Trails

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.

Please see the Trails Page for detailed descriptions of our trails.

Trails are open daily, dawn to dusk. The Marsh Edge Trail is closed from mid-winter through mid-summer to limit disturbance to nesting eagles and herons. During the fall hunting season, the Key Wallace Trail and Tubman Road Trail may be closed periodically for deer management.

Tips for those using the trails: From April to October, poison ivy is common along the trails. Although the young leaf buds and white berries are valuable food for birds, rabbits, and deer, the plant’s oils can cause a red, itchy rash in humans. Remember the saying, “leaves of three, let it be.” Biting insects are present from mid-April through late September. Protective clothing and insect repellent are recommended. Also, the three unpaved trails can get soggy in wet weather, so visitors should wear appropriate footwear if it has been raining.

Please remember that pets are not permitted on trails, even if on a leash.  Pets must remain in vehicles while on the Wildlife Drive.

Tubman Road Trail

Although not directly related to the well-known "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, who is thought to have been born near this area, the1.5-mile-long Tubman Road Trail is named after an old dirt road which comprises a portion of the trail and was once one of the main access routes to this part of the county. It takes visitors through mixed pine and hardwood forests, sloughs and marshes, and reforested fields. The Tubman Road Trail is located off Hip Roof Road, south of the Visitor Center. The trail takes around 1.5 hours to complete. Yellow trail markers and diamond-shaped tree markers with arrows will help keep you on the path. Dress appropriately because this trail is often wet.
Trail Length (mi)
1.52
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Estimated Time
90 Minutes
Route Type
Lollipop
Trail Activities
Birding
Photography
Wildlife watching
View Trail

Key Wallace Trail

The Key Wallace Trail provides visitors with a chance to observe a timber stand improvement area, as well as wildlife and birds. Portions of the trail pass through some of the oldest trees on the refuge. The trailhead is located at the intersection of Key Wallace Drive and Egypt Road. The Key Wallace Trail is approximately 2.75 miles long and takes about two hours to hike. Please Note: The section of trail that takes you past posts 6 and 7 is currently closed and can be bypassed. Also, during hunting season, one or both sections of the trail may be closed for safety reasons.
Trail Length (mi)
2.49
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Moderate
Estimated Time
120 Minutes
Route Type
Lollipop
Trail Activities
Birding
Photography
Wildlife watching
View Trail

Woods Trail

The Woods Trail, with 1/4, 1/2, and 1 mile loops, offers visitors an opportunity to see the endangered Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel. Blackwater Refuge is home to the largest remaining natural population of these squirrels 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. The Woods Trail also features the mangled remains of a Peerless steam boiler, which exploded violently while it was powering a portable sawmill in the 1920s. The wreckage serves as a reminder of the past uses of the land at the refuge. Visitors can access the Woods Trail from the Wildlife Drive (the first right after the photo blind).
Trail Length (mi)
0.87
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Estimated Time
45 Minutes
Route Type
Loop
Trail Activities
Birding
Photography
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Kid friendly
View Trail

Marsh Edge Trail

The Marsh Edge Trail can be accessed by turning left at the first fork on the Wildlife Drive. This 1/3 mile long, paved trail runs along the confluence of the Little Blackwater River and Blackwater River and provides great views of the open water areas of the refuge. Amenities along the trail include a toilet, pavilion, benches, and an observation boardwalk that juts out into the river. Be sure to stop at the kiosk for a self - guided brochure before you begin your adventure. Seasonally, this trail is closed from winter to late summer to minimize disturbance to nesting birds.
Trail Length (mi)
0.41
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / introductory
Easy
Estimated Time
30 Minutes
Route Type
Loop
Trail Activities
Birding
Photography
Wildlife watching
Suitability
Kid friendly
Wheelchair friendly
View Trail