At the trailhead parking, you may wish to pick up a brochure that explains a bit about the refuge, its habitat and wildlife. The paved path leads into a loblolly woods mixed with sweet gum, maples and an understory of the fragrant wax myrtle. Visitors find this a wonderful wildlife trail because the rewards are immediate. At 0.1 mile into the 0.3-mile hike, you'll see the habitat so favored by the migratory birdlife. As you sit on the contemplative bench and gaze out over the water, notice the three-square, bulrushes, and cattails. Also, notice the man-made nesting platform created for the resident osprey. The refuge has several of these platforms and each is occupied by the lifelong mating fish hawks. Another contemplative bench is found at 0.25 mile into the hike. Be sure to stop and look over to all the way to Barbados Island, a well-known nesting sight for the American bald eagle. As you continue on the path, a boardwalk eases the low-lying stretch. In addition to spotting egrets and herons, look for the South American native, the nutria. This is rodent somewhat larger than a muskrat and not particularly shy due to no known natural predators. They were brought to the United States during the early 1900s and now disturb wetlands up and down the East Coast by feeding on the roots of marsh plants, necessary feeding and nesting vegetation for birdlife. At about 0.35 mile, the paved path turns into a lovely soft-footed pine path, a welcome during the warm summer months. As the path narrows, it winds back to the parking lot.
Note: beyond the parking lot, an observation site rests at the end of the road. It's a great place for birding!
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 / Wildlife Drive is 1 mile past the visitor center. Continue 0.3 mile to reach Marsh Edge Trailhead parking. Various directional signs are located along the route.
Elevation: 5 feet
Elevation Gain: Minimal
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Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
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