Located on the East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is the largest, natural barrier island ecosystem in the Middle Atlantic states region that remains predominantly unaffected by human development. The Virginia portion of the island is designated as the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the exception of 448 acres in the refuge’s Toms Cove area maintained by the National Park Service. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the southern end of Assateague Island should not be confused with Chincoteague Island, the neighboring island to the west with a residential community on it. One must drive through Chincoteague Island in order to reach Assateague Island.
On Friday, March 30th, we ate breakfast at the hotel. I had scrambled eggs, bacon and a waffle. Boy did that waffle smell good, as it cooked! I added strawberries, along with some whipped cream, to the top of my waffle. As is customary at most, if not all, Best Western hotels, breakfast is complementary. Best Western Chincoteague Island provides an excellent breakfast for its guests.
At 9:00 am we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The Best Western Chincoteague Island is less than 1 mile from the entrance to the wildlife refuge. Admission to the refuge is $20.00, which is good for multiple days. We didn’t have to pay the admission fee, as I purchased a National Park Service senior pass in February, when I turned 62 years old. We drove to the Toms Cove Visitor Center at the Assateague Island National Seashore, where I got our Passport to Your National Parks stamped and purchased a page of souvenir stamps. Assateague Island National Seashore (Virginia) is the first National Park that we have visited, since purchasing the Passport.
We made two round trips along Beach Access Road. We saw several northern shoveler ducks, several egrets, and one great blue heron. We didn’t see any ponies.
We returned to the hotel around 11:00 am. It was a windy, overcast, rainy, and dreary day. The 55 degree temperature, though, was nice. Weather conditions improved in the afternoon, so we returned to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
In additional to making several round trips along Beach Access Road, we walked the Woodland Trail.
The Woodland Trail is a 2-mile round trip. We saw a few ponies off in the distance, during our walk on the trail.
The trees along Woodland Trail have been destroyed by a southern pine beetle infestation.
We drove around the Wildlife Loop two times. The Wildlife Loop is a 3¼ mile loop and is a great place to observe wildlife, especially waterfowl and wading birds. It is open to walkers and bikers throughout the day, but vehicles are only permitted to drive on it from 3:00 pm. till dusk. This trail is paved and wheelchair accessible. We saw very little wildlife during our two drives. On the second trip we did see several deer crossing through a marshy area. I didn’t have my camera with me on that drive. The deer, though, would have been too far away for a good picture.