Pilot Serpentine Barren

One of only four remaining examples of this natural community in Maryland.

Pilot Serpentine Barren is named after its unusual serpentine bedrock.  An open, dry grassland surrounded by forest, Pilot is an excellent example of how an area's geology determines a natural community's character.  Soils here are thin and nutrient poor but rich in minerals.  This environment combined with a dry, hot microclimate results in an unusual community of plants adapted to the serpentine barren.

Visiting the Preserve
This preserve is only open to scientific research with prior permission from The Nature Conservancy, because of the fragility of the serpentine barren habitat.  Even a few visitors can damage the plants, animals, and natural communities that live here.  Thank you for your understanding and help in protecting Pilot Serpentine Barren.

Northern Cecil County

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Pilot Serpentine Barren Preserve is one of only four remaining examples of this federally endangered barren natural community.

What the Conservancy Is Doing Here

  • 32 acres protected by the Conservancy since 1985 and an additional 60 acres under management agreement with our preserve neighbor
  • Controlled burns conducted since 1991
  • Serpentine grassland habitat restoration


  • Fameflower (a state-rare species)
  • Serpentine aster (a nationally rare species, only found on serpentine soils)
  • Prairie dropseed