Scenic Run: The beauty of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

I took this photo during my run at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge after turning around at the end of Wildlife Drive. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I took a photo during a run at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County back in February 2014 and captioned it “Why I love running” on Facebook.

I enjoyed a run there with a group of friends, which was very early in the morning, around sunrise. It was beautiful, and I’ve been meaning to go back.

I decided this past Monday — when I had off work for Veterans Day — would be a good opportunity to return to this Eastern Shore site. I slept in some, so I drove there pretty much in the middle of the day, getting my run started later than is ideal.

I remembered Wildlife Drive being scenic, so I decided to run there. The road is 4.5 miles, and most of it is one-way. It’s a very pretty run, and there are times you’re surrounded by water on both sides.

It’s pretty quiet, too — there were some cars, but not a ton.

This photo shows water on both sides of the road. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I parked near the Key Wallace Trail, which I’ll have to run another time, and headed a little more than a quarter mile to the Wildlife Drive entrance.

There’s a self-service pay station, where it’s $1 for pedestrians or $3 for vehicles. I only had a $5, but I didn’t mind making the extra donation. I knew it would cost money, and I didn’t make an extra effort to find a $1, although I’d recommend bringing some single bills, since there is not a place to get change.

I headed up to the Marsh Edge Trail, which is a third of a mile, ran there, and then headed toward the observation site. I then turned around and followed the rest of Wildlife Drive, aside from one small part that went back toward Key Wallace Drive. When I reached the end, I turned around and headed back.

Using the self-timer, I got a photo of myself running toward a photo blind. 

I was originally planning to run 10 miles, but I was hungry, since I started my run too late, and also had to go to the bathroom, so I decided to call it a day at nine. I was happy with getting in nine miles on a Monday.

I took the run at a leisurely pace, stopping for photos and not worrying about going fast.

There were other trails I didn’t get a chance to run — the Woods Trail, which is right off Wildlife Drive, the Tubman Road Trail, which can be seen on this map, and the Key Wallace Trail that I parked by. The Key Wallace Trail is the longest of the trails, at 2.7 miles.

Here’s a link to the Wildlife Drive brochure, which shows a map.

When I reached the end of Wildlife Drive, I could also see the building at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park. I wanted to get something to eat once I got back to the car, but I have been wanting to check this park out, and I definitely plan to return to it.

Here’s another view of the scenery at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge isn’t really near anything, aside from the national park I just mentioned. It is nearly an hour drive from where I live in Salisbury, and even close to 30 minutes from Cambridge. However, I would definitely recommend taking the trip out here.

I think this photo was taken at the observation area at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Because it’s so remote and I was running alone, I did bring along a SABRE Runner Defense Spray that I’m testing for BibRave. There’s more to come on that later.

Learn more about Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge here. If you are planning to visit, please check this page on the website about dates Wildlife Drive will be closed for hunting. If you find this long after it’s been published, still check the Blackwater website before you drive out there.

It’s not every day you see natural views like this on a run! (Vanessa Junkin photo)

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