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“Thousands of Birds on Pungo Lake” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
399 reviews
257 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 712 helpful votes
“Thousands of Birds on Pungo Lake”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 2, 2014

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.

Visited December 2013
5 Thank jmpncsu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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30 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Windsor, NC
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Incredibly beautiful”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 25, 2013

Easy to visit. So quiet and beautiful. Birds everywhere. I am not a birder but for those birders who stay at my Inn in Windsor, this is a favorite spot. I always send them to this area.

Visited January 2013
Thank Lynette449
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Wonderful Humbling Experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 24, 2013

Took the birding tour through Friends of the Pocosin Wildlife Refuge, which started promptly at 6:30 AM. About 10 of us packed into a large van to make the rounds of seeing Tundra Swan and other birds. First stop was the main observation deck where we remained for about 40 minutes. It was deathly cold but worth the thrill of hearing and seeing first the geese as they left the water to venture out into farming fields. Then swans took flight. I got about 4gb of videos and pictures. We were in stunned silence for most of this. Some people has large cameras with long lens while others had a simple canon. The sunrise was also stunning as it rose above the horizon. Being in the van felt a little small for but at least we were warm. We made other stops but one particular stop along farmland exposed us to immature eagles and falcons as they aimed for pray. Again we were silent and amazed. Everything about this trip was grand. People, frozen but happy to see the wilds of eastern NC, playing witness to the rare migratory bird. After the tour ended around 10:30, I went out on my own to see more of the refuge. There are many who do this and just about all of those I met were informative with the bear they just saw and the like. The morning tours can be a challenge to get if you live several hours away. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Plymouth the night before and it was okay. I had a room in the back and you could hear dogs barking but no big deal. I bring a small fan on overnight trips to create white noise and block out distractions. You will want to do the same if stay there.
Pocosin was so beautiful I decided to stay a second night and do the birding tour on my own the following morning. I was able to see these natural events 2 mornings in a row and I am changed for it all. Eastern NC has a rich history fully endorsed by the wonderful migratory birds that visit us annually. Go and be amazed.

Visited January 2013
5 Thank Mary S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tarboro, North Carolina
Level Contributor
19 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Gorgeous, beautiful... nature in the raw.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 9, 2012

Worth a trip, and be certain to pack what you need.
Canoe, hiking, photography, fishing. Something for everyone.

Thank CarolinaAngler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“There is a bear over there”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 7, 2012

So exciting! Last year my family went on the evening bear tour sponsored by Friends of the Pocosin Lakes NWR. We saw 17 bears on the tram tour. The tram stopped so we could take pictures. It was amazing. On the trip were 2 people from the Muesum of Natural Sciences so we learned alot. It is very dusty. We were covered in dust. They give you painters masks but make sure to have protective eye wear. I would also bring a change of clothes for your car ride home. It's worth the dirt!

Visited September 2012
1 Thank EllieHun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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