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Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is a 2,285-acre island refuge at the confluence of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay in Kent County on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The refuge has a number of different types of Chesapeake Bay habitats, including 1000 acres of tidal marsh, 600 acres of upland forest, and 600 acres of croplands managed for wildlife and as a demonstration of Bay-friendly agricultural techniques. The refuge was established on December 27, 1962 to be a sanctuary for migratory birds. Eastern Neck NWR serves as an important migration stopover and wintering area for thousands of waterfowl representing over two dozen species. In addition, the refuge is a major Chesapeake Bay staging and wintering area of the majestic tundra swan. Along with its valuable natural resources, Eastern Neck NWR has rich cultural and historical significance, with human occupation dating back thousands of years.
Nearly six miles of roads and trails are open to visitors most of the year. Four wildlife trails and a handicap-accessible boardwalk and observation tower are available for those who wish to observe the varied habitats of the refuge. Bicycling is popular on the roads of the refuge because of the scenery and the small amount of traffic. However, bicycles are not permitted on the trails, and are only allowed on the paved and gravel roads. The visitor center and refuge office are handicapped accessible, as are the paved and gravel roads. The refuge has 7 trails. Two of the seven trails are accessible by wheel chair; Marsh Overlook and Bayview trails.
Kent County operates the Ingleside Recreation Area and Bogles Wharf landing within the refuge. The Ingleside Recreation Area, on the northwest side of the refuge, has facilities for crabbing and car-top boat launching from April 1 to September 30. Picnic tables are available for use during these months. Bogle's Wharf landing is located on the east side of the refuge and offers trailered boat launching facilities (county permit required - not available at the refuge office). It is also possible to launch canoes or kayaks from this location. Additionally, fishing opportunities are available at the refuge entrance from the bridge that spans the Eastern Neck Narrows.
There are limited deer-hunting opportunities each fall. On ten days in September and October, the refuge permits deer hunting by hunters that obtained a permit thought a lottery drawing system. The harvest of deer on the island controls the deer population to the benefit of the habitat, other wildlife, and the deer. The refuge is closed to the public on these days.
Eastern Neck NWR features a new visitor center housed in a historic hunting lodge, a refuge office and bookstore, marked trails and boardwalks, paved or gravel roads for car or bicycle touring, and a county-operated small boat landing.
The trails and refuge are open every day from 7:30 am (sometimes earlier) to one half hour after sunset. Visitors must be out of the refuge by this time. The gate will be locked at one half hour after sunset.
The bookstore and visitor center are open daily 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. January through March and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April through December.
There is no entrance fee at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge.
A 10-mile long, water trail starts at Bogle’s Wharf and circles the entire Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge and connects scenic, historic and wetland restoration sites located around the island. The trail consists of seven points of interest which contain interpretive wayside signs easily accessed and viewed by paddlers. All of the stopping points along with navigational markers and other useful information are displayed in a waterproof, tear proof, floating map and guide which is available at the Friends of Eastern Neck Bookstore located at the Visitor Center.