Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is a more than 100,000-acre refuge on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula in Washington, Hyde, and Tyrrell Counties in eastern North Carolina. The refuge includes Pungo Lake and Lake Phelps as well as the surrounding pocosins. Pocosin, a Native American word meaning "swamp on a hill", or southeastern shrub bog is characterized by dense broadleaf evergreen shrubs and scattered pine trees. The Pungo Unit, including its namesake lake was established as a 12,000-acre refuge in 1963. In 1990, the Pungo Unit was merged with a 90,000-acre donation of land to form Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
One of the highlights of the refuge is Pungo Lake, which supports an extremely large number of migratory waterfowl, including tundra swans and snow geese. There are a number of observation points to view the waterfowl. Many of the refuge roads are seasonally closed and others are permanently closed to vehicular traffic. As these roads may or may not show up on Google Maps or GPS, it is highly recommended to bring a refuge map that shows what roads to drive or you may find yourself lost. The Pungo Lake Observation Platform and Charles Kuralt Trail Site is located at the southern end of the lake. The elevated platform provides a great view of the lake and its inhabitants. A kiosk indicates the Charles Kuralt Trail, which connects a number of refuges in eastern North Carolina visited by the famous journalist. The Pungo Lake Observation Point is a photo blind at at the end of the half-mile Duck Pen Wildlife Trail. The photo blind provides an opportunity to get a little closer the wildlife without being seen. Remember to be as quiet as possible so as to not disturb the birds.
Other wildlife in the refuge includes black bears and red wolves. The endangered red wolf has been re-introduced to the area. They are very elusive and there is almost no chance of seeing one. However, you may hear some howling! Black bears are a fairly common sight along the refuge roads. They are generally afraid of humans and will flee if they hear, see, or smell people. But it's an good place to get an easy photo from the car. Do not under any circumstances feed the bears or try to lure them. This is both illegal and very unsafe.
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