Pocomoke State Forest – Hickory Point Cypress Swamp Natural Area
Parking area is between private residences at 122 and 250 Hickory Point Road, Pocomoke City, MD 21851
Hickory Point Cypress Swamp Natural Area is a unique wetland of over 2,000 acres, part of Pocomoke State Forest and managed by the State of Maryland as part of the Heritage Conservation program, which sets aside natural areas of ecological significance. Most of the Cypress Swamp is also designated as a State Wildland, giving it a high level of protection and limiting use to passive recreation.
Hickory Point is the largest southern swamp system in Maryland, and supports at least 14 rare, threatened and endangered species. Hickory Point is regarded by some as a northern extension of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia. The Bald Cypress trees that characterize the swamp are deciduous conifers, losing their leaves each fall. Much of the biological diversity at this site can be attributed to the variety of habitats present, such as oak-loblolly pine forests, mixed oak-heath forests, tidal bald cypress forests, Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) swamps, and slightly brackish tidal shrublands and marshes.
This site is little visited but deserves more attention from birders. While there is no maintained trail network through the swamp, birders can walk the abandoned logging roads and the hunting trails on the relatively high ground near the parking area for access to the oak-pine and oak-heath forests.
Much of Hickory Point is best explored by canoe or kayak, meandering up the tidal areas and through the swamp. The best access area for boat launch is near the town of Rehobeth in Somerset County. See the Maryland Public Water Access Atlas for details.
Over 140 species have been reported on eBird for Pocomoke State Forest–Hickory Point. The area is ideal habitat for forest interior dwelling species like Barred Owl and Black-and-white Warbler, as well as species that thrive in ecotones, places where different habitats merge. Prothonotary and Worm-eating Warblers breed here, along with Chuck-will’s-widows and Eastern Whip-poor-wills. Swainson’s Warblers previously bred here, but were last reported in 2000. The site is known as a roosting ground for Bald Eagles, with as many as 50 seen at one time. Northern Bobwhite may be found in May or June, and Wild Turkey are present year-round. American Woodcock breed along the wet wood edges. Red Crossbills and Pine Siskins have been reported during winter irruptions, and Purple Finches are annual in winter.
Pets on leash are permitted.
Hickory Point Cypress Swamp is part of the much larger Pocomoke-Nassawango Important Bird Area, as designated by the National Audubon Society.
The trails in the Natural Area are not wheelchair accessible. Some birding from the car may be possible on the road to the parking area and other local roads, but beware of soft shoulders and ditches.
A large population of the state-listed endangered shrub Red Bay (Persea palustris) can be found at Hickory Point. Red Bay is a larval host plant for the Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes), a butterfly that is listed in Maryland as endangered. ◾ The Tri-county Bird Club is the local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, serving Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset Counties; the club offers field trips to local birding areas and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
Dirt parking area where Hickory Point Road ends at a metal gate that blocks the road.
From Pocomoke City: Head south on US Route 13, crossing the Pocomoke River. At the junction of US Route 13 and US Route 113, turn right (southwest) onto Old Virginia Road/Pocomoke Beltway. Continue 1.9 miles to a T-intersection with MD Route 371/Cedar Hall Road and turn left (southwest). Follow MD Route 371 for 2.8 miles. Turn right (west) onto Hickory Point Road and travel another 2 miles (paved road becomes a dirt road). Follow the dirt road to a small parking area at the front of a gate (which blocks the remainder of the road) and park here. Walk into the Cypress Swamp via the road beyond the gate (see trail map at link at left).
Somerset County: Deal Island Wildlife Management Area, Fairmount Wildlife Management Area, Irish Grove MOS Sanctuary, Janes Island State Park, Rumbley Boat Ramp
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
Worcester County: Assateague Island National Seashore & Assateague Island State Park, Castaways RV Resort & Campgrounds, E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area, Ocean City Inlet, Truitts Landing and Other Bayside Landings, West Ocean City Pond
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & StreamsSalt or Brackish Marsh
Bicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Free - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsParkingPets AllowedWater View
Audubon Important Bird AreasHunting AreasState ForestsState Natural Areas & WildlandsThe Rivers of the Eastern ShoreWater Trails