Travel Tuesday: Assateague Island National Seashore

by - 12:04 PM

While there isn't much "hiking" to do in this park, Assateague Island National Seashore is one of my favorite places when it comes to the beach. The biggest attraction within the park is the abundance of wild ponies that you will find roaming around. The park itself is just a couple miles drive from Ocean City, Maryland. For those that like to have something else to do aside from a park, this is a great little get away for you.

When you arrive in the park, you go through the fee booth and either show your pass to get in free (Access Pass, Park Pass, etc) or pay the fee. From there you have a wide variety of activities you can do. I recommend beginning at the visitor center which has a museum/nature center within it. There are a lot of hands on activities for the kids and you can even pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for them to complete in order to receive their badge.

 
After you go through the visitor center, you can now venture off into any area that interests you. If you just want to see the horses, I recommend driving around the main roads and looking at the ocean and of course the ponies. Usually, you don't have to go far to see them. They like to walk around the park and even just stand in the roads and cause horse jams. There are many places you go park and enjoy the view if you are short on time. 


 
If you do have more time and have a full day allotted to you, there is so much you can do. The first thing you have to do is of course, go for a hike. There are "mountain trails" and "marsh trails" and various other types of hikes. Some of them are boardwalk style while others are walking through the sand or on a packed dirt trail. Be prepared and have bug spray if you are going to do any of the trails that go through the trees and shrubs. The mosquitos are crazy intense at times and without bug spray, you will get eaten alive. But the trails take you along the beach or through a nice "forest". I call it a forest just because of the trees giving you shade but they are more of tall shrubs.  


Along the way, you will probably run into more horses. It's really not uncommon to see them. I also have to say don't get close to the horses. They are very docile but they are not trained so keep a safe distance. Obviously, I am far too close to the horses as they can turn at any moment. If you do approach them, do not pet them. Just take a picture and move on.


 
One thing I enjoy most about Assateague is the number of activities you can actually do. Fishing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, laying out & tanning, wildlife viewing, bird watching, educational programs... the options are pretty limitless. While hiking, we came across a couple of fun trees that make for a lot of fun. Even younger kids can climb it because it's not terribly tall. It just has all the fun branches that root around and make it fun to sit in too. One of my other favorite activities is canoeing or kayaking. It's a really great price to rent a kayak or canoe for a couple of hours. You get to canoe around the island and see wild ponies from a different view. On those hot summer days, you'll even find some playing in the water I'm sure. If that isn't your thing, pull out some lawn chairs and soak up the sun. It's also a great place for kids to bring their kites and play on a breezy summer day.

 
When you are done with Assateague, you can go across the bay to Chincoteague which is another island with wild ponies as well. While one is federal and one is state, they both have great things about them that would add even more fun to your trip. Or just head back to Ocean City and head to the boardwalk. There is so much to see and do in that part of the state that you won't be disappointed.

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