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Assateague Island National Seashore: Pine Tree Loop

md

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 12.8 miles


Paddle to shoreline solitude, then perch on dunes above the Atlantic.

Hear the wind rustling through eelgrass as the sun sets over the mainland, then feast on fresh-caught clams on this easy, 12-mile, two-day canoe trip along the jigsaw-jagged coast of Assateague Island’s bay.

Rent a canoe and clam rake, tank up on water at the ranger station (there are no springs), and put in at the sandy, grass-fringed launch on Bayside Drive. Assess the wind: A gentle breeze here can mean frothy whitecaps on Sinepuxent Bay’s deep-blue, brackish waters. Head around the sandy tip and paddle southwest for a mile to the lee of Great Egging Island. Continue heading southeast toward Tingles Island, a sequence of shrub-covered islets just off Assateague’s western shore. Cross into Chincoteague Bay, and hug the wax myrtle- and bayberry-covered Lumber Marsh for protection from wind and waves.

Steer right around a narrow, grass-covered finger extending into the bay, and continue toward the low-lying center of Tingles Island one mile south. Weave through a shallow inlet, barely wide enough for your canoe, paddling quietly to avoid scaring the herons that nest here alongside 300 other species of birds. Turn left when you see a square sign pointing toward the Pine Tree campsite at mile 5.8, and head for the thick grove of loblolly pines. Hike .3 mile through the coastal lowlands, and set up camp in a pine-ringed clearing. Strap on your water shoes: It’s time to harvest dinner.

Day two, rise before dawn, pack a thermos of coffee or bring your kitchen gear, and walk a mile along the use path through reedy marshes to a wide swath of sandy beach. Park yourself on a dune overlooking the water, and watch the sun peek over the Atlantic as waves crash onshore. Head back to your canoe and pack up for the return trip. Get a different view of Tingles Island by steering around the western side en route to the launch.

Gear up:
Rent canoes ($60/day) and clam rakes ($15/day) from Maryland Coastal Bays on Bayside Drive. (410) 726-3217; mdcoastalbays.org

Permit: Required; $5, pick up at ranger station. (410) 641-3030; nps.gov/asis

Map: Print nautical chart #12211; charts.noaa.gov

-Mapped by Amy Reinink

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