Artist Nancy Tankersley works on a plein air oil study of the landscape at King's Creek/Choptank Wetlands preserve.
Landscape Painting Artist Nancy Tankersley works on a plein air oil study of the landscape at King's Creek/Choptank Wetlands preserve. © Mark Godfrey / TNC

Places We Protect

Choptank Wetlands

Maryland / DC

One of the Chesapeake Bay's most important natural areas.

A survey of natural areas conducted by the Smithsonian Institution ranked this marsh system as one of the most important Chesapeake Bay natural areas. King’s Creek, an undisturbed, brackish marsh, is unusually rich in plant species and bird life and provides habitat for nesting waterfowl and spawning fish.

What to Do:

The preserve is open year round for canoeing and birdwatching. Access is permitted by small boats only; overland access is no longer available due to the closure of the boardwalk.  

What to See: Birding

  • Winter: northern harrier, wood duck, snipe
  • Spring: red-winged blackbirds, osprey, least bittern, red-tailed hawks 
Choptank Wetlands
One of the Chesapeake Bay's most important natural areas.

Choptank Wetlands One of the Chesapeake Bay's most important natural areas.

The Nature Conservancy’s preserves are set aside to protect natural plant and animal communities. We invite you to observe and enjoy these preserves, but remember that 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.  Dogs are not permitted at any Conservancy 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.

To minimize your impact, we ask that you please also observe the following

  • 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 some 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.

Tick and mosquito alert

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.

More information

If you want to conduct research on a Nature Conservancy preserve, please share your plans with us and receive permission before starting. Contact Deborah Barber, Director of Land Management, at 301-897-8570 or

If you observe any illegal activity on a preserve such as ATV use, do not confront the offenders yourself. However, do feel free to call local law enforcement.

Enjoy your visit and please report any problems with a preserve to the Maryland Chapter at 301-897-8570.