Attraction magazine has partnered with the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Office and Chesapeake Conservancy to help readers find their next adventure. Each month, we’ll feature a new place from their helpful website, FindYourChesapeake.com. There, you can also sign up for an e-newsletter, Trips and Tips, that delivers fresh ideas to your inbox each week.
Ready to try something new? At FindYourChesapeake.com, also find expert advice on experiences like birdwatching, fishing, camping, and hiking. Their team also developed content to help people explore the Chesapeake virtually so folks can stay safe at home during the pandemic.
This month, the spotlight is on spending a fun-packed day on the island – Kent Island, that is! Hiking, check. Biking, check. Picnicking, check. And you can even delve into the marine biology and archeological history of the Chesapeake Bay – all within the span of less than six miles.
A good place to begin the day would be a visit to the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitor Center, currently open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, with additional weekend hours coming soon. The center has restrooms, picnic tables, maps, trails, and helpful staff to assist with planning, making it a great base for further explorations. The center’s exhibits and resources make it a great destination for those interested in learning more about the area’s natural and cultural history.
Entry to one of the nicest parks on the island is adjacent to the visitor center. Follow the signs to Ferry Point Park, which includes a 530-foot boardwalk that takes you over a marsh and onto a trail leading to open space, a wooded area, and a natural shoreline overlooking the Chester River and the Kent Narrows waterways.
The heart and soul of any Kent Island day trip is the Cross Island Trail. The 6.5-mile-long trail is paved and suitable for walking, running, strollers, skateboarding, and biking. The trail is accessible at various locations, including the Terrapin Nature Park, Old Love Point Park, Castle Marina Road, the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitor Center, and the public lots beneath the Kent Narrows US 50/301 Bridge. These lots are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Dogs are permitted on a leash and doggie bags are provided. The trail is a mix of bustling marinas, watermen plying their craft, and unhindered views of the water.
Another great park, and optional starting point for the Cross Island Trail, is Terrapin Nature Park. This award-winning 276-acre nature park features a 3.25-mile oyster chaff walking trail, which meanders through wildflower meadows, wetlands, tidal ponds, woodlands, and Chesapeake Bay shoreline. With over 4,000 feet of Bay shoreline and 73 acres of wetlands, this is a great destination for viewing nature and wildlife. The two observation blinds provide great opportunities for spotting herons, ospreys, swans, turtles, bullfrogs, and a variety of songbirds.
Not on Kent Island, but nearby, is the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, re-opening for daily hours this spring. The facility features 510 acres of preserved peninsula on Kent Narrows. There you’ll find miles of walking trails, kayak and paddle board rental, soft launch, self-guided experiences, geocaching, and a bird of prey outdoor exhibit. Over 600 different species of birds have been sighted at the center. More information can be found at bayrestoration.org.
Throw in a picnic and that’s a full day! To explore more of what Queen Anne’s County has to offer, visit www.visitqueenannes.com.
Cross Island trail map: www.findyourchesapeake.com/globalimages/place_maps/Cross_Island_Map.pdf
Cross Island Trail with map:
Terrapin Nature Park:
Chesapeake Heritage & Visitor Center: www.findyourchesapeake.com/places/chesapeake-exploration-center