Stories in Maryland/DC

Preserve Guidelines

Observe and enjoy Maryland's public preserves.

A woman with binoculars enjoys a morning bird walk.
Morning Bird Walk Enjoying a morning bird outing on the Blue Mash Trail, Maryland. © Daniel White/TNC

The Nature Conservancy’s preserves are set aside to protect natural plant and animal communities. We invite you to observe and enjoy these preserves.

Every visitor has an impact. Please follow these guidelines to protect yourself and nature.

  • Preserves are open to the public during daylight hours. 
  • Passive recreation such as walking, bird watching and photography is welcomed.  
The following activities are not allowed:
  • Bringing dogs onto the preserve
  • Picking flowers, mushrooms, etc.
  • Removing rocks or other parts of the landscape
  • Smoking
  • Camping, fires or cookouts
  • Driving motorized vehicles, including ATV’s, except on designated access roads
  • Biking
  • Fishing, trapping or hunting, except as otherwise posted
  • Horseback riding
  • Feeding wildlife
  • Releasing animals or introducing plants
  • Disposing of trash or other waste, including biodegradable materials
  • Use trails.
  • Avoid walking in wet, boggy areas.
  • Inspect pant legs and shoes to remove seeds before entering and when leaving the preserve. Failure to do so could introduce unwanted weeds to new locations.
  • If you flush a ground-nesting bird, stop and avoid walking near the nest area.
  • Observe all posted signs.
  • Please do not remove stakes, signs, flagging, tape or other objects; they might be part of a research project.
  • Please do not trespass on private property adjacent to the preserve.

For your own comfort and enjoyment, come prepared. Wear comfortable shoes for hiking. Pack rain gear and wear long pants with socks over them to protect yourself from ticks and poison ivy.

Bring along insect repellent and sunscreen for protection. Always remember to carry a water bottle for thirst quenching. And, of course, bring your binoculars, camera, field guide and a compass.


Several TNC nature preserves in Maryland include hunting leases for deer management. Visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to find information on hunting season, licenses and access on public lands. When visiting a TNC nature preserve during hunting season, please wear blaze orange and try to avoid visiting in the early morning or evening hours when hunting is most active. For additional guidelines on how you can hike safely during the hunting season, visit the American Hiking Society.


When you get home, plan to drop your clothing directly in the laundry and do a tick check before you shower. Deer ticks, the type that carry lyme disease, are about the size of a pinhead and tend to attach in hair, under ears, underarms, trunk of the body, groin and backs of the knees.

Remove them by gently pulling with tweezers and wipe the skin near the bite with a mild disinfectant. If, within 7-10 days after exposure, you experience a rash (especially an expanding "bull's eye" rash), chills, fever, headache, stiff neck, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and/or aching joints and muscles, contact your doctor.

You can find more information on lyme disease at or by calling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (404) 332-4555.


Please keep this contact information handy based on the reason for visiting one of our nature preserves.

  • Contact Andy Freeman ( for questions about Maryland/DC’s land protection activities and public preserves and visitation.
  • Contact Deborah Barber ( to report a problem at a TNC preserve or to request permission to conduct research on a TNC preserve.
  • Contact Donnie Simmons (301-302-9540 or for questions about deer hunting at TNC preserves in Garrett, Allegany and Washington Counties.
  • Contact Kenny Rees (410-219-3718 or for questions about deer hunting at TNC preserves on the Eastern Shore.

If you observe any illegal activity on a nature preserve, such as ATV use, do not confront the offenders yourself. Instead, please call local law enforcement.

Learn More About Our Preserves

Before your trip, download one of our many self-guided audio tours to your handheld device. It's like having a naturalist in your pocket!