We went to check out Assateague Island based on the recommendations from the Pearl Market. The park spans the border of Maryland and Virginia. We decided to go to the Virginia side, as it was closer. The Virginia part of the park is also the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
We stopped first to see the beach (Atlantic Ocean) and the Visitors Center. The Center was closed, but they did have maps, passport stamps, and a Ranger there to ask questions. The park has hiking trails, the beach for swimming (does not always have a lifeguard), and allows fishing/crabbing.
Virginia fences the horses to keep them away from roads, which is good but also means that the horses are farther away. At times, it seemed like you were just looking at a farm/ranch’s fenced in horses. Maryland does not fence the horses, so they do wander into the road, etc.
We did a couple of hiking trails (the Woodlands and Lighthouse). Both trails were either nicely paved, a boardwalk, or pretty even dirt paths. The Woodlands trail wandered through the woods and had a few areas to view the horses if they were nearby. The Lighthouse trail had a vault toilet and a parking lot, and (surprisingly) led to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was closed, although you could walk around it. The one thing I wished they did was put the trail lengths on the maps. There was a map at each trail head sign, plus the ranger gave us a trail map at the Visitor Center; however, neither of the maps, nor the app, had the trail lengths listed. When I looked later, I did find the trail lengths on a separate website. We had a nice time walking around.
We did not get to the Wildlife Loop, as it is pretty long and we would have had to wait for a couple more hours to drive it. It is open only for walking or bicycles until 3:00 pm. After 3:00 pm, you can drive the Loop.
We had a pretty mild day, but in the summer I would bring lots of water, sunscreen, and bug spray. The Ranger told us the mosquitoes are horrible when it gets warmer.
- TICKETS: Included with Interagency Pass (America The Beautiful annual), or $10/1 day, $25/7days. There is also a refuge annual pass option and a beach parking pass option. COVID Restrictions: masks required/social distancing. Visitor Centers closed, lighthouse closed.
- HOURS: Park hours vary based on season. January-March 15th 6:00 am-6:00 pm, March 15th-April 6:00 am-8:00 pm. May-September 15th 5:00 am-10:00 pm, September 15-October 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, November-December 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. The Visitor Center also has different hours of operation.
- PARKING: Yes
- BATHROOM: Yes
- TIME RECOMMENDED: 1-3 hours
- *Details correct at the time of posting, but please double check before you go.