This tannin-stained waterway is steeped in early American history and one of the most beautiful and tranquil places in Maryland.
Canoeing Nassawango This tannin-stained waterway is steeped in early American history and one of the most beautiful and tranquil places in Maryland. © Alan Eckert Photography

Places We Protect

Nassawango Creek Preserve

Maryland / DC

Climb into a canoe and enjoy a tranquil paddle.

Nassawango Creek is one of the last pieces of true wilderness left on the East Coast.  Dominated by bald cypress and black gum, the massive trees of this primeval forest envelop visitors with ample shade and security. 

The preserve recently celebrated its 40th anniversary! Starting with a gift of 154 acres given by E. Stanton Adkins in 1978, the effort to establish the preserve was spearheaded and led by a group of Worcester County residents who recognized the beauty and diversity of Nassawango Creek and its intrinsic value to the region.

Since those beginnings in 1978, we have worked to protect 14,787 acres of swamp and upland forest along Nassawango Creek. Today the preserve includes 9,953 acres of this land, and is one of the northernmost remaining examples of a bald cypress swamp.

Current Conservation At Work

Since 2009, more than 36,000 Atlantic white cedar trees have been planted at Nassawango Creek Preserve in partnership with the National Aquarium and with the help of the Maryland Conservation Corps. Many of the seedlings were grown in the classrooms of Wicomico and Worcester County middle schools, and the students come out to the preserve every spring to plant their trees.

In 2014, TNC acquired the 693-acre Taylor farm which sits at the headwaters of Nassawango Creek.  We're working with partners to restore 381 acres of Taylor's cropland to forested wetland. An additional 312 acres of forested uplands and wetlands will also be protected.

These restoration efforts will reverse the impacts from extensive drainage, grazing, and crop production. Restoring the natural hydrology will improve the quality of water and habitat in Nassawango Creek and downstream water bodies. 

A long-term monitoring program will allow the Taylor farm to become a “living laboratory”. The data we collect through this restoration will inform our conservation strategies on a larger scale and will be shared with other landowners as we work collaboratively to conserve the productive lands and waters of the Eastern Shore.

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.  View a video from Maryland Outdoors about these efforts (begins at 18:50).

A legacy of support

The Nassawango Creek Stewardship Committee was formed in 1979, and has been going strong ever since!  The committee ranks among the longest-serving groups of preserve volunteers in the history of The Nature Conservancy. 

Contact Joe Fehrer at jfehrer@tnc.org to learn how you can become a part of this dynamic committee and help ensure the ongoing care of this beloved preserve.

Why You Should Visit

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.

Nassawango is home to an abundant array of wildlife and native plants, including many species of orchids and warblers. 

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.  The preserve's Cubler Payne Forest is part of an Audubon Important Birding Area.

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.

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

Paddling on Nassawango Creek
Nassawango Creek Preserve
Nassawango Creek Preserve's majestic balk cypress swamp and upland forests make it one of Maryland's most beautiful and tranquil places.

Nassawango Swamp Preserve Climb into a canoe and paddle along tranquil Nassawango Creek.

Know before you go

We invite you to observe and enjoy our public 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.

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 are three geocaches at Nassawango:

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.

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.

Little Loraxes The next generation of conservationists spend a day at Nassawango planting Atlantic White cedar seedlings.