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Located in the tidal recesses of the Chesapeake Bay between the Wye River and the Wye East River, Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area offers 2,800 acres of habitat for wintering waterfowl populations and other native wildlife. The area also boasts more than 30 miles of shoreline that park officials fight to protect from erosion.
This Eastern Shore island's flat topography means easy access to a variety of trails that provide glimpses of endangered species such as the Delmarva Fox Squirrel. The island also offers quiet coves where boaters frequently drop anchor for a night or weekend.
Wye Island is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
There are no fees to visit Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area. Call the Wye Island office for fees to use the conference lodge or outdoor pavilion.
Trails: Wildlife viewing and hiking are the most popular activities on Wye Island's six miles of trails. 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 also houses a Holly Tree that is more than 290 years old. Follow the Holly Tree Trail to visit this long-time resident.
The topography of the island is relatively flat. From the novice to the advanced hiker, access to the trails is very easy from the main park road.
Wildlife Viewing: Visitors can see a variety of birds and wildlife including ducks, geese, wading birds, Bald Eagles, the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel, whitetail deer and many other species. Horseback riding and bicycling are also popular but visitors are encouraged to approach these activities with respect for the environment. Horses and bicycles may be off limits in some areas during specific times of the year due to trail conditions.
Hunting / Hunting Dog Field Trials: Hunting is available at Wye Island NRMA for both Canada Goose and White Tailed Deer through managed hunts and lotteries.
Each November Wye Island is the site of several field trial championships. Past field trial championships include the National German Shorthaired Pheasant Association Championship, the American Pointing Dog Championship and the Maryland Amateur Pointing Dog Championship. The general public is encouraged to watch or participate in these events.
Fishing & Boating: Fishing is also permitted from the shoreline at Wye Island NRMA. All anglers 16 years of age and older must have a Maryland Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing License and any other applicable permits required. Anglers are reminded to follow Leave No Trace (LNT) practices and reduce their personal impact on the sensitive vegetation along the shoreline.
For over 300 years, Wye Island was privately owned and managed for agricultural use, including tobacco and wheat farming. Two of the most noteworthy owners were William Paca and Charles Beale Bordley. Mr. Paca, third governor of Maryland and one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence, owned half of the island north of Dividing Creek. Mr. Bordley was a distinguished lawyer and jurist who owned half of the island south of Dividing Creek. In the 1770's Mr. Bordley gave up his law career to devote his life to farming and make Wye Island totally self-sufficient. Under Mr. Bordley's control, the island prospered with its own vineyards, orchards, textile production, brick yard, and even its own brewery.
Eventually the island was sold off into separate farms. The most influential owners were Glenn and Jacqueline Stewart. Ultimately they owned a majority of the land and turned Wye Island into a cattle ranch. The Stewart's built the hunting lodge (Duck House), which remains today on Granary Creek. In the mid 1970's the encroaching threat of residential development forced the State of Maryland to purchase the island to ensure its preservation.