Hiking in Historic Pemberton Park

Pemberton Park is an historic park, just outside of Salisbury MD; the site of the former Pemberton Plantation, the historic house, built in 1741, still stands and is open for tours most weekends.

But what really drew us to the park was the opportunity to explore its trail system, which takes you through a variety of ecosystems unique to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the Delmarva Peninsula. 

The park’s 262 acres offers 4.5 miles of Maryland nature trails. We spent a few hours there exploring the trail system, which all interconnect (we traveled several portions twice). 

Although we encountered several trail runners doing the trail loops, overall the trails weren’t too crowded. Almost entirely level, this isn’t strenuous hiking — just a walk in the woods, although it wasn’t always wooded. One of the boardwalks takes you out in the sun along the boundary between the forest swamp and the marsh.

The trails, if you explore them all — easy to do in a morning of hiking — provide you the opportunity to explore unique ecosystems that bring together tidal and fresh water wetlands, fresh water ponds, upland pines, hardwood forests and meadows.

As you walk the trails of this beautiful little park, you’re literally walking on history. One of the trails follow the path of an historic road to Salisbury, now all but forgotten. 

One of the trails brings you through land which once served as a pasture for the Handy’s cattle in the 18th century. Now a marsh, thanks to rising sea levels, instead of cows you’ll likely see red-wing black birds and other wetland birds. 

Occasionally, you’ll see overlooks, where you can relax a moment and enjoy seeing the river or the marsh. It was at one of these overlooks that we noticed a pileated woodpecker doing its thing. We watched it for a full ten minutes before it flew away.

Some of the trails take you along board walks over the boggy ground, although the day we were there — a day after the remnants of Hurricane Dorian had dumped many inches of rain on Wicomico County — the water levels were high, and we sometimes walked through water and mud.

Know before you go: For more information about the trails at Pemberton Park, click here. You’re walking in or along marsh and standing water, so you’ll want to apply bug spray amply.

Getting there: 5561 Plantation Ln, Salisbury, MD 21801

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset.

Website: https://www.pembertonpark.org/pemberton-park/index.htm

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