Finzel Swamp is located in a frost pocket, creating a landscape more reminiscent of habitat found much further north in Canada.
Finzel Swamp Preserve Finzel Swamp is located in a frost pocket, creating a landscape more reminiscent of habitat found much further north in Canada. © Kent Mason

Places We Protect

Finzel Swamp Preserve

Maryland / DC

Finzel Swamp is a reminder of Maryland life 15,000 years ago.

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.

Before You Go

Download the Finzel Preserve Visitors Guide (pdf)

View Preserve Guidelines

Why TNC 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.

The Central Appalachians harbor the most diverse community of salamanders in the world, and pristine Finzel Swamp provides a perfect sanctuary: varied habitat, moisture, and clean water. 


Before You Go

Download the Finzel Preserve Visitors Guide (pdf)

View Preserve Guidelines

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.

The population of American larch trees is one of only two remaining populations in Maryland.  American larch has been lost in four places in the state due to changes in climate as well as changes in natural water flow or hydrology. 

We have worked tirelessly to restore the natural hydrology of Finzel Swamp so that the American larch and other important species can thrive. 

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. 
Forested wetlands at Finzel Swamp Preserve
Finzel Swamp
A reminder of Maryland life 15,000 years ago, this 'frost pocket' captures moisture and cold air to create a landscape where visitors can see animals such as saw-whet owls, bobcats and wild turkeys.

Finzel Swamp Preserve 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.

Geocaching is a fast-growing hobby that provides an exciting way to explore the outdoors. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS, and can then share their experiences online. 

It's a great way for kids to connect with nature and learn navigation skills, with the fun reward of finding real hidden treasure.

There is one geocache at Finzel:

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We invite you to explore the Conservancy's natural areas in this fun and free way.  It's a great hobby, and you may learn a little about our work as you play!

Watch this video to learn more about geocaching.

Log on to www.geocaching.com to set up a free account and start the hunt for geocaches placed by MarylandTNC

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Please keep these tips in mind during your outing:

  • Caches are only accessible during normal hours of operation.
  • Stay on marked trails at all times.
  • Please leave pets at home.  Dogs are not allowed on any Conservancy preserve.
  • Do not litter; used marked receptacles to dispose of any trash.
  • Please respect the land; do not remove plants, animals, artifacts, or rocks.
  • For your safety and comfort, bring drinking water, hats, sun protection, bug repellent and use appropriate footwear.

New geocaches are not permitted on Conservancy preserves.  These sites were carefully selected for their accessibility and low impact to the environment.  For questions about geocaching at The Nature Conservancy’s preserves in Maryland, please contact Deborah Barber at dbarber@tnc.org.

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! 
Tour Stops / Audio Files (mp3)

1. Introduction

2. Finzel Overview

3. Starting the Trail

4. The Edge of the Forest

5. Swamp Vegetation

6.1 First Bridge

6.2 Color of the Water

7. Spring season and frogs

8. Swamp Rose

9. Pass the First Bridge

10. Food for Migrating Birds

11. Tamarack Tree - Second Bridge

12. Water Plants

13. Beaver - Third Bridge

14. Important Birds

15. Last Bridge

16. Pass the Gate

17. Succession at the Gate

18. Finzel through the Seasons

19. Pond and Live in the Water

20. Habitats of Finzel Swamp

21. Serviceberry

22. Rare Butterfly - Fourth Bridge

23. After Second Bridge - Plants

24. Skunk Cabbage and Bear

25. Climate and Pollens

Digging into the Past A Frostburg State University graduate student is rebuilding the history of plants from thousands of years ago.