The Mattaponi Bluffs Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was officially opened to the public on April 11, 2019. Mattaponi Bluffs is located in the north-central portion of Caroline County, in the Upper Coastal Plain and located between Athens and Penola. The land is a contiguous tract of steep bluffs and wetlands, somewhat typical of the surrounding topography adjacent to the Mattaponi River. The WMA features a diverse set of plant communities and habitats and is an excellent location to pursue wildlife and angling activities.
The Mattaponi Bluffs WMA is 470 acres and conserves important upper coastal plain wildlife habitat, providing quality wildlife-related recreation. Forests are predominantly mixed upland hardwoods with some wetland and bottomland forests as well. The property borders the Mattaponi River for approximately 1.5 miles.
The diverse forests and wetlands of Mattaponi Bluffs provide abundant habitat for many of the game species found in central Virginia. The mature forests support good populations of deer, turkey, and squirrel and in recent years, black bears have become more common on the area. A wetlands complex associated with the Mattaponi River provides opportunities for duck hunting and woodcock found in the bottom lands and wetter forested sites.
The Mattaponi River supports a good fishery throughout much of its length, including the section of river adjacent to Mattaponi Bluffs. Bluegill and redbreast sunfish, chain pickerel, bowfin and brown bullheads are common as well as smaller-sized largemouth bass. The spring run of white and yellow perch can make for exciting ultra-light fishing.
Wildlife enthusiasts will find viewing opportunities on the Mattaponi Bluffs WMA, especially along the 1.5 miles of Mattaponi river frontage. Bald Eagles, Osprey and Blue Herons are common and the forests provide critical habitats for many migratory warblers. Interior wetland habitats provide opportunities for viewing wading birds and amphibians.
The Mattaponi Bluffs WMA is near Penola Road (Rt. 601), 2.6 miles west of Penola Road and 1 mile east of Athens in Caroline County at the intersection with Sutton Lane. Sutton Lane is located at 20500 Penola Road. The entrance to the WMA is approximately 0.75 miles from the intersection, north on Sutton lane. The WMA is located approximately 30 miles north of Richmond and 28 miles south of Fredericksburg.
Images by: Meghan Marchetti - DGIF