Pemberton Nature Trail

Trail System

Pemberton Historical Park is comprised of 262 acres and 4.5 miles of nature trails, offering visitors the opportunity to explore unique ecosystems that bring together tidal and fresh water wetlands, fresh water ponds, upland pines, hardwood forests and meadows.

The trails at Pemberton Park are restricted to walking and hiking only. Due to safety concerns, no biking is permitted.

Pick up a trail guide in the Welcome Area which outlines each loop of the trail, describes its major ecosystems and denotes any significant features that may be found along the way.

Park Trail Guide

History Trail

(.5 miles - 20 minutes walking time)
Fronting the water, this linear trail takes visitors to the narrows of a tidal gut once bridged by a dam and causeway. The resulting impounded waters may have provided ice for the Handy’s ice house. Further west, the trail passes by the invisible remains of Mulberry’s Landing Wharf. Discovered by underwater archeology and dated through dendrochronology, the wharf dates to 1746 and is the oldest documented of its type in the country. On land, the trail is shaded by White Cedar Trees (Cedar Cypress). Early colonists made boats from this highly rot-resistant wood.

Woodland Trail

(1.1 miles - 35 minutes of walking time)
The towering trees of the upland pine forest create a cathedral-like feeling along this tranquil trail. Across the pond stands a young forest of loblolly and Virginia pines. Once a cultivated field, the young forest is now the home of many songbirds.

Pondside Trail

(1.0 mile - 30 minutes walking time)
Circling the Bell Creek Pond, this trail offers visitors views of local wildlife. Hundreds of bullfrogs can be heard during the spring and summer months. On the pond’s east side, the Sarbanes Memorial Grove offers beautiful views of wild flowers when in season. A quaint picnic area along the trail offers the view of a solitary bald cypress tree growing on the small pond island.

Wetland Walk (via Handy Hall Trail)

(.2 miles - 5 minutes walking time)
View land which once served as a pasture for the Handy’s cattle in the 18th century while traveling this trail, which rising sea levels have transformed into a marsh. A raised observation platform allows for the viewing of mosquito fish or the fingerlings of much larger river fish that spawn in the shallows of the swamp. These tidal wetlands serve a vital purpose, as they filter pollution and sediments from upstream before they reach the Wicomico River or Chesapeake Bay.

Handy Hall Trail

(.7 miles - 20 minutes walking time)
Following in the footsteps of history, portions of this trail are laid upon an 18th century travel road that led to Salisbury. The road passed by Handy Hall, the 1750s home of Isaac Handy’s son George. Travelers can enjoy a shaded walk under a canopy of pine woodland, amidst the remains of once-grand American Chestnut Trees, which were wiped out by blight in the early 20th century.

Bell Island Trail

(1.2 miles - 45 minutes walking time)
In the 18th century, Bell Island, then referred to as “The Commons,” was used as a pasture for the Handy family’s cattle. In the 19th century it became home to the plantation’s icehouse. Overlook spots at the marsh and on the riverfront are great places to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of the wetlands and Wicomico River.

Osprey Trail

(.3 miles - 15 minutes walking time)
Accessed via the Bell Island Trail, the aptly named Osprey Trail offers views of wildlife living within the river’s marshlands. Visitors can break at the trail’s Wicomico River Overlook, which offers a scenic glimpse of the major estuary before it flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Washed by the tides, the edges of the river provide habitat for a great variety of life.

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