Northern Neck Real Estate: Southern Style and Charm

Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge Valley - Hutchinson Unit

Posted on Fri, Sep 04, 2015 @ 10:23 AM

The Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge Valley was established for land conservation and to protect wildlife and fish resources including the bald eagle.

The RWRV has a unit located just north of Tappahannock, Virginia known as the Hutchinson Tract and consists of 727 acres along Mount Landing Creek. This tract contains 1.5 miles of accessible wildlife viewing trails (but you can get a demanding five mile walk—more on that later).  It also has a fishing pier, observation decks and seating located throughout the trails, a canoe/kayak launch (I’ve used it many times), and interpretive signs to help educate the reader about wildlife, birds, conservation and the refuge. 


I ran across the refuge (literally) by accident when I joined a small, local church running club several years ago.  My first run was this group was through the refuge.   I knew there was a refuge just north of Tappahannock, but I didn’t know that anyone could walk, fish, bird watch, kayak, or picnic in the refuge.  I wasn’t really sure what a refuge was or did.  I can now say, five years later, that I have learned so much and now have a deep appreciation for our local refuge and what they do to educate the public and keep this piece of land pristine for all to enjoy. The upkeep is primarily done by volunteers.  I've seen several senior citizens cutting grass, weeding, removing limbs, picking up trash and countless other jobs.  I try to do my small part by picking up any trash in my line of vision.


I had a few rough years when I would seek solace and refuge in the refuge (funny, right?) by walking and running 6-10 miles a day during my twice daily visits to the Hutchinson Tract.  I would go at sunrise and again at sunset.  The beauty of both the sunrise and sunset combined with the natural beauty of the wild grasses, the bunnies, herons, osprey, deer, and the color palettt of the sky that only God could create slowly breathed life back into my weary soul. 

Back to that five mile hike I mentioned earlier, you can get a healthy hike/walk/run through the Hutchinson Tract.  Simply start on the designated trails, near the parking area, winding along Mount Landing Creek and keep on walking and winding your way along the trails.  You may see a bald eagle, beaver or even an albino deer (TRUE STORY).  When you come out of the designated trails you end up on the bypass. Go to the end and hang a right.  This will take you up a MONSTER of a hill!  When I first started my jaunts in the refuge I would have to climb parts of this hill on my hands and feet.  It’s that steep and I was that out of shape.   When you crest the top and scale the fence (if you want to scale the fence) you will be at Mount Landing Road.  And now you have to turn around and make it back to your car.  It’s a great workout on the fitness meter. 


Kayaking and canoeing from the refuge is easy and delightful.  They provide a parking area and a metal ramp for quick ingress and egress to the creek.  Once you cast off to the left you can paddle your way up into small inlets and see the many beaver houses erected.  If you’re lucky you’ll get see to see a few of these little guys swimming around.  If you’re brave then you can go right and enter the Rappahannock River.  When I choose this direction I stay close to the shore and out of the way of the big boats.  I haven’t gathered the courage to go across the Rappahannock to the Richmond County side, but one of these days I’m going to do it.


Bunnies! Bunnies!  Bunnies!  I have never seen so many bunnies gathered in one place as I have in the refuge.  It sort of reminds me of Watership Down with the multitudes of bunnies—even the sad part when they do the controlled burn.  These cute, fuzzy, little creatures appear to be fairly used to the human species trekking back and forth and don’t always dart off.  You can get up close to many of them by walking slowly while speaking in a soft voice before they decide that you are indeed bigger and run for cover.

I’ve also run into a skunk family.  The mama and her babies showed no fear, .they would waddle around, rubbing their noses in the grass on the side of the road and just stare at me.  I would, of course, make my way to the opposite side of road just in case mama decided to spray me, but she never did.  Oh, you can often find turtle nests in the spring on Macgruder Loop.  I’ve seen their nests and evidence of their hatchings, but so far I’ve missed the big moment.  Maybe next year. 

In the fall, when the leaves change, reminds me that there are seasons in life as well as in the weather.  Again, God’s vibrant palett in both the sky and foliage fills your senses with a great appreciation for the beauty and simple peace offered in the refuge. 


I haven’t even touched on the marsh grasses, flowers and indigenous plants located throughout the refuge.  You’ll have to go see for yourself. It's worth the drive from anywhere in the Northern Neck or Middle Peninsual area.  The Hutchinson Tract is one of my favorite places on earth.  I hope you enjoy it as much I as I do. 


 For a map of the Hutchinson Tract click here. 



Topics: Northern Neck Adventures

Tappahannock Farmers Market Information

Posted on Wed, Apr 08, 2015 @ 12:43 PM


Tappahannock Farmer's Market

The Tappahannock Main Street Program, the Town of Tappahannock and Essex County have planned a series of monthly Farmers’ Markets located in historic downtown Tappahannock. The markets will be held from 9-1 pm on the third Saturday of each month starting April and running through November.

The Markets will feature: vegetables and fruits; meats and seafood; garden plants and accessories; bread and baked goods; home made crafts and fine arts; and an assortment of restaurant and food vendors, as well as, music by local performers.

The Markets will be located on two blocks of Cross Street between Queen, Prince and Duke Street and on Fountain Green, right in the center of historic downtown Tappahannock.

The 2020 dates are:

May 16

June 20

July 18

August 15  
September 19

October 17

November 21

Come enjoy some hometown hospitality every 3rd Saturday. Each month features live entertainment and the produce changes with the season. Guaranteeing no two Saturdays will be the same!

Topics: About the Northern Neck, Northern Neck Activities, Northern Neck Adventures, About the Middle Peninsula

Give Thanks!

Posted on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 09:59 AM

As Thanksgiving approaches, it's only appropriate to say what we can be thankful for on the Northern Neck:

Four Seasons:

 It's no coincidence that thousands of people decide to retire in the Northern Neck. The mild climate gives the Northern Neck four full seasons and in each season, a new beauty. Whether you're on the shore to watch a summer sunset, driving through the fields at harvest time, cozied up in a winter snow storm, or smelling the first blooms of Spring. The seasons aren't too long and they're not too extreme.
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I'm thankful for four seasons.

The Water:

The weather is great but most people are attracted to the Northern Neck because of the water. There are several aspects to the thousands of miles of coastline that we can be thankful for: beautiful bridges, marshland that provides habitat to hundreds of species of wildlife, boating, beaches, and spectacular views.
Water on the Northern Neck
I'm thankful for the water.


The mixture of brackish river water and fresh inland water makes the Northern Neck unique in it's array of wildlife. It's not unusual to see deer and turkey in the evenings or possum and raccoons at night. Occassionally you might get a glimpse of a fox or coyote but you'll always see the turkey vulchers scavanging for their next meal. At water's edge, you have the chance to see herron, eagles, and other water fowl as you watch fish jump at bugs on the water. You may also get the chance to see falcons dive in the water after fish. Wildlife is definitely thriving on the Northern Neck! 

   deer northern neck
I'm thankful for Wildlife.

Small Towns:

The Northern Neck has one town (Colonial Beach) with a population over 2,000 people (3,500). These small towns thrive by showing genuine hospitality to visitors to the area. From Farmer's Markets to Festivals to Fairs; these small towns have the home town feel irreplaceable to residents. One unique aspect of the towns here is that there is an emphasis on retirees and vacationers. So there are shops, restaurants, golf courses, and other ammenities specific to tourists and retirees. 

I'm thankful for small towns.

At this time of year we can all take a moment to recognize the things we're thankful for and find ways to express that gratitude. Living in a free land with great weather, water, wildlife and towns makes the Northern Neck one of the best places to live! 

Topics: About the Northern Neck, Northern Neck Activities, Northern Neck Adventures, Northern Neck Waterfront Properties, Planning

What's in the water of the Rappahannock River? Crab!

Posted on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

Crab, specifically Blue Crab, is a staple of life on the Northern Neck. Residents all along the Rappahannock River take great pride in the food sources provided by the river. If you take a boat trip down the Rappahannock River and visit some of it's many tributaries, you'll definitely find crab fishing. Crab are harvested commercially but many of the pots and traps serve as a hobby/food source to river residents.


Similar to Oysters, external factors such as fertilizer, harvesting, and drainage has led to a reduced population of crab. Fisherman are some of the biggest supporters of protecting crab in the Rappahannock and Cheasapeake as they depend on healthy populations to support their livelyhood. Extensive efforts by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and non-profit organizations have put in place legislation and grants to support the overall health of the rivers that drain into the Cheasapeake Bay to preserve the rich habitat it provides.

'Picking' crab is a fun, unique experience that helps us appreciate what the tidal waters provide. Many people are apprehensive about being able to eat a crab. If you don't know, or are unsure about how to eat them, it can be a frustrating, long process that doesn't satisfy your appetite. There are youtube videos that will help you get the most meat out of a crab below is just one of many:


Whether you like to eat crab or just like the Northern Neck culture, crab are a favorite to the lives of residents on the Rappahannock.

Topics: About the Northern Neck, Northern Neck Activities, Northern Neck Adventures, About the Middle Peninsula

What's in the water of the Rappahannock River? Oysters!

Posted on Fri, Nov 07, 2014 @ 09:17 AM

Did you know there is more in the Rappahannock River than just fish? The rivers and tributaries throughout the Northern Neck drain directly into the Chesapeake Bay. These tidal waters give life to a wide range of creatures and organisms, one of those creatures is the Oyster!

Oysters play a critical role in the health and habitat of the other creatures. Oysters help filter the microbes and other organisms floating in the water acting like a natural filter (similar to how a pool filter works). They also provide an important economic role for fisherman because they keep the water healthy for fish and oysters are harvested annually. Over-harvesting has led to both murkier water and stricter regulations for fishermen.

Bay 101: Oysters from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo.

Oysters are a popular 'delicacy' on the Northern Neck. Restraunts up and down the Northern Neck take great pride in making delicious oysters the highlight of there menu. Though fresh Oysters are seasonal (late Summer to Fall).

Located on the Rappahannock River, the town of Urbanna hostes its annual Urbanna Oyster Festival in early November. Events include Arts, Crafts, Parade, Oyster Shucking Contest, Wine Tasting, Antique Car Show, and of course... Oysters. For more information, see Urbanna Oyster Festival on the web.


Topics: About the Northern Neck, Northern Neck Adventures, About the Middle Peninsula