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The refuge offers numerous hiking, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, boating, fishing, and hunting opportunities. The refuge’s marshes are alive with waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, wading birds, marsh birds, mink, otter, and other wildlife species; the sounds of songbirds, wood ducks, and deer echo in the forests. There are two public boat ramps with launching and parking facilities. The refuge’s firebreaks and access roads are used by the public for hiking, biking, and bird watching. Visitors may (carefully) pull off on the side of NC Highway 12 to view wildlife.

Activities

The refuge is bisected by NC Highway 12, which provides an easy way to experience the refuge and see wildlife. Hiking is allowed in all areas open to the public. Wildlife observation and photography are encouraged. There are two public boat ramps with launching and parking facilities. Fishing is allowed as per state regulations. Waterfowl hunting is permitted on the refuge in accordance with all state and federal regulations; special refuge hunting regulations also apply.

A variety of hardy mosquitoes thrive at Cedar Island almost year-round; insect repellant is a must.

Trails

The refuge has no formally designated trails, but visitors may hike along the refuge firebreaks and access roads. 

These firebreaks/access roads are located on bordering lands bordering the marsh and are unmarked, gravel surface. The 4 mile (one-way) “Cuddagan Creek Trail” can be accessed 9.2 miles south of the contact station on Highway 12. The “Wolves Den Trail” is located north of the contact station on the north side of highway 12 and is also an access road trail that is not marked. The “Refuge Trail” from the contact station travels 2 miles to Highway 12. There is a connector section off Lola Road.

Other Facilities in the Complex

A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location. Refuges are grouped into a complex  structure structure
Something temporarily or permanently constructed, built, or placed; and constructed of natural or manufactured parts including, but not limited to, a building, shed, cabin, porch, bridge, walkway, stair steps, sign, landing, platform, dock, rack, fence, telecommunication device, antennae, fish cleaning table, satellite dish/mount, or well head.

Learn more about structure
  because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs.  

There are 9 national wildlife refuges in the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges Complex. The Project Leader for the Complex supervises the Refuge Managers who are responsible for managing these refuges.  However, there are five distinct and separate administrative offices.  Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges are administered from the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Manteo, NC.  An administrative office at the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Knotts Island, NC manages both Mackay Island and Currituck National Wildlife Refuges. An office at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge administers Mattamuskeet, Swanquarter, and Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuges. Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and Edenton National Fish Hatchery each have separate administrative offices.

All of the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and Edenton National Fish Hatchery are open to public visits for nature-based recreational enjoyment. Priority public uses are hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, and interpretation.

Rules and Policies

Prohibited Activities

  • Camping
  • Littering
  • Swimming
  • All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
  • Molesting wildlife
  • Collecting plants, flowers, nuts, or berries
  • Jet skis and airboats are prohibited in the refuge canals.
  • Motorized vehicles are not allowed behind closed gates.
  • Boats may not be left on the refuge overnight.

Locations

Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge
879 Lola Road Cedar Island, NC 28520

Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, located in Carteret County, North Carolina is on the end of a peninsula marking the southern end of Pamlico Sound. NC Highway 12 passes through the refuge and is an excellent way to see the vast marshes and forests.

Driving Directions

From Beaufort, NC:

  1. Start out going east on Cedar St toward Live Oak St/NC-101.
  2. Cedar St becomes Live Oak St. In 2.50 miles
  3. Turn right onto Hwy 70 Beaufort/US-70 E. In 2.69 miles
  4. Turn right onto Hwy 70 Beaufort/Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E. Continue to follow US-70 E. In 6.45 miles
  5. Turn left onto US Highway 70 Smyrna/Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E. Continue to follow Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E. In 6.15 miles
  6. Turn left onto US Highway 70 Davis/Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E. Continue to follow Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E. In 8.21 miles
  7. Stay straight to go onto Cedar Island Rd/Outer Banks Scenic Byway/NC-12. In 8.32 miles
  8. Turn right onto Lola Rd. In 2.19 miles Contact Center is on the left.

 

To Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge Contact Station from Mattamuskeet NWR (Refuge Headquarters):

  1. Start out going northwest on Mattamuskeet Refuge Rd toward NC Highway 94/Alligator River Route/NC-94. In 1.39 miles
  2. Turn left onto NC Highway 94/Alligator River Route/NC-94. In 1.50 miles
  3. Turn right onto US Highway 264/Pamlico Scenic Byway/US-264 W. Continue to follow Pamlico Scenic Byway/US-264 W. In 33.56 miles
  4. Turn right onto W Main St/Pamlico Scenic Byway/US-264 W/NC-99. Continue to follow US-264 W. In 29.26 miles
  5. Turn left onto N Bridge St/US-17 Bus S. Continue to follow US-17 Bus S. In 4.45 miles
  6. Stay straight to go onto US Highway 17/US-17 S. Continue to follow US-17 S. In 31.23 miles
  7. Take the US-70 E exit, EXIT 417AB, toward Havelock/New Bern. In 0.36 miles
  8. Merge onto US-70 E via EXIT 417B on the left toward Havelock/Morehead City. In 17.13 miles
  9. Turn slight left onto Miller Blvd/NC-101. Continue to follow NC-101. In 16.12 miles
  10. Turn left onto Laurel Rd. In 2.27 mile
  11. Turn right onto Merrimon Rd. In 2.44 miles
  12. Turn left onto Hwy 70 Beaufort/Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E. Continue to follow US-70 E. In 6.43 miles
  13. Turn left onto US Highway 70 Smyrna/Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E. Continue to follow Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E.In 6.15 miles
  14. Turn left onto US Highway 70 Davis/Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E. Continue to follow Outer Banks Scenic Byway/US-70 E.In 8.21 miles
  15. Stay straight to go onto Cedar Island Rd/Outer Banks Scenic Byway/NC-12. In 8.32 miles
  16. Turn right onto Lola Rd. In 2.19 miles Contact Center is on the left.

 

Cedar Island can also be accessed by ferry from Ocracoke Island.

Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters
C/O Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge 85 Mattamuskeet Road Swan Quarter, NC 27885

Cedar Island NWR is administered from Mattamuskeet NWR.