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As with most trails, Wildlife Drive Loop may be done in whole or in part. Several parking areas allow for shorter excursions.

This trail begins from the Woods Trailhead parking lot about 1.5 mile past the refuge headquarters. The trail is paved the entire route, great for tour biking and wheelchairs.

When visiting Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge you'll be entering a fabulous world of wetlands that provide nurseries for fish, feeding areas for migrating birds, ducks, and geese, along with nesting sights for peregrine falcons, ospreys and bald eagles. Be sure to bring your binoculars! In total, 287 species of birds have been identified on the 23,000-acre refuge. Also, you'll be entering a zone where the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel still finds habitat necessary for survival.

From the parking lot of Woods Trail, head west along Wildlife Drive leaving the wooded region behind. As you cross the dike at 0.3 mile, notice the brackish waters on the left and the freshwater ponds on the right. The impoundment ponds are controlled bodies of water where refuge officials drop levels in summer to promote plant growth for the returning fall migrations. Look for long-legged waders in both areas. At 0.6 mile, you'll be rewarded with expansive views of the marshes. At certain times of the year, this is a prime spot for viewing terns, egrets, ducks, cormorants, geese and more. At 0.9 mile, you'll see a large man-made platform offshore. These platforms are for the resident osprey, once an endangered species but have made a successful comeback. These birds are quite large and quite active. Frequently, you'll see them soaring above head. Their crooked wings identify them. At a little over 1 mile, the road parallels woods comprised of oaks, red maple, sweet gum and loblolly pine. It is at this point that a short spur trail leads to one of the East Coast's best bald eagle sights. You'll reach a fork in the road at about 1.5 miles; continue straight ahead. This will lead to the intersection of Wildlife Drive and Key Wallace Drive. As you head eastbound on Key Wallace Drive, notice the division of habitats. This is a good spot for viewing red-tailed hawks, red-winged blackbirds, and the refuge's population of both white-tailed and sika deer. All four of these species enjoy open meadow yet want the security of woodlands. At 3 miles, Egypt Road intersects from the left. Proceed on Key Wallace Road as it bears southeast. You'll reach the entrance of Wildlife Drive at 3.3 miles. Proceed south another 0.4 mile to reach the spur road leading to Marsh Edge Trail, and an observation site at the end of the road. From here, Wildlife Drive carries you through a tall stand of loblolly pine and back to Woods Trail parking lot.

Directions: From Cambridge, MD, Travel U.S. Highway 50, turning south onto Route 16. Follow Route 16 about 7 miles to Church Creek and turn south on Route 335. Follow Route 335 about 4 miles and turn east on Key Wallace Drive. The visitor center is about 1 mile from the intersection and the headquarters is 1 mile past the visitor center. This is the beginning of Wildlife Drive Loop. Various directional signs are located along the route.

Elevation: 5 feet

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

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Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland

Visitor Information

The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.