Tucked away in Virginia’s historic Northern Neck and on the Middle Peninsula is Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). Here over 10,000 acres of land have been set aside where wildlife comes first, and people are but visitors. This Spring, the Refuge opened the Cat Point Creek Unit to the public, which is the sixth unit of the Refuge to be open for visitors.
Acquired by the US Fish and Wildlife Services in 2017, this 243-acre property has undergone a multi-year restoration resulting in over 1.5 miles of hiking trails, pollinator fields, overlooks towards the Rappahannock River and the Menokin Bay portion of Cat Point Creek, a fishing pier, restrooms, a covered pavilion and a children’s nature discovery area, “Wild in the Woods”.
A boat ramp has been added where canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and small boats are welcome. In keeping tranquil the quiet waters of Cat Point Creek, no gasoline-powered engines are allowed.
A favorite space here for children of all ages is the “Wild in the Woods” naturescape. Eight interactive stations focus on how animals live in their habitats. “Wild in the Woods” encourages children to be active and provides an excellent opportunity for environmental education while having fun.
This unit offers excellent wildlife viewing owing to the number of habitat types in close proximity to one another, including freshwater tidal wetlands, pine and hardwood forests, a pond and pollinator fields. Commonly seen wildlife include bald eagles, turkeys, osprey, several species of turtles, beaver, river otters, and a high diversity of fishes associated with the exceptional water quality found in Cat Point Creek. Several tracts of the Refuge are part of the
Northern Neck Loop of Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ Coastal Birding & Wildlife Trail.
The Refuge is open year-round, dawn until dusk. Some areas may be closed during specific hunting seasons, so please visit the website at fws.gov/refuge/rappahannock-river-valley, or contact the Refuge Manager, for further information. The address of the Cat Point Creek Unit is 2570 Newland Road, Warsaw VA.
Near the Refuge along Cat Point Creek is Menokin, home of Declaration of Independence signer Francis Lightfoot Lee. The Menokin Foundation is stabilizing the stone house and adding structural glass so that visitors will see how an 18th century house was constructed. Guided tours of the construction-in-progress are available by appointment for groups, families or individuals
at menokin.org, or by calling (804) 333-1776.
Both the Refuge and Menokin are close to the Town of Warsaw, the historic county seat of Richmond County. The Town of Warsaw offers boutique shopping, upscale dining, a children’s playground, and dog park. Events, including a farmers’ market on Fridays, live music at Oyster
Shoals Music Hall and WarsawFest, are announced on facebook.com/townofwarsawva.
The birthplaces of three of the first five presidents — Washington, Madison, and Monroe — are located in this historic peninsula. So too is Stratford Hall Historic Preserve, the imposing 1738 home of the Lee family, who spearheaded the independence movement and the revolutionary
struggle in Virginia. Home to American diplomats, spies, and Declaration signatories, Stratford Hall’s self-guided audio tours introduce you to the incredible stories of the Lees and the enslaved Africans and African Americans and indentured servants who lived and labored there. For more
information or itineraries for activities and events in the Northern Neck, call the Northern Neck Tourism Commission at 804.333.1919 or email [email protected]
Wild in the Woods is a children’s interactive naturescape at Cat Point Creek