Frequently asked questions

How much land was protected?


1,770 acres was purchased in April 2008 (Phase I). 1,102 acres were added in July 2009 for a total of 2,872 acres.




Why was Crow’s Nest purchased by the state and county?


Crow’s Nest has long been a conservation priority for local citizens and the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Natural Heritage Program. It is a large and complex conservation project that required the negotiation and financial partnership of Stafford County, DCR, The Nature Conservancy, Northern VA Conservation Trust, Trust for Crow’s Nest and others. It is an intact, historical and environmental treasure that protects habitat for native plants and animals. With its minimal but outstanding public access facilities, it provides a unique opportunity for visitors to experience wildness in a part of Virginia more commonly associated with urban sprawl.




How can I get in to visit?


A 20-space parking area located along Brooke Road provides access to a ½-mile-long walking trail along the north shore of Accokeek Creek with viewpoints of the tidal marsh and great wildlife-watching opportunities. The Brooke Road Access serves as the trailhead for the Crow’s Nest Water Trail. A hand-carry boat launch consists of a 375-foot pier and floating canoe/kayak launch platform. In April 2017, the Raven Road Access point opened to the public, featuring a 1.5-mile long single-lane gravel entrance road with turn-outs that leads to an 18-space parking area. Located here are trailheads, maps, and interpretive signs for four different marked hiking trails offering varied opportunities for quiet walks and wildlife viewing within the extensive old-age hardwood forests of the Crow’s Nest peninsula. The Raven Road Access point is open on Thursdays thru Sundays, year-round. Open hours for both the Brooke Road and Raven Road access points are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from November 1 to March 14; and, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from March 15 to October 31. DCR will continue to offer focused field trips (e.g., birding, wildflowers, big trees, colonial history, etc.) for smaller groups by request and as staff are available.




Now that the land is a publicly-owned “natural area”, there won’t be any hunting, right?


Not true. DCR conducts managed waterfowl hunts (by lottery) each year at Crow’s Nest in order to comply with the Virginia Waterfowl Blind Laws. Thus, the public waters surrounding Crow’s Nest are hunted under controlled conditions, once per week during the fall/winter waterfowl seasons. This approach balances use by hunters with use of the preserve by the non-hunting public, and gives migratory waterfowl a place to rest and feed, undisturbed for six days a week, during their annual migration south. Managed deer hunting may be conducted in the future at Crow’s Nest as it becomes clear through monitoring that deer are causing negative impacts to native vegetative communities.




What is a state natural area preserve? Is that like a park?


The Virginia Natural Area Preserve System was established by law in 1989 to protect and conserve natural heritage resources (habitats of rare plants and animals; exemplary natural communities; other rare natural features) throughout the state. This system of protected lands is administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and managed by the Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Area Preserve Dedication, in accordance with the Code of Virginia, offers strong levels of protection by placing privately and publicly held natural areas into a legally established statewide preserve system with statutory protection against most forms of condemnation and conversion to other land uses. Unlike state parks, public access and recreation facilities on state natural area preserves are secondary to the primary objective of resource protection. Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve is Virginia’s 54th preserve, dedicated on April 18, 2008.




Can I paddle my canoe/kayak to get to the preserve?


Yes, but with restrictions. Paddlers using the Crow’s Nest Water Trail may launch their canoe or kayak at the Brooke Road access point and paddle four miles by water to Boykin’s Landing. There, they can beach their boats and hike the trails at Crow’s Nest. Currently, Boykin’s Landing is the only designated and safe location for paddlers to gain access to the Crow’s Nest peninsula.