Virginia Seaside Water Trail - ESVA National Wildlife Refuge Launch Site

Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge

Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge Boat Ramp

Northampton County

Mud ramp on side of road with ample parking for 6 to 8 vehicles. Not usable at Low Tide, but acceptable at mid- to high-tide levels. Paddlers will have to be aware of power boat users and shallow spots in marsh. This is a great put-in as it provides all weather access to the water without exposing paddlers to a major waterway. This site is on the Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail...Check it out

Launch site owner:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - 757.331.2760

Directions to launch site:

  • From Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, go 0.5 miles north on US 13 to Route 600.
  • Turn Right on Route 600.
  • Turn right at entrance to Visitor Center and request directions to launch site.

GPS Coordinates:

+37.1278 / -75.9507


Beginner Paddler Routes:

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South Raccoon Island

Route Description:

Launch at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge boat ramp at Wise Point. Head to the right as you face the water. This will take you South down the Waterway Coast of Virginia (WCV) also known as the Virginia Inside Passage. Raccoon Island is on your left. Stay to one side or the other of the channel in order to avoid boat traffic. After you pass Channel Marker #267, stay to the left side of the channel. There is a beach at the Southern tip of Raccoon Island. You may land here September 16 through March 31, when there is no breeding bird activity. Please respect the wildlife in exploring this southern tip of the island. Paddle around the point of the island and continue along the shoreline. Be aware of the tidal flats that are exposed between Raccoon and Smith Islands at Low Tide. As you approach the section of Raccoon Island that contains a section of Maritime Forest dominated by Pine Trees, look for Raccoon Creek on your left. Turn Left into Raccoon Creek. Follow the main channel of the creek until you return to the WCV. Your launching point at Wise Point is just North of you across the channel.

Note: Until the main launch at Wise Point is available for public use, please check with the Refuge Staff for directions to and from the canoe and kayak launch in Wise Point Marsh.

Eastern Shore National Willdife Refuge - Beginner Route - South Raccoon

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North Raccoon Island

Route Description:

Launch at the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge boat ramp at Wise Point. Head to the left as you face the water. This will take you North up the Waterway Coast of Virginia (WCV). Raccoon Island is on your right. Stay to one side or the other of the channel in order to avoid boat traffic. After you pass Channel Marker #266, stay to the right side of the channel. Paddle around the point of the island and continue along the coast. Be aware of the tidal flats that are exposed between Raccoon and Smith Islands at Low Tides. As you approach the end of the part of Raccoon Island that contains a section of Maritime Forest dominated by Pine Trees, you will notice evidence of clam aquaculture activity along the coast. As you pass this aquafarm, look for Raccoon Creek on your right. Turn Right into Raccoon Creek. Follow the main channel of the creek until you return to the Virginia Inland Passage. Your launching point at Wise Point is just North of you across the channel.

Note: Until the main launch at Wise Point is available for public use, please check with the National Wildlife Refuge staff for directions to and from the canoe and kayak launch in Wise Point Marsh.

Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge - beginner route - North Raccoon


Intermediate Paddler Routes:

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Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge

Route Description:

Launch at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge boat ramp at Wise Point. Head to the right as you face the water. This will take you South down the Waterway Coast of Virginia (WCV). Raccoon Island is on your left. Stay to one side or the other of the channel in order to avoid boat traffic. After you pass Channel Marker #267, stay to the left side of the channel. There is a beach at the Southern tip of Raccoon Island. You may land here between September 16 and March 31 when there is no breeding bird activity. Please respect the wildlife in exploring this southern tip of the island. As you look south across the water you will see Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge. Pick a landmark directly across the channel and paddle toward it, taking special note to avoid any powerboat traffic and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Water flows quickly through this channel, and it may not be passable at all times. Once you have arrived at Fisherman Island, paddle into the large bay that abuts the roadway. To your East is a creek that runs into the interior of Fisherman Island. Please note that landing is not permitted at any point on the island due to its status as a wildlife refuge. The creek winds through the interior and branches several times. Be aware of your route and only explore as far as you are comfortable. You will return to the launch site by retracing your route. At Raccoon Island, you may wish to complete the Southern Raccoon Island route to return to the launch site.

Note: Until the main launch at Wise Point is available for public use, please check with the National Wildlife Refuge staff for directions to and from the canoe and kayak launch in Wise Point Marsh.

Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge - Intermediate Route - Fisherman Island

paddle imageMockhorn Island Wildlife Management Area

Route Description:

Launch at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge at Wise Point. Head to the left as you face the water. This will take you North up the Waterway Coast of Virginia (WCV). Raccoon Island is on your right. Stay to one side or the other of the channel in order to avoid boat traffic. As you pass Channel Marker #266, you will be able to see two watchtowers on Mockhorn Island. You will want to paddle toward the Southern tip of Mockhorn. The island is mostly low-lying marshes interspersed with maritime forest. The southern tip is located East of channel marker #261. As you paddle North along the coastline of Mockhorn Island, you can see the remnants of the old Mockhorn Hunt Club. Landing on the island is permitted, but the buildings are strictly off limits due to their hazardous nature. Camping is also permitted on Mockhorn Island at all high ground sites. Once you have explored the island, you will return to the launch site by retracing your route. You may also paddle West across Mockhorn Bay and follow the shoreline South until you reach the Wise Point Boat Ramp.

Note: Until the main launch at Wise Point is available for public use, please check with the National Wildlife Refuge staff for directions to and from the canoe and kayak launch in Wise Point Marsh.

Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge - intermediate route - Mockhorn


Advanced Paddler Route:

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Eastern Shore of VA National Wildlife Refuge to Oyster Harbor

Route Description:

Launch at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge at Wise Point. Head to the left as you face the water. This will take you North up the Waterway Coast of Virginia (WCV). Raccoon Island is on your right. Stay to one side or the other of the channel in order to avoid boat traffic. As you pass Channel Marker #266, you will be able to see two watchtowers on Mockhorn Island. You can either paddle over to Mockhorn Island or continue North along the mainland shoreline. If you paddle over to Mockhorn Island, you will need to return to the mainland shoreline after you paddle past the watchtowers. Continue North until reaching the channel for Oyster Harbor. Turn Left into the harbor and look for the public boat ramp on the North side of the harbor.

Note: Until the main launch at Wise Point is available for public use, please check with the National Wildlife Refuge staff for directions to and from the canoe and kayak launch in Wise Point Marsh.

Eastern Shore National Willdife Refuge - advanced route - ESNWR to Oyster

Back to Seaside Water Trail Launch Site Map

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All route maps provided on the Virginia Seaside Water Trail web site are for illustration only. They are not intended for navigational use. To obtain a nautical map for this route, visit NOAA navigation charts.

Please check the land ownership and visitation policies map before your trip! Virginia's barrier islands, wildlife refuges and state wildlife management areas contain very sensitive wildlife habitat. Seasonal or year-round closures are in effect.

TRAIL MAP KEY - Please review and take along with your trail route map.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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