At a Glance

Hours: Sunrise to sunset.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Bring a scope. ◾ Wye Island NRMA is an active hunting area. Be aware of hunting seasons and plan your visit accordingly. ◾ There are restrooms at several locations; see trail map at link at left.

Best Seasons: Winter for waterfowl, spring and fall for migrating songbirds.

Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Queenstown SE, Wye Mills SW, Saint Michaels NE

Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area

632 Wye Island Rd, Queenstown, MD 21658
(410) 827-7577

Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area (NRMA) is located in the tidal recesses of the Chesapeake Bay between the Wye River and the Wye East River. This site is best known for its winter waterfowl, but is also a good place to visit for migrating songbirds in fall and winter. The 2,800-acre property, used for growing wheat and tobacco back to colonial times, is laced with old farm lanes passing beneath arching trees. It has a quiet bucolic ambience. The topography of the island is relatively flat and access to the trails is very easy from the main road through the NRMA.

Many of the trails at Wye Island provide overlooks of the Bay or river waters, and are perfect for waterfowl viewing. Other trails go by wooded wetlands that can be good migrant traps in fall and spring. The School House Woods Nature Trail takes you through a mature hardwood forest, while the Ferry Landing Trail leads beneath a canopy of Osage Orange Trees. Wye Island houses a Holly Tree that is more than 290 years old; follow the Holly Tree Trail to visit this long-time resident. Delmarva Fox Squirrels, an endangered species, occur here.

Birdlife:

Over 200 species have been reported on eBird from Wye Island, including 28 species of waterfowl.  A major emphasis at Wye Island is to provide suitable habitat for wintering waterfowl. In the winter, look for Red-headed Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Swamp Sparrow, and Savannah Sparrow.

Horned Larks and Field Sparrows can be found in fields throughout much of the year. Northern Bobwhite can sometimes be heard in June and July, and if you are very lucky, you may catch sight of one. Wild Turkey also breed here.  Other breeding species include Green Heron, Bald Eagle, and Osprey.  Swallows, terns, and herons are easy to see in the warm months.

Parking:

Ample parking located throughout. See trail map at link at left.

Special Features:

A soft launch for canoes and kayaks is located at the head of Granary Creek, on the south side of  Wye Island Road. This launch site is relatively new and is not shown on the NRMA trail map, but see MD’s Water Access Guide. ◾ Wye Island NRMA is the site of hunting dog field trials that are open to the pubic for viewing; obtain the schedule by emailing nrma.wyeisland@maryland.gov. ◾ The DNR Conference Lodge (Duck House) is located at Wye Island. The lodge and grounds are available to rent for meetings, retreats, company picnics, family reunions, weddings and receptions. The lodge can accommodate 25 to 30 people per day for an indoor meeting or event. There are overnight accommodations for 12 people in a dormitory setting within the lodge and adjoining bunkhouse. Outdoors, groups of 50 to 200 people can be accommodated as well using the lodge and nearby pavilion. Reservations are accepted one year in advance of your stay and can be made by contacting the Wye Island Office at 410-827-7577 or via e-mail at nrma.wyeisland@maryland.gov. ◾ Youth group camping is permitted at three primitive group campsites. Service charges for use of these areas include a $20 reservation charge, and $3 charge per camper per night for qualified groups. The overnight service charge is waived for youth groups that possess a valid Maryland Park Service youth group pass. Group camping is by reservation only. Reservations must be made 30 days in advance by contacting the Wye Island Office at 410-827-7577. All campers must be part of a recognized organization. ◾ Wye Island NRMA is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ There is no local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society centered in Queen Anne’s County, so local birders may be members of chapters in adjoining counties: the Kent County Bird Club, the Caroline County Bird Club, or the Talbot Bird Club, all of which offer field trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.

Multimedia:

A Voice for the Rivers is a special episode of Outdoors Maryland from Maryland Public Television that focuses on the work of the riverkeepers in safeguarding and working to improve the health of the major rivers of the Upper Eastern Shore: the Sassafras, the Wye, the Miles, the Chester, and the Choptank. There is beautiful footage of the open waters, marshlands, and shoreline forests, as well as discussion of the challenges of pollution and sea level rise.

Directions:

From the Western Shore via the Bay Bridge: From the bridge, travel east on US Route 50 and in 12.5 miles, turn right at the Wye Island NRMA sign to go south on Carmichael Road. Travel 5.1 miles on Carmichael Road, to the Wye Island Bridge. Cross the bridge and continue on to Wye Island and the NRMA. Once inside the NRMA, watch for a kiosk with visitor information. Parking is available at several locations along Wye Island Road in the NRMA.

From Easton or points south and east: Travel west on US Route 50 to Carmichael Road on the left (look for sign for Wye Island NRMA). You will come to Carmichael Road in approximately 3 miles after the MD Route 213 traffic light. Turn left to go south on Carmichael Road, driving for 5.1 miles, to the Wye Island Bridge. Continue across the bridge onto Wye Island and the NRMA. Once inside the NRMA, watch for a kiosk with visitor information. Parking is available at several marked locations along Wye Island Road in the NRMA.

Nearby Sites:

Queen Anne’s County: Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center – Horsehead, Conquest Preserve, Ferry Point Park, Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach / Matapeake Fishing Pier & Boat Ramp, Terrapin Nature Park, Tuckahoe State Park (Queen Anne’s County)

Caroline County: Adkins Arboretum, Idylwild Wildlife Management Area, Martinak State Park, Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline County)

Kent County: Chesapeake Farms & St. Paul’s Millpond, Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Millington Wildlife Management Area, Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area and Turner’s Creek Park

Talbot County: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park – Talbot County Side, Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area, Claiborne Landing, Pickering Creek Audubon Center, Poplar Island

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Lawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsHay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & StreamsSalt or Brackish Marsh

Features:

BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)BoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingHiking/Walking TrailsHorseback RidingOvernight Lodging or CabinsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Chesapeake Bay Eastern ShoreChesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkHunting AreasThe Rivers of the Eastern Shore