By Susan Buckingham
Since many of the traditional winter holiday activities have been cancelled or postponed due to increasing Covid restrictions, I’ve started a list of places to walk that are both beautiful and convenient. Of course, Queen’s Landing has its own delightful waterside trail which can be combined with the Castle Marina neighborhood and the Cross Island trail for a longer walk. The Cross Island and South Island trails are great for walking on pavement, but there are many other places to find walking and nature nearby that are often less crowded and offer more natural surfaces and settings for walking. For each, I’ve included a brief description of the trails, amenities, and a web address for further details.
At the western end of the Cross Island trail is Terrapin Nature Park which offers woods, meadows and beaches for a varied walk. Depending on which trail you chose, you can walk 1-5 miles. If you combine this with the Cross Island Trail, you can walk much further. The trails, although sometimes muddy, are suitable for all abilities. Some are paved for wheelchair accessibility. Unless it’s a warm weather weekend, when it can be uncomfortably crowded, parking is plentiful and there are a few picnic tables and benches around for a lunch, snack or just a rest. There are portable toilets in a few places.
Near the eastern end of the Cross Island Trail is Ferry Point Park offering a visitor’s center with bathrooms (check on hours) and parking. With both paved and unpaved trails, the park offers just a few miles of walking suitable for most. If the tide is low, the beaches are wider, and more areas are accessible from the water’s edge. There are a few picnic tables and a bench or two providing a break if desired. Although not as extensive an area as Terrapin, Ferry Point offers a shallow sandy-bottomed cove with beach and fishing (with permit) on the Kent Narrows side of the park. There is also the little Chesapeake Heritage Museum which is a delight if open. Climbing the outside stairs to the towers is a great way to get extensive views of the area. Looking west from the left fork of the trail, you can even see Queen’s Landing across the water.
A little further afield in Grasonville is the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. Just driving in on Discovery Lane off Perry’s Corner Road is an adventure through woods and saltwater marshes teeming with birds and wildlife. Occasionally, if the tide is unusually high, this road can flood barring access. Once parked, there is a visitor’s center, education buildings, and a couple of lake pavilions. Besides all the programs offered, there are 4 or 5 miles of trails including dirt/shell roads, woods, marshes, boardwalk, beach, and lakeside. Be sure to go down to the kayak dock for wonderful views of Marshy Creek and check out the bird blinds and raised platforms in several spots. There are plenty of benches, picnic tables and bathrooms available. CBEC is a private non-profit with inexpensive individual and family memberships, but anyone can go for a walk. In warm weather, kayaks are available for rent—see the website to reserve.
Next time: Pickering Creek, Wye Island, Adkins Arboretum and Tuckahoe State Park