Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
People Kayaking on the Refuge

Enjoy Your Visit...

Though wildlife is the first priority, providing opportunities for the public to enjoy the refuge is also important. A variety of wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities are available at certain times and places on the refuge. Unannounced closures of some areas may occur periodically to reduce disturbance to sensitive wildlife or to complete maintenance projects. Check for information at the refuge office during the week or at refuge kiosks for up-to-date information.


Kuralt Overlook on Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge

  • Observation/Photography/Bicycling/Hiking

  • These activities may be enjoyed year-round from certain areas adjacent to the Marsh Causeway (SR615). Providing a scenic journey through a swamp-like habitat, the Great Marsh Trail (0.3 mile loop) is home to a variety of songbirds, small mammals, reptiles, and other creatures. Another area of interest is the Kuralt Trail observation site. Fully equipped with spotting scopes, this elevated platform provides an excellent view of the Great Marsh. During the fall and winter, tundra swans, ducks, and large concentrations of snow geese congregate in the ponds south of this site. Mackay Island Road is also accessible year-round from SR 615 to the dike gate, offering glimpses of wildlife and their various habitats.
    From March 15 to October 15 the area beyond the dike gate at the end of Mackay Island Road is also open. This area provides bicycling and hiking opportunities on seven miles of dikes around the refuge impoundments (pools). Whitetail deer, waterfowl, wading birds, and many other species may be encountered.


  • Fishing and Crabbing

  • Bank fishing/crabbing is permitted year-round in the following areas: the Marsh Causeway (SR 615), the bridge over Corey's Ditch, the Great Marsh Trail, and along Mackay Island Road from SR 615 to the dike gate. From March 15 to October 15 all areas of the refuge are open including the impoundments (pools) beyond the dike gate. These areas may only be accessed by hiking, bicycling, or by boat from Currituck Sound. Striped bass, catfish, perch, and occasionally flounder can be caught from the bridge over Corey's Ditch. Largemouth bass, bream, and catfish are the most commonly caught species in the other areas.

  • Hunting

  • Public deer hunts are conducted on the refuge during the fall months (September - December). Waterfowl hunting is available on nearby Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. Contact the refuge office in mid-August for brochures, permits, and additional information.

  • Boating

  • Boating is allowed on refuge waters from March 15 to October 15. The Great Marsh provides an excellent area for canoeing/kayaking. An unimproved boat ramp is available at the dike gate.

  • Special Events

  • "Open roads Day" events are held throughout the year, to provide opportunities to fish and to observe waterfowl and other wildlife by driving the dike system around the impoundments (pools). Visit our Calendar of Events page for a complete listing of Special Events.

Last Updated: 5/19/14