Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Hiking Review

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Hiking Review
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Park Information

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Trail Map
Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Home Page


Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge
13950 Dawson Beach Road
Woodbridge, VA 22191


7am – 7pm
(April to September)
7am – 5pm
(March to October)

Entrance Fee


The Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located at 13950 Dawson Beach Road in Woodbridge, VA. It is a one square mile refuge and is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and was established in 1989. There is a $2.00 park entrance free. The refuge helps support animals such as the American bald eagle, fox, osprey, North American river otter and the American Woodcock. The refuge is made up of grasslands, wetlands and woodlands.

The History

John Smith (Admiral of England) explored this area and when he got here, he found a Dogue Indian village. The land was made up of fields that could be farmed making it a great area to live in. Through the 1950s to the ’70s, the US Army took over the land and used it for radio transmitting as well as electromagnetic pulse testing. In June of 1989, the area was taken over by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and called the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge helps upland nesting birds, migrating wildlife, habitat diversity and environmental diversity.

The Trails

The refuge offers 4 miles of trails for hiking and walking along. The best trail (Deephole Point Road) runs along the Occoquan Bay and Potomac River. As you hike along the Bay, you’re also hiking along the wetlands. I actually went into the wetlands for some photos and that is where I found the eagle and the turkey. The hiking trails are all named roads for the refuge vehicles but only foot traffic is allowed. I found the trails to be wide, clean and easy to read trail markers.

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Hiking Trails Include:

  • Lake Drive
  • Deephole Point Road
  • Fox Road
  • Bayview Road
  • Charlie Road
  • Delta Road
  • Easy Road


There is a lot of wildlife in the refuge. On my visit, I came upon fox holes & paw prints, turtle, turkey, osprey and a bald eagle in its nest. I was surprised at the small amount of hiking but the number of wildlife you’ll see while out here. I always suggest that the best times to view wildlife is at dusk or dawn when they come out to feed. It can make for some great wildlife photos. Here is a list of some of the animals you can see while visiting:

  • Great horned owl
  • Bald eagle
  • Osprey
  • Turtle
  • Red fox
  • Whitetail deer
  • Turkey
  • Cardinal
  • Migrating wildlife

The Hiking

My visit to the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge was on a day that the temperature didn’t get out of the 30s. I did have a good time and saw a bald eagle and wild turkey. I also found a number of fox holes in the area with prints everywhere and some fur on the ground too. I look forward to coming back in the Spring when it’s much warmer than it was today. Overall, I suggest checking this refuge out in the warmer months. There are winds coming off the Bay and when it’s in the ’30s, it’s not the most enjoyable time being out! Still, a great day of great photos and I was out hiking, so no complaining from me.


I visited in June of 2015 and was eaten alive by horseflies. Make sure you bring bug spray. I like and use Cutter Backwoods Insect Repellent as it seems to work the best on other trails I’ve hiked. I forgot to bring any on this day. It also very hot as I hiked this on a 90+ degree day. There are some areas of shade on the trails but for the most part I spent hiking in the sun. There are benches along the trails if you need to sit and take a break. The benches are positioned at nice lookout points along the river.

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Hiking Suggestions

  • A bottle of water
  • Sunscreen (Seasonal)
  • Wear good hiking boots or shoes
  • A camera
  • Bug spray (Ticks, Horseflies & Mosquito’s)


Chris spends his time photographing and taking video of wildlife and nature. He spent 2 years in high school studying forestry (Gainesville, FL) and is currently studying to be an Advanced Master Naturalist at the University of Florida. His mission is to inspire others to get outside and learn.