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Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Eastern Shore Region

Wildlife/Family

Directions & Trail Description

Location: About 8 miles south of Ocean City, Maryland and 8 miles east of Berlin.

Length & Configuration: There are miles of biking trails on Assateague in both Maryland and Virginia.

Maryland: 4 miles of paved bike path; in Virginia: 7+ miles of paved road and trails, using interconnecting loops.

Terrain & Surface: Paved bike paths.

Technical Difficulty: Easy

Elevation change: None.

Caution: Ticks especially in early Spring. Mosquitoes and biting flies from mid-May to first frost. Insect repellent with DEET is essential. Rapid weather changes are common on Assateague, bring extra clothing on excursions. Hunting permitted in season.

 

 

 

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Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Trail Map

Note: The free trail maps on this website have been simplified to provide an overview with approximate locations of trails and special features. Read Full Disclaimer.

Directions:

Assateague State Park: Take MD Route 50 East to Route 113 South (to Berlin). Turn east on Route 376 and travel 4 miles to MD 611. Turn right and drive 5 miles to the Visitors Center. Park here and ride over the bridge to Assateague Island.

Assateague National Seashore & Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge:
There are two entrances to Assateague Island National Seashore. Assateague's north entrance is at the end of Route 611, eight miles south of Ocean City, MD. The south entrance is at the end of Route 175, two miles from Chincoteague, VA. There is no vehicle access between the two entrances on Assateague Island. Vehicles must return to the mainland to access either the north or south entrance.

 

General Description:

Trillions of grains of sand, eroded from Maryland's ancient Appalachian Mountains and deposited by the sea, have created the magical barrier island of Assateague.

The island consists of three major areas:

Assateague Island National Seashore:
Encompasses the entire island and adjacent bay areas, beginning just south of Ocean City, Maryland, and extending all the way down to Chincoteague, Virginia, some 37 miles long with the widest point being three miles accross.

Assateague State Park:
Managed by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service manages most of the remaining Maryland portion of the seashore.

Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge:
Virginia portion of the seashore, is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is world famous for its great abundance of migratory birds, wild ponies and undeveloped beaches, marshes and forests stretching from Virginia to Maryland.

Don't miss the Herbert H. Bateman Visitor and Administrative Center. This state-of-the-art facility boasts 5,000 square feet of exhibits, a 150 seat auditorium, and a classroom / wet lab. The center is fun and educational for families and wildlife enthusiasts of all ages. For guests with hearing impairments, there are 9 closed captioned videos.

Hiking and cycling trails, lighthouse tours, guided wildlife tours in air conditioned buses and exhibits are offered by the Park Service and Wildlife Refuge throughout the year. There are no food shops, snack bars, or restaurants on the National Seashore or Refuge, so if you're planning on spending a day at the beach, bring your own snacks and drinks.

Pets and alcoholic beverages are prohibited, even in your vehicle. Other regulations are in place to protect this natural resource. See Refuge website (contact info below) for details.

 

The Trails:

Biking on the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge offers many views of the island unable to be found anywhere else. There is a paved bike path leading from the town of Chincoteague to Assateague Island. The bridge over Chincoteague Inlet to the Wildlife Loop protects bike and pedestrian traffic from cars and provides a safe biking experience. Bicycle rentals are available seasonally in Chincoteague. Bicyclists entering at the Virginia portion of Assateague are not required to pay an entrance fee.

There are 15 miles of trails that wind through marshes and forest. About half the trails are paved while the rest are open to foot traffic only. Bicycles are permitted on trails and paved roads unless otherwise posted. Bicycling is not permitted on the beach.

 

Wildlife Loop: 3 1/4 miles
Loops around a fresh water impoundment and is a great place to observe wildlife, especially waterfowl and wading birds. It is always open to walkers and bikers but vehicles are only permitted to drive on it from 3:00 P.M. till dusk.

Woodland Trail: 1 1/2 miles
This 1 1/2 mile Woodland Trail takes hikers and bikers through a beautiful pine forest and leads to an overlook where you can sometimes see wild ponies.

Swan Cove Trail: 1 1/2 miles
Branches off of Wildlife Loop Trail and takes you to the beach.

Black Duck Marsh Trail: 1 mile
Branches off of Wildlife Trail and provides you with access to Woodland Trail. These two trails are only for walking and biking. Besides these trails foot access is permitted on the 7.5 mile service road. Access to the beach from this road is allowed.

 

Historical Note:

Take some time to hike and explore some of the Refuge's foot trails.

The Lighthouse Trail: 1/4 mile
Located near the Vistor Center, a foot path through the woods leads to the historic Assateague Lighthouse. Built in 1867, the 142-foot high Assateague Island Lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places. Owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, it is still used as an active aid in navigation. An internal spiral stairway leads up to the top for a bird's eye view of this windswept barrier island.

For hours and tour schedules, call or check in with the Visitors Center.

 

Chincoteague Pony Penning & Auction

On the Virginia side of Assateague Island, the wild ponies are owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. On the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July, thousands of spectators gather on Chincoteague Island to witness and participate in a tradition that has been held since 1925. On Wednesday, the Fire Company rounds up the entire "Chincoteague" pony herd for a swim across the Assateague Channel near Chincoteague Memorial Park (east side of island) at low tide for the Annual Pony Penning Carnival and Auction. Some foals and yearlings are sold at auction to benefit the town's ambulance and fire services.

Free shuttle services provided by the town usually starts running with two buses at 5 a.m., with others beginning at 7 a.m. The routes begin at Chincoteague High School on North Main Street.

 

 

For more information:

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
8231 Beach Road
Chincoteague, VA 23336

Phone: 757-336-6122
Website: Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

 

 

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