Open to the Public
Take a self guided audio tour. View All
A window into ice ages past, Finzel Swamp is located in a "frost pocket," an area where the surrounding hills capture moisture and cold air that conspire to create a landscape more reminiscent of habitat found much further north in Canada.
Thanks to a partnership with aptly named Frostburg State University, the Conservancy is learning more about this unique natural treasure.
In 2012, a group of Frostburg students set up a weather monitoring station at the preserve. This station allows the student researchers to monitor weather conditions in relation to water levels and ultimately gather data on climate-change impacts to the area.
The students, in turn, will share data with the Conservancy, helping us better understand how our restoration work contributes to the habitat’s health.
Before You Go
- Download the Finzel Preserve Visitors Guide (PDF)
- View Preserve Guidelines. Please note: dogs are not allowed at any Conservancy preserves.
- eBird Observations
Three-and-half hour drive from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., past Cumberland.
The preserve is open to the public during day light hours year-round. Admission is free.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
In addition to the shrub swamp, the preserve contains three other distinct plant communities, and is the headwaters to the Savage River. The mountain peatlands created by this rare mix of altitude, temperature, and precipitation are home to a spectacular range of plants, birds, and mammals.
Appalachia harbors the most diverse community of salamanders in the world, and pristine Finzel Swamp provides a perfect sanctuary: varied habitat, moisture, and clean water.
What the Conservancy Is Doing Here
- 326 acres purchased by The Nature Conservancy since 1970
- Removing woody vegetation to restore habitat for northern larch (larix laricina)
- Removing culverts to restore natural hydrology and habitat quality for swamp plants
- Ecological management: installing barriers to prevent off-road vehicle access to grassland and swamp
Year of the Salamander - Passport to Nature: In a wetland crawling with colorful creatures, will our explorers find the most elusive salamander?
What to See: Plants
- One of the southernmost occurrences for tamarack (or larch), wild calla, and Canadian burnet in the United States.
- Red spruce, small cranberry, cotton grass, and bog fern.
What to See: Animals
- Woodland jumping mouse, smoky shrew, and bobcat.
- State-rare breeding birds found here are the Virginia rail, sedge wren, alder flycatcher, Nashville warbler, and saw-whet owl.
- You may also be able to glimpse rose-breasted grosbeak, woodcock, cedar waxwing, scarlet tanager, wild turkey, and the whip-poor-will.
Download an Audio Tour
Planning a visit to Finzel Swamp? Before your trip, download our self-guided audio tour to your handheld device. It's like having a naturalist in your pocket!
- Step 1: Download the Finzel Swamp audio tour map and topic chart. This map and chart will help identify which audio tracks to play based on your location on the trail, so make sure to take a copy with you on your trip.
- Step 2: Download and save the mp3 audio files to your handheld device. Play the corresponding track when you reach a waypoint along the trail. Listen to them all or pick & choose based on your interests! Need a little help saving the files? Check out our step-by-step guide!
Audio Files (all MP3)
6.1 First Bridge
8. Swamp Rose
12. Water Plants
14. Important Birds
15. Last Bridge
16. Pass the Gate
- From Washington's Capital Beltway (I-495), take I-270 North. Take I-70 West:
- From Baltimore (I-695), take I-70 West:
- Near Hancock, take I-68 West. Past Frostburg, take Routh 546 North 1.7 miles towards the Town of Finzel. Turn right onto a dirt road on the north side of the recreation park and baseball field. After the ballpark, where four driveways converge, take the second one from the left. Follow this road for .6 mile to the preserve sign and gate. Park in front of the gate leading to the preserve.