Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


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Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

Here’s some photos from our trip to Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, near Suffolk, Va. If you’re out that way, check out the Plaid Turnip, a delicious restaurant in Suffolk! Here’s a Hampton’s Road article about it.

Nearly all the trails at the refuge were closed for bear and deer hunting season while we were there, so we stuck to the Washington Ditch Trail and the Boardwalk Trail for our exploring.

We, unfortunately, didn’t make it to Lake Drummond, which is 4 1/2 miles from the trail head.

This is a park I’ve wanted to visit a long time and this one day trip was a let down. But I hope to go back when we have more time to explore it.

We didn’t get to see too much wildlife, just some birds flitting about, including either a parakeet or flycatcher and some other walkers. Oh, and what is possibly bear scat. Does that count?


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Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge

On a recent trip to the Wheeling, W.Va., area, we stopped at two locations for the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge headquarters
On the way up, we stopped in Williamstown, W.Va, home of the refuge’s headquarters. There, you can find a visitor center with some exhibits and a few short trails, including a trail that’s 0.9 miles (with a 0.5 mile shorter loop).

You can’t get across to the islands at this location, but you can hike, hunt and fish. The refuge has 22 islands and three mainland tracts.

We had a nice picnic lunch under a shelter before heading out.

Here’s some pics:

This turtle has a pointy snout!

This is a washboard mussel. The visitor center had several examples of the mussels protected along the refuge’s riverbank.

A buckeye! People from Ohio are called Buckeyes, but after a nut, not this butterfly.

I’m standing beside the Ohio. One of the trails travels along the riverbank.

Middle Island
On our way back home, we stopped at Middle Island, which is located at St. Marys, W.Va.

This is the only island in the Ohio River Island National Wildlife Refuge you can visit.

We walked a 3.77 mile loop, but never saw a visitor center that I thought would be at the top of the loop.

Here’s some pics:

Things to do nearby
While in Williamstown, visit the town’s wetlands. It’s just up the road from the refuge and is a new, short trail located in the middle of town.

Here’s some pics:

Williamstown is also home to the Fenton Glass Factory, which you can tour, and the Henderson Hall Plantation.

Chris enjoyed seeing how the town was built around the railroad. Get out and walk around town to check out the buildings and see how homes and businesses were built near and around the tracks.

While in Willimastown, we saw lots of locally-owned businesses and wilfdlife:
birds: goldfinches, pigeons, ducks, sandpiper-type bird
butterflies: sulphurs, buckeyes, whites, red spotted purples, monarch or viceroy
dragonflies
Some more photos:
A dragonfly at the Ohio River Islands refuge.
There was so much algae, this bird was able to walk on the water at the wetlands. I think this is a type of sandpiper.
A dragonfly at the wetlands.

Ducks at the wetlands.

I think this is a viceroy, but it could be a monarch.

Williamstown is also across the river from Marietta, Ohio. Chris wanted to visit, but we didn’t have any time to stop. In and around Marietta, there’s a lot of Underground Railroad sites.

You can’t see it here, but there’s a sign along the bank that says “Marietta.”


Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

On our return trip stop in Savannah, we went to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in Hardeeville, S.C.

There’s a 4-mile wildlife drive in this refuge and lots of birds and alligators can be seen in the water and shore.

It was a very cold day so the few alligators we saw weren’t very active.

Chris about missed this guy floating in the water./All photos by Christopher Brooke
Do not reprint or use without permission.

We did see lots of birds though.

Park rangers said we could get out and walk along the levees in the park, but we didn’t do that. We just stuck to the road and drove around taking photos of what wildlife we did see.

Oh, and fishing is allowed. Here’s a couple of men (way in the distance) braving the cold and pending rain:

The refuge is former rice fields that are now used as freshwater wetlands for wildlife. Driving around the refuge you can still see water control structures, which are used to control the water.

Although it was cold and windy, it was a nice refuge to visit.

You can reach the refuge from Savannah by driving north of U.S. 17 for 7 miles.