2145 Key Wallace Dr
Land Trails at Blackwater
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge currently has four land trails: the Marsh Edge Trail, the Woods Trail, the Key Wallace Trail, and the Tubman Road Trail, which are all open from dawn to dusk every day.
The Marsh Edge Trail is the only trail that is paved, and it is wheelchair and stroller friendly (see note below). Also please remember that no pets are allowed on any of the trails; this policy is to protect the endangered ground-feeding Delmarva fox squirrel.
Tips for those using the trails: Anyone who comes during warm weather is advised to bring insect repellent. Also, the three unpaved trails can get soggy in wet weather, so visitors should wear appropriate footwear if it's been raining. Finally, during the fall hunting season, the Key Wallace Trail may be closed periodically for safety reasons.
Read on for details about the main features of each trail. And for further information, look for trail brochures at the trailheads or at the Refuge Visitor Center.
(Note: This trail is closed during eagle nesting season due to an eagle pair nesting near the parking lot.)
The Marsh Edge Trail can be found by turning left at the first fork on the Wildlife Drive. This trail is the most popular at Blackwater Refuge because it runs along the scenic Little Blackwater River and Blackwater River and also because it is paved for the entire 1/3-mile length. The trail contains a covered picnic area, benches, and an observation boardwalk that juts out into the river. From the trail, visitors can see an osprey platform in the water, and during nesting season (from March through September) there are likely to be ospreys in or near the nest. Bald eagles can sometimes be seen perched in the nearby trees or on islands that are visible from the trail. If visitors are lucky, they might see eagles or ospreys fishing in the shallow rivers.
Read our Marsh Edge Trail brochure (631KB PDF file) for more information about what is on the trail. Visitors can also get a trail brochure at the trailhead or at the Visitor Center.
The 1/2-mile Woods Trail offers visitors an opportunity to see the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. Blackwater Refuge is home to the largest remaining natural population of this squirrel in the country. The Woods Trail is an area that is managed to provide habitat for the endangered squirrel, which prefers a mature forest with little undergrowth. In spring, these wet woods are alive with the calls of mating tree frogs and toads, as well as numerous songbirds.
Visitors can access the Woods Trail from the Wildlife Drive (the first right after the observation blind).
The Key Wallace Trail and Demonstration Forest provides visitors with a chance to observe forest management techniques, as well as wildlife and birds. Cornelius "Key" Wallace was the fourth manager of Blackwater Refuge; he served with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1942 to 1968, and he was instrumental in attracting more migratory waterfowl to the Refuge. Over one-third of Blackwater Refuge is forest, and the trail property includes some of the largest mature tracts on the Delmarva Peninsula. Much of the forest management at the Refuge is directed at increasing habitat for forest-interior dwelling birds and the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. Protected forests at the Refuge are a vital haven for local wildlife as more land around Blackwater Refuge is given over to development.
The Key Wallace Trail and Demonstration Forest is at the intersection of Key Wallace Drive and Egypt Road (see map), near the entrance to the Wildlife Drive. The Key Wallace Trail is approximately 2.7 miles long and takes about two hours to hike. The trail is divided into two sections marked as yellow and blue. The yellow section is 1.4 miles long and the blue section is 1.3 miles long. Note that during hunting season, one or both sections of the trail may be closed for safety reasons.
Read our Key Wallace Trail brochure (840KB PDF) for more information about what is on the trail. Visitors can also get this brochure at the trailhead or at the Visitor Center.
The Tubman Road Trail is named after an old dirt road which comprises a portion of the trail. This road was once one of the main access routes to this part of the county. The Tubman name is most often associated with Civil War hero Harriet Tubman, who is thought to have been born near this area. Tubman became a "conductor" of the Underground Railroad, which helped many slaves escape to freedom during the Civil War era.
The Tubman Road Trail is a 1.5-mile-long trail that uses new paths and existing access roads as it takes visitors through mixed pine and hardwood forests, sloughs and marshes, and reforested fields. The trail also includes an area that is still recovering from a tornado that blew through in 2002.
The Tubman Road Trail is located off Hip Roof Road, south of the Visitor Center (see map). The trail takes around 1.5 hours to complete. Yellow trail markers and arrows will help keep you on the path.
Read our Tubman Road Trail brochure (2.5MB PDF) for more information about what is on the trail. Visitors can also get this brochure at the trailhead or at the Visitor Center.