Roaring Point & Nanticoke Harbor
20371 Red Hill Lane, Nanticoke, MD 21840
20411 West Harbor Road, Nanticoke, MD 21840
Roaring Point is a triangular piece of land that juts far out into the Nanticoke River from its eastern shore in Wicomico County, in the town of Nanticoke. The point is graced by a wide, ¾-mile long sandy beach; a woodlot of loblolly pines and hardwoods, with a shrubby understory; and a freshwater marsh. There is a long rock jetty that stretches out into the water at the north end of the point.
Here, the Nanticoke River is well over a mile wide, and the Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area, on the opposite shore, appears only as a strip of green on the horizon. Roaring Point offers spectacular views and is worth a visit for that reason alone. But don’t worry – it’s also loaded with birds, and is one of the top eBird hotspots in Wicomico County.
Access to the point is primarily via the county-owned Roaring Point Park, which covers 33 acres along the north edge of the peninsula, including the point itself with its long trailing sandbar. The park offers a small paved parking area and a natural surface trail that leads through the woods to the beach. Roaring Point is popular among locals as a fishing and crabbing spot. The beach serves as a soft launch sit for canoes and kayaks. Swimming is allowed but the beach is unguarded. A restroom is located by the parking area.
Birding Roaring Point Park is simple: after parking, take the trail to the beach, being sure to bring your scope along. Scan the water for waterfowl and gulls in winter, and don’t forget to check the rock jetty for resting birds. Walk the beach to the point, scanning ahead for any shorebirds that might be present, particularly during migration. Keep your ears open for songbirds in the woodlot and rails and such in the marshy area.
Roaring Point Park shares the peninsula with a private campground that occupies the southern ⅔ of the point. There is no birding access at the campground, but you can get a view of the beach and water on the south side of the point from the end of Nanticoke Wharf Road (aka Roaring Point Wharf Road). The land around the end of the road, including the sandy beach, is all privately owned, so be sure to stay on the paved public road if you make a stop here.
While in the area, you should also stop at Nanticoke Harbor Park, at the north edge of Roaring Point. Nanticoke Harbor Park is another county-owned facility that features a full-service marina as well as a public boat ramp. The primary reason for birders to visit is the view of the water, as this small (6.5 acres) park does not offer much in the way of land habitat, but it has good visitor amenities. There is a picnic pavilion on the water’s edge and a small beach area that offers a view of the water as well as serving as a soft launch site for canoes and kayaks. There is also a restroom.
If you’ve come as far as the town of Nanticoke in your birding explorations, you might want to go just 2 miles farther south to where MD Route 349/Nanticoke Road ends at Jones Creek, at a community known as Waterview. The public road ends at a private bridge that crosses the creek, and on the north side, there is a wide gravel shoulder where you can stop the car for a look. The vast marsh to the east of the road, behind some private residences, is the southwest tip of Ellis Bay Wildlife Management Area. Check the muddy shoulders of Jones Creek for rails and waders, and scan the marsh for waterfowl and waders. Listen for the bubbly songs of Marsh Wrens and the quiet buzzy songs of Seaside Sparrows in summer.
Don’t forget to visit the nearby Nutter Road area in the Fair Meadow Complex of the Chesapeake Forest lands, adjacent to the western edge of Ellis Bay WMA. The main part of Ellis Bay WMA can be visited on the way to or from Nanticoke and Roaring Point. Most birders combine a visit to Roaring Point with stops at nearby Cedar Hill Marina and Tyaskin Park and Wetipquin Park to the north.
There are four eBird hotspots that cover Roaring Point and Nanticoke Harbor:
In addition, there is a hotspot for the nearby Waterview area with 128+ species. Waterview provides an opportunity for some species not found at Roaring Point.
The combined bird lists for the five hotspots above totals 188+ species; you can view this combined list by clicking here.
Roaring Point is known for its wintering waterfowl, with 22 species reported on eBird, including both diving ducks and dabblers. It’s a good spot to look for Great and Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoters, Common Goldeneyes, and Ruddy Ducks in winter. Other waterbirds include Horned Grebes from late fall through spring and Red-throated and Common Loons from late fall through spring.
At Roaring Point, a modest number of shorebirds can be found on the sandy beaches and the tidal mudflats, mostly during migration. These include Killdeer, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Dunlin, Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, American Woodcock, and Wilson’s Snipe (check the marshy areas for the latter two).
The gulls are the usual assortment: Bonaparte’s during migration ((April-May and again in August); Laughing from March through November; and Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed for most of the year, with the exception of high summer. Reports of rare gulls include Franklin’s, Iceland, and Glaucous. The usual terns are Caspian, Forster’s, and Royal. Black Skimmers may show up in fall, and there have been reports of Sandwich Tern (rare).
This is a good spot to look for Northern Gannets during spring and fall migration. Brown Pelicans are found in good numbers from March through November.
Among waders, look for Great Blue Herons year-round, plus Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets in spring and summer and Green Herons in late summer. Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, and Glossy Ibis are rare.
In the raptor department, Northern Harriers, Red-shouldered Hawks, and Red-tailed Hawks are found fall through spring; Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrels come through during spring and fall migration; and Cooper’s Hawks occur sporadically. Osprey and Bald Eagles breed locally and are abundant; there are eagles year-round, with numbers increasing at various times of year.
Local swallows include Purple Martin, Tree, Bank, and Barn. There are some year-round woodpeckers, including Red-bellied, Downy, Pileated, and Northern Flicker. Woodland birds also include Eastern Wood-Pewee and Great Crested Flycatcher, and Eastern Kingbirds use the scrubby areas around the edge of the marsh. Blue Jays, American Crows, and Fish Crows are abundant year-round, along with Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. Both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets overwinter, along with Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, and Winter Wrens. Brown-headed Nuthatches are easy to find throughout the year, and breed locally. House Wrens are present as breeders in the warm months, and Carolina Wrens are abundant year-round.
All three mimids are present: Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, and Brown Thrasher. Among the thrushes, we find Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins year-round, and Hermit Thrushes overwintering. On migration, there might be Veery and Gray-Cheeked Thrush.
House Sparrows, House Finches, and American Goldfinches are here throughout the year. Sparrows include year-round Chipping and wintering populations of Dark-eyed Juncos, Eastern Towhees, and Fox, White-throated, Savannah, Song, and Swamp Sparrows. Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and Common Grackles are abundant. A few Boat-tailed Grackles may show up from time to time, but these do not regularly occur here.
Most of the nineteen species of reported warblers are Roaring Point are migrants, not breeders. Pine Warblers do nest here, and Yellow-rumpeds overwinter in numbers.
Some specialties at the Waterview stop that may not be found at Roaring Point include Northern Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, Clapper and Virginia Rails, Willet, Greater Yellowlegs, Tricolored Heron (late summer), Black-crowned Night-Heron, Marsh Wren, Seaside Sparrow, Bobolink (fall migration), Eastern Meadowlark (winter), Orchard Oriole (summer), Boat-tailed Grackle (summer), Common Yellowthroat, Blue Grosbeak, and Indigo bunting.
Pets on leash permitted.
There is a paved parking area at Roaring Point Park but the trails and beach are not wheelchair accessible. The extensive paved areas at Nanticoke Harbor Park offer more wheelchair mobility. Viewing at the end of Nanticoke Wharf Road and at Waterview is from or near the car.
Waterview (but not Roaring Point or Nanticoke Harbor) is within the Wicomico-Somerset Marshes Important Bird Area as designated by the National Audubon Society.
Due to its historical and environmental significance, many local organizations contribute to the park’s ongoing preservation, including the Friends of the Nanticoke River and the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance. ◾ For boaters, details on Nanticoke Harbor boating facilities can be found within the MD DNR Public Water Access Guide. ◾ The Nanticoke River Explorer’s Brochure is available as a free download from the Paddle the Nanticoke website, developed by partners including the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, MD DNR, and the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Tri-County Bird Club, serving Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties. Tri-County Bird Club offers field trips and meetings with presentations by guest speakers, free and open to the public.
A brief YouTube video posted by a private citizen features aerial and on-the-ground footage of the park with its woods, marsh, and long sandy beach as well as the open waters of the Nanticoke River. The video will give you a good feel for the environs.
Paved parking at Roaring Point Park and at Nanticoke Harbor Park. No parking available at the end of Nanticoke Wharf Road or at Waterview.
Roaring Point is located in the town of Nanticoke southwest of Salisbury. Nanticoke Harbor is at the north edge of Roaring Point, and these directions will take you to the Harbor first.
To reach Nanticoke Harbor from the Western Shore: Take US Route 50/US Route 301 to the Bay Bridge and continue south and then east on US Route 50 toward (but not all the way to) Salisbury. Just after Mardela Springs, turn right to go south on MD Route 347/Quantico Road. In about 3 miles, at an intersection with Old Athol Road, turn left to stay south on Quantico Road for another 1.5 miles. Then turn right to go west on MD Route 349/Nanticoke Road. Stay on Nanticoke Road for 7.5 miles. At a fork in the road at Cox’s Corner, Nanticoke Road will intersect with MD Route 351/Capitola Road (aka the Blue Crab Scenic Byway). BEAR RIGHT here to stay on Nanticoke Road. Continue west on Nanticoke Road for 2.6 miles, to the town of Bivalve, and bear left at Bivalve to continue on Nanticoke Road, now heading south, for another 2.8 miles. Turn right onto Harbor Road and continue straight ahead to the Harbor in just 0.1 miles.
To reach Nanticoke Harbor from points north on the Eastern Shore: Use US Route 301 or MD Route 213 to reach US Route 50 southbound. Then follow directions above.
To reach Nanticoke Harbor from points east of Salisbury, including the Ocean City area: Take US Route 50 west toward Salisbury. Take US Route 50 Business through Salisbury, or take the US Route 50 Bypass around the north side of Salisbury. On the west side of Salisbury, turn left to go south on MD Route 349/Nanticoke Road. Stay on Nanticoke Road for 15 miles. At a fork in the road at Cox’s Corner, Nanticoke Road will intersect with MD Route 351/Capitola Road (aka the Blue Crab Scenic Byway). BEAR RIGHT here to stay on Nanticoke Road. Continue west on Nanticoke Road for 2.6 miles, to the town of Bivalve, and bear left at Bivalve to continue on Nanticoke Road, now heading south, for another 2.8 miles. Turn right onto Harbor Road and continue straight ahead to the Harbor in just 0.1 miles.
To reach Roaring Point Park from Nanticoke Harbor: Use Harbor Road to return to MD Route 349 Nanticoke Road and turn right to go south. In ¼ mile, turn left to go west on Red Hill Lane. The entrance to Red Hill Park will be on your left in another 1.4 mile.
To reach the end of Nanticoke Wharf Road (aka Roaring Point Wharf Road) from Roaring Point Park: Return to the intersection with Nanticoke Road and make a sharp right to go south on Nanticoke Wharf Road. The road will end at the river in just over ½ mile. Remember that the land here is all private property so stay on the paved public road.
To reach Waterview from Nanticoke Wharf Road: Return to the intersection with Red Hill Lane and Nanticoke Road and turn right to go south on MD Route 349 /Nanticoke Road. Continue south for 1.7 miles through the community of Waterview to where the public road ends at a private bridge at Jones Creek. Observe the marsh from the road surface.
Wicomico County: Cedar Hill Marina & Park, Ellis Bay Wildlife Management Area, Nanticoke River Wildlife Management Area – Nutter’s Neck, Pemberton Historical Park, Tyaskin Park & Wetipquin Park, Ward Museum & Schumaker Pond
Dorchester County: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Chesapeake Forest – North Tara Road, Elliott Island Road / Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area (Eastern Section)
Somerset County: Deal Island Wildlife Management Area, Fairmount Wildlife Management Area, Irish Grove MOS Sanctuary, Janes Island State Park, Rumbley Boat Ramp
Worcester County: Pocomoke State Forest – Hickory Point Cypress Swamp Natural Area
Bottomland DeciduousConifers Urban or Small Town Landscape Sandy Beach or Dunes Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams
Features and Amenities:
BeginnersBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsSwimmingWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Community and Urban ParksCounty ParksThe Rivers of the Eastern ShoreWater Trails