miles, continuing east to Blackwater Road. Turn left onto Blackwater Road and drive north for 0.6 miles. Turn right at the preserve entrance and continue to the road’s end. The preserve entrance road ends with a parking lot at the trailhead.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: (757) 925-2318,
  • Website
  • Access: CLOSED until further notice

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Hiking Trails
  • Interpretive Trail
  • Parking