In yesterday’s blog post I wrote that we hiked three nature trails, while visiting the Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland District). The three hiking trails are: Life of the Dunes trail, Life of the Forest trail and Life of the Marsh trail. In today’s blog post I will share photographs taken, while hiking the Life of the Dunes trail.
The Life of the Dunes trail is located at the end of Bayberry Drive, about three miles south of the Verrazano Bridge.
The loop trail is of a 3/4 mile duration The loop portion starts a short distance from the trail head. We hiked clockwise around the trail.
The Life of the Dunes trail is made of sand and sand can change. There are no confusing intersections or unmarked side trails; however, there are points where the path may be questionable.
Do you see the wooden fencing in the photograph displayed above? The path was questionable at one point. We just followed the wooden fencing along portions of the trail or followed directional markers. Also, there are numbered markers (see the #1 marker?) along the trail that correspond to a trail guide, which we did not have. I learned subsequent to our visit that a trail guide is available for purchase at the visitors center or can be downloaded here. Pertaining to the first marker the trail guide reads: “In the desertlike conditions of the dunelands most animal activity other than birds is nocturnal. Search for tracks in early morning before the breezes have had time to obscure them. Look for a doodlebug’s (antlion larva) winding trail through the surface sand, a red fox’s dainty doglike pawprints in a fairly straight line or a boat-tailed grackle’s many wandering tracks.”
There is a historic aspect of the Life of the Dunes Trail. In the 1950s developers built a 15-mile road here that extended to the Maryland/Virginia State line. The road, named Baltimore Boulevard, was, at the time, the only paved road on Assateague Island. Developers had also cleared land for more than 130 side streets along Baltimore Boulevard. Baltimore Boulevard was destroyed by a storm in 1962.
Many people questioned the wisdom of 9,000 building lots on Assateague Island, after the March 1962 storm. This great northeaster was the single most important event which led to creation of the national seashore in 1965.
Pertaining to the 12th marker, the trail guide reads “Exposure to salt-laden ocean winds has caused this southern red oak to adapt. Notice its short thick trunk and low spreading branches. As seasons pass, fallen leaves accumulate and gradually decay adding organic matter and moisture to the sandy soil. The old oak has created a more hospitable environment for plants and provides acorns for white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, grackle, towhee, and brown thrasher.
Before leaving the southernmost portion of Bayberry Drive, we walked over to the South Ocean Beach.
At the South Ocean Beach there is parking, swimming (no lifeguards), fishing, restrooms/outdoor shower and limited wheelchair access.
In my next blog post, I will take you along as we hike the Life of the Forest trail.