Assateague Island is a barrier island located south of Ocean City, just across the inlet.
You find it by driving West on Route 50 about 2 miles, where you make a left onto Route 611 and proceed to the Island by following the signs on 611.
Just before you reach the Island, you will see the Barrier Island Visitor Center on your right. Plan to stop there for maps, brochures, displays, information, conversations with rangers, and activity planning. (A beautiful new Center is scheduled to open this year!)
Assateague Island has two parks in Maryland.
Assateague State Park
Assateague State Park (straight ahead after you cross the bridge on 611) is managed by Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources. This state park has areas for swimming, surf fishing, and surf boarding. It also has a campground, recreation areas, bathhouses and a concession area (in season).
Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island National Seashore (a right turn on Bayberry Drive after you cross the bridge on 611) is managed by the National Park Service. This national park has a variety of naturalist and beach recreation activities, including camping, birding, surf fishing, canoeing, bicycling, and hiking. The National Park Service also manages the herd of wild horses on the Maryland portion of the barrier island.?
Assateague Island National Wildlife Refuge
Assateague Island also includes a third area, The National Wildlife Refuge in Chincoteague, Virginia. To reach this area of the Island, you must travel to the southern portion of the island through Virginia.
The Barrier Island Visitor Center and the parks’ websites (see above) provide detailed information on each of the following features of Assateague Island.
The Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent Bay beaches afford expanses of sand and surf for beach-goers who wish to experience the Island’s natural environment.
The wild horses on Maryland’s side of the island are free to roam the island: including the roads, beaches, trails, and campgrounds. Visitors are urged to respect the horses as wild animals. The horses are actually descendants of domestic horses pastured on the island in the 17th century. The beautiful, shaggy animals thrive on the bounty of their environment.
Hiking and Biking
The island has three self-guided hiking trails and a scenic bike route. The trails are focused on the marsh, forest, and dunes. Walkers can easily explore the beaches, woodlands, and marshes. You can also bike the paved paths and main road (about 3-1/2 miles) or you could bike the 10 miles from Ocean City to Assateague (and back…)
Surf Fishing, Clamming, and Crabbing
The 37-mile-long island affords many opportunities for surf fishing. The Bayside areas provide free access to favorite clamming and crabbing spots.
Canoeing and Kayaking
The back bays of Assateague have two main routes that offer outstanding views of the bay environment and wildlife. Canoes can be rented during the summer.
Assateague is a natural habitat for countless songbirds and waterfowl – both resident and migratory species.