Chesapeake Forest – North Tara Road
6501 North Tara Road, Federalsburg, MD 21632
North Tara Road passes through the Marshy Hope Complex of the Chesapeake Forest Lands, a large collection of forest parcels managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. North Tara Road offers a variety of habitats, providing opportunities for seeing a diversity of bird species. North Tara Road can be birded from the road itself, by driving and pulling over to look and listen. Or for those who wish to walk into the forest, several trails provide access (see trail maps at links at left). There are trails on both the west and east sides of North Tara Road; in general, the trails on the west side will provide access to wetland habitat, while trails on the east side go through drier terrain.
The three or so miles north of MD Route 392/Harrison Ferry Road afford the best habitat and wildlife views. Beginning at MD Route 392, head north on North Tara Road, which lies east of the Marshyhope Creek and between the towns of Hurlock and Finchville. (The name of the creek is usually given as one word: “Marshyhope.” But the name of the area is sometimes given as two words: “Marshy Hope.”) Look for a dip in North Tara Road where the road passes by a large swamp. To the left (west), immediately past the swamp, is a trail that leads past the edge of the swamp into the forest interior. Further north and also on the left (west) is a small parking area with access to two loop trails designated as the Marshyhope Bird Trail – see this specific trail map and the overall map of the Marshy Hope Complex at the trail map links at left.
North Tara Road and the Marshy Hope Complex are part of the much larger (73,723 acres) Chesapeake Forest Lands, acquired by the State over several years, mostly from the Chesapeake Forest Products Company, a timber and lumber company. It has been a spectacular acquisition of public land. More than 240 parcels are now managed by the state, spanning six Eastern Shore counties: Caroline, Talbot, Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester. Over 30 of these parcels are open to public access and have trails. If you wish to explore more of these lands, start with the overview map and driving directions at http://dnr.maryland.gov/forests/Pages/chesapeakeforests-maps-directions.aspx, then download detailed maps for the specific parcels you wish to visit, available on the same web page.
Over 36 miles of named foot-trails in various parcels of Chesapeake Forest offer special opportunities for exploring: see the individual detailed trail maps and descriptions at http://dnr.maryland.gov/forests/Pages/chesapeakeforest-recreation.aspx. Most of this trail system is on flat terrain, but there may be stream or road crossings or standing water on these trails. Wear waterproof boots at any time of year.
The Chesapeake Forest Lands are open to public hunting, so be aware of hunting seasons and plan accordingly.
Over 130 species have been reported to eBird from North Tara Road.
Breeding species include Wood Duck; abundant Wild Turkeys; Red-headed Woodpecker; Hairy Woodpecker; Brown-headed Nuthatch; Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireo; Yellow-billed Cuckoo; Acadian Flycatcher; Eastern Wood-pewee; Great Crested Flycatcher; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; Ovenbird; Pine Warbler; Worm-eating Warbler; Prothonotary Warbler; Louisiana Waterthrush; Kentucky Warbler (rare); Prairie Warbler; Yellow-breasted Chat; both Scarlet and Summer Tanager; Eastern Towhee; and Wood Thrush. Several swallow species can be observed:, as they nest within several miles of this location.
In spring and fall, the road is an excellent stopover for migrating species. Night time in the late spring and summer will yield abundant Whip-poor-wills and Chuck-wills-widows, with a good chance for hearing Barred Owl, Great-horned Owl, and Eastern Screech Owl. Although a great night birding location, birders should take caution at night since this is a public area. In particular, take care to avoid disturbing local residents at night.
Because North Tara Road can be birded from the car, it is a great place for those who are mobility impaired. ◾ Check out the “Birding in the Heart of Chesapeake Country” brochure produced by the Dorchester County Tourism Office and MD DNR. You can also pick up a printed copy at the Sailwinds Park and Visitor Center in Cambridge. The brochure outlines five birding/driving tours through Dorchester County, and also has an overview of birds and habitats in the county.◾ North Tara Road and the Marshy Hope Complex, as well as numerous other parcels of the Chesapeake Forest Lands, are contained within the Nanticoke Important Bird Area, as designated by the National Audubon Society. ◾ There is no local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society centered in Dorchester County, so many local birders are members of the Talbot Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
Roadside. When parking, do not block gates or driveways; park only along the public forest boundary and do not park on private property. Note that all the public forest boundaries are marked with yellow paint and are posted with white signs indicating Chesapeake Forest boundary.
North Tara Road runs north from MD Route 392/Harrison Ferry Road , between Hurlock and Finchville. North Tara Road turns east to terminate at MD Route 313/Eldorado Road.
- From the Bay Bridge and points west: Follow US Route 50 south to MD Route 331/Dover Road. Turn left (east), onto Dover Road and follow for 19 miles to the town of Preston. Near Preston, MD Route 16 joins with MD Route 331. The combined Route 16/331 goes south and is named East New Market-Ellwood Road – take this for another 19 miles south to the town of East New Market. In East New Market, turn left (east) onto MD Route 14/Railroad Avenue. In about 1/2 mile, turn left (northeast) onto MD Route 392/East New Market-Hurlock Road, which becomes Harrison Ferry Road after passing through Hurlock. In 7 miles, you will arrive at North Tara Road, on your left. Turn left to go north on North Tara Road and consult the trail maps at links at left for stopping points and trail-heads.
- From Cambridge and points south and east on the Eastern Shore: Take US Route 50 to MD Route 16/Mount Holly Road and go north for 4.8 miles. At East New Market, take the East New Market Bypass and stay straight to continue onto MD Route 392//East New Market-Hurlock Road, which becomes Harrison Ferry Road after passing through Hurlock. In 7 miles, you will arrive at North Tara Road, on your left. Turn left to go north on North Tara Road and consult the trail maps at links at left for stopping points and trail-heads.
- From Centerville and points north on the Eastern Shore: Take MD 213 or US 301 south to US Route 50, then follow US Route 50 south to MD Route 331/Dover Road. Turn left (east), onto Dover Road and follow for 19 miles to the town of Preston. Near Preston, MD Route 16 joins with MD Route 331. The combined Route 16/331 goes south and is named East New Market-Ellwood Road – take this for another 19 miles south to the town of East New Market. In East New Market, turn left (east) onto MD Route 14/Railroad Avenue. In about 1/2 mile, turn left (northeast) onto MD Route 392/East New Market-Hurlock Road, which becomes Harrison Ferry Road after passing through Hurlock. In 7 miles, you will arrive at North Tara Road, on your left. Turn left to go north on North Tara Road and consult the trail maps at links at left for stopping points and trail-heads.
Dorchester County: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Cambridge – Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Dorchester County Side) ◾ Cambridge – Great Marsh Park ◾ Cambridge – Oakley Street ◾ Cambridge – Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center ◾ Elliott Island Road / Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area (Eastern Section) ◾ Hooper’s Island ◾ Taylor’s Island
Caroline County: Adkins Arboretum ◾ Choptank Marina ◾ Daniel Crouse Memorial Park ◾ Idylwild Wildlife Management Area ◾ Martinak State Park ◾ Skeleton Creek Road & Bethlehem Road ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline County)
Somerset County: Deal Island Wildlife Management Area ◾ Fairmount Wildlife Management Area ◾ Irish Grove MOS Sanctuary ◾ Janes Island State Park ◾ Rumbley Boat Ramp ◾ Smith Island
Talbot County: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Talbot County Side) ◾ Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Claiborne Landing ◾ Mill Creek MOS Sanctuary ◾ Pickering Creek Audubon Center ◾ Poplar Island
Wicomico County: Cedar Hill Marina & Park ◾ Ellis Bay Wildlife Management Area ◾ Nanticoke River Wildlife Management Area – Nutter’s Neck ◾ Pemberton Historical Park ◾ Roaring Point & Nanticoke Harbor ◾ Tyaskin Park & Wetipquin Park ◾ Ward Museum & Schumaker Pond
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerows Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow Fields Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainRivers & Streams
Birding By CarFishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingParkingPets Allowed
Audubon Important Bird AreasDriving Tours (Birding By Car)