Trails and Boardwalks

Left: Wildlife trail - USFWS. Right: Tubby Boardwalk - USFWS.

Visitors can view wildlife from 7 trails and boardwalks at the refuge, in addition to public refuge roads.  To protect wildlife and habitat, visitors are reminded that venturing off designated roads and trails is prohibited.  See our refuge map for trail locations (170 KB pdf).

Tundra Swan Boardwalk

NOTE: Tundra Swan Boardwalk is currently closed while a structural issue is assessed and repaired.

On the right as you cross over the bridge to Eastern Neck Island, you will find a universally-accessible boardwalk with two viewing scopes. This is a great place for viewing wintering waterfowl and for crabbing and fishing.

Boxes Point Trail

NOTE: Boxes Point Trail may be closed seasonally due to bald eagle nesting activity.

Park at the Tubby Cove parking area and walk back a short distance along the main road toward the entrance bridge. This broad trail begins along the border between the forest and marsh. The trail then bends to reveal an agricultural field on the right, where migratory Canada geese often gather in the fall and winter. From there the trail enters a forest of mixed evergreen and deciduous trees with a very open understory. The forest fades to marsh as the trail nears its terminus at Boxes Point. Waterfowl, including tundra swans, are often visible here in the late fall, winter, and early spring. Bald eagle sightings can be common from this point, particularly in the spring and early summer. The trail is 1.2 miles round-trip.

Tubby Cove Boardwalk

From the Tubby Cove kiosk and parking area, this wooden boardwalk extends over a healthy and diverse marsh to a wooded "island." Once on the island, the boardwalk passes through a stand of loblolly trees to two viewing platforms. The main path leads to an accessible viewing blind. A roughly-defined trail from the main path extends to an elevated viewing platform providing a look out over the Bay and into Calfpasture Cove and Tubby Cove. The boardwalk is less than 1/4-mile round-trip.

Duck Inn Trail

From Bogle's Wharf Rd., this trail begins in a wooded area dominated by loblolly pine and bordered by marshes, where evidence of previous prescribed fires is visible. This section of the trail is a good place to see migrating warblers and other songbirds in the spring. The trail then moves into a field of tall grasses and open marsh. Finally, the trail moves through an area of scattered loblolly pine and deciduous trees before terminating at the bank of the Chester River. Waterfowl may be visible here during late fall, winter, and early spring. The trail is one mile round-trip.

Wildlife Trail

This 1/2-mile loop trail begins and ends at a trailhead on the main refuge road. The trail never leaves the forest, although it passes close to wetlands in several places. A spur of the trail extends off the main path to a viewing blind overlooking a marsh. Songbirds are plentiful along this wooded trail, particularly during fall and spring migrations.

Bayview-Butterfly Trail

This universally-accessible trail extends through a restored grassland to a deck overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, complete with benches and free binocular viewers. The border of the trail has been planted with native plants to attract butterflies, particularly abundant during the summer. From the deck, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is visible, as is the Key Bridge in Baltimore on a clear day. Near the shore, distinct stone structures constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, known as "breakwaters," prevent shoreline erosion as waves from the Bay collide upon them. The trail continues through restored grassland and into the forest to an enclosed photo blind overlooking a pond. The trail then continues through the woods before turning back through a grassland to the parking lot. Be sure to also visit the beautiful BayScape garden adjacent to the parking lot, faithfully maintained by refuge volunteers!

Tidal Marsh Overlook Trail

Located behind the Headquarters/Visitor Center, this accessible boardwalk offers visitors a chance to meander through a native meadow to a photo blind overlooking the Chester River. In early morning, look for waterfowl and other water birds starting out their day in the pond just beyond the photo blind.

Eastern Neck Island Water Trail

This trail for paddlers encircles the refuge and connects scenic, historic and wetland restoration sites located around the island. The trail consists of seven points of interest including island loss, wetland restoration, historical locations, submerged aquatic vegetation beds, key wildlife viewing areas, hiking trails, and other recreation sites which contain interpretive wayside signs easily accessed and viewed by paddlers. The starting point for the water trail is at Bogle's Wharf.