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Maryland/DC

Nassawango Creek Preserve


Dominated by bald cypress and black gum, the massive trees of this primeval forest envelop visitors with ample shade and security. The preserve is one of the northernmost remaining examples of a bald cypress swamp.  With your support, the Conservancy has worked since 1978 to protect 14,787 acres of swamp and upland forest along Nassawango Creek.  Nassawango Creek Preserve includes 9,953 acres of this land.

Why You Should Visit

Nassawango is home to an abundant array of wildlife and native plants, including many species of orchids and warblers.  This tannin-stained waterway is steeped in early American history and one of the most beautiful and tranquil places in Maryland. From Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Nassawango Creek flows southward into Pocomoke River, a major tributary to the Chesapeake Bay.

With more than 60 recorded species of migratory birds, such as the scarlet tanager, yellow-throated vireos and prothonotary warbler, there’s no doubt that Nassawango Creek is a critical stopover point for migratory birds.

View full preserve guidelines.  Please note: dogs are not allowed at any Conservancy preserve.

eBird Observations

Click here for Preserve Visitors Guide (PDF).

Nassawango Creek abuts portions of Pocomoke State Forest, a nearly 15,000-acre forest of loblolly pine and cypress swamps. Large, intact forests also serve as corridors for large mammals, such as deer, and help sustain the overall health of the forest by allowing the forest to survive and recover from destructive events such as hurricanes and wild fires. Along the boundary of Nassawango Creek Preserve is Furnace Town, an historic village.

Bobcat, mink, fox, and a host of interior forest nesting bird species thrive here as a result of maturity, ecological integrity, and relative scarcity of harmful invasive plants and animals. Rare plants such as pink lady’s slipper, cardinal flower, and Indian pipe color the forest floor.


Current Conservation At Work
  • The Conservancy planted 120 native saplings, a mixture of persimmon and pin oak trees, on a former farm field at Nassawango Creek. The trees, donated to the Conservancy from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, are good food sources for migratory birds. Once fully grown the trees planted also will help reduce the instance of noxious weeds and provide better connected forests in the preserve.
  • Learn about the role of prescribed fire in the landscape in this radio interview with conservation ecologist Deborah Landau.
  • At several bogs deep within the preserve, our stewardship staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to thin encroaching hardwoods to make room for native vegetation. We have already seen a resurgence of pitcher plants, rare grasses and rare sedges growing in the bog.
  • We completed an extensive bird and vegetation survey to guide our future restoration work and to aid our conservation partners in their habitat classification efforts.
  • In January 2009, the Conservancy negotiated the organization’s largest-ever transaction in Maryland to protect the 4,769-acre Foster property — a sound investment that will produce ecologic, cultural and economic dividends far into the future. 
  • Since 1979, the Nassawango Stewardship Committee has maintained the frontlines of the preserve and is one of the oldest committees in all Nature Conservancy properties throughout the world. To be a part of this dynamic committee, please contact Joe Fehrer, preserve manager, as jfehrer@tnc.org.

We’re grateful for the enthusiastic support for our efforts at Nassawango! Will you renew your commitment today?


Nassawango Creek Audio Tours

Planning a visit to Nassawango Creek Preserve? Before your trip, download our self-guided audio tours to your handheld device. It's like having a naturalist there with you in person! We have two tours available: the Johnson Tract and the Leifer Trail.

1) Johnson Tract Audio Tour

In this audio tour, the Conservancy's Deborah Landau, conservation ecologist, describes our prescribed burn program, Atlantic white cedar restoration and the importance of giving back to the community through certified forestry operations.

Step 1: Download the Johnson Tract audio tour map. This map 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 each of the below mp3 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!

  1. The Johnson Tract
  2. Bridge over Ditch
  3. Atlantic White Cedars
  4. Laura Bankey on Atlantic White Cedars
  5. Deer and Restoration
  6. Fires
  7. Left and Right
  8. Thinning

2) Leifer Trail Audio Tour

In this audio tour, the Conservancy's Deborah Landau, conservation ecologist, discusses hundreds of years of human and natural history at Furnacetown.

Step 1: Download the Leifer Trail audio tour map. This map 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 each of the below mp3 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!

  1. Furnace Town
  2. The Furnace Habitat
  3. Paul Leifer Trailhead
  4. Mining
  5. Pink Lady's-slippers
  6. Floodplain
  7. Bald Cypress
  8. Furnace Canal and Xeric Dunes
  9. Why We Love Our Volunteers

(All files are .mp3 and should download automatically once clicked. If you have trouble downloading, right-click each file and then select 'Save')

If you have any questions about visiting the preserve, please call Joe Fehrer at  (410) 632-4761.

Plan Your Visit

View Full Preserve Guidelines.  Please note: dogs are not allowed at any Conservancy preserve.

What to See: Plants
  • Nassawango is home to an abundant array of native plants, including rare plants such as pink lady’s-slipper, cardinal flower and Indian pipe. A diverse forest of bald cypress, black gum and loblolly pine trees dominate this upland forest.
What to See: Animals
  • With more than 60 recorded species of migratory birds, such as the scarlet tanager, yellow-throated vireos and prothonotary warbler, there’s no doubt that Nassawango Creek is a critical stopover point for migratory birds. Bobcat, mink, deer and fox also thrive here.
What to Do: Take a self-guided tour

Trail Maps

Prothonotary Warbler Trailhead (NEW)  

Download PDF


View Larger Map

Canoeists’ Lunch Spot Trailhead (NEW)

Download PDF


View Larger Map

Nassawango Joe Trailhead (NEW)

Download PDF


View Larger Map

Leifer Trail


View Larger Map

Johnson Tract


View Larger Map

Directions

From Baltimore/Washington

  • Take Route 50 east across the Bay Bridge to Salisbury
  • From Salisbury, go south on Route 12 towards Snow Hill; run right onto Old Furnace road
  • Travel about a mile and you'll find Furnace Town on the left.  Park and check in at the visitor center if it is open
  • The Paul Leifer Trail begins just beyond the old brick furnace at the south end of the village

Directions to the Johnson Tract

  • From Baltimore/Washington, follow directions above to Route 12. After 3.8 miles, turn left onto Spearin Road and follow for 2.9 miles
  • Turn right onto Mount Olive Church Road and follow for .2 miles. Watch on the left for a pipe gate
  • Park outside the gate and walk along the unpaved road

Directions for Canoeists and Kayakers

  • From Baltimore/Washington, follow directions above to Snow Hill.  Instead of turning onto Old Furnace Road, continue on Route 12 for one mile farther south and turn right onto Red House Road
  • After about one mile, park along the road shoulder near the designated parking sign and just before a small bridge.  If you reach a point where the road splits, you have gone too far! 
  • Park along the side of the road where the creek goes under the bridge
  • Launch your canoes and kayaks from this side of the creek, right by the green Nature Conservancy Nassawango Creek Preserve sign. Two yellow "Nature Sanctuary" signs also mark this area

 

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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