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Hiking the Wicomico Demonstration State Forest

Posted by Shorebread | Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On the outskirts of Parsonsburg, MD, there are 3,625 acres of land filled with trees, brush, and wildlife – all waiting to be explored. The Wicomico Demonstration State Forest is located between Route 50 and Route 353, just 10 miles east of Salisbury. Sixty Foot Road runs perpendicular to the two state roads, intersecting them both, and cutting straight through the State Forest. 

The forest headquarters are located on Sixty Foot Road, about 1.5 miles from Route 50. Live-in rangers can offer some advice on navigating through the woods and give some information about local tree species and things to look for. All but a few small areas of the demonstrational forest are open for public use. Some marked areas are closed to the public and hunters. Cleared, unmarked hiking trails run throughout the complex.
 
The network of unmarked trails and sand roads provide access for hiking as well as seasonal hunting. The primarily forested land is used by the Maryland Forest Service to demonstrate various timber management techniques and practices. Forest managers watch and monitor the forest carefully in case of conditional changes, like signs of stress or decline. Quick and well thought-out management actions can be taken to restore the forest’s conditions if any situations were to arise.
 
Over Easter weekend, after my family packed up and traveled back to their homes after a delicious dinner, I had a chance to enjoy the 72-degree weather and sunshine. I had to wipe a thick sheet of yellow powdery pollen from my windshield before hopping in my car and embarking on a trip to the Wicomico Demonstrational State Forest. 
 
The forest is a great place to get lost – in a loose sense of the phrase, although it would be really easy to get lost in the trees – and get in touch with nature. Long packed sand paths connect different trails thought out the woods. Occasionally, there are parking areas, pull offs that allow for passing cars, and signs setting rules for hunters. Just pick a spot to park and start walking down a trail. Don’t forget your route; everything begins to look the same after you’ve been wandering around aimlessly for a while. 
 
The forest is used to collect ecological information on timber volumes, growth rates, and species characteristics. The Wicomico Demonstrational State Forest is classified as a sustainable forest. A sustainable forest is one that is home to trees, shrubs, wildflowers, birds, fish, and other forms of wildlife. Records are kept in regards to soil samples, water and air purification, ground water recharging, and other ecological factors that affect the life of trees. A Sustainable Management Plan has been in place since 2007 that applies to our local forest.
 
There are more than 160 native or naturalized tree species found in the state of Maryland. After passing some of the largest Loblolly and Cypress trees you’ve ever seen, you’ll be glad you printed the map below and stashed it in your pocket.
 
 
It seems as though Maryland has the perfect climate to grow territorial trees found only north or south of MD borders. Our forests mark the farthest north that Loblolly trees and Bald Cypress varieties can be found.
 
The Maryland State tree, the White Oak, grows in abundance in the Wicomico Demonstrational State Forest. The White Oak is the only tree that can be found growing in all counties across the state. Yellow Poplar also grows in abundance in Wicomico County. It is Maryland’s largest species by volume. Oak and Hickory trees dominate the forest and occupy roughly 60% of protected forestland.
 
Much of the trees that are found in this state forest complex will be chopped down for timber. This may sounds extreme, but don’t fret. Once the trees are cut and used for timberland, more trees will be replanted to replace their elders. The tree growing-harvesting process is never-ending.
 
I only noticed one spot on my adventure through the forest that day that looked as though it had been recently timbered. I only trekked about 2 miles on the trails cleared of brush that day, so I could have missed some more harvested areas. I love seeing the tiny saplings raising their newly-formed limbs toward the sunshine under the bigger, stronger, aged trees. There are lots of saplings sprouting right now.
 
Promise me that you’ll wear long pants, long sleeves, a hat, and lots of bug repellant; it’s officially tick season and they’re ready for dinner. After hiking through the woods for 2 hours, my dog and I had 10 ticks total on our limbs combined. The ticks really are bad around here; just a precautionary warning about hiking in wooded areas throughout Delmarva.
 
If you’re looking for a nice place to partake in an outdoor adventure on the shore, check out the Wicomico Demonstration State Forest. Take a hike in celebration of National Arbor Day. This tree-lovers holiday occurs on the last Friday of the month: April 27th.
 
Check out the gallery below for some photos from the Wicomico Demonstration State Forest or visit the ShoreBread Outdoor Adventures Photo Gallery for photos from other outdoor excursions on the shore.
 
Take a look at some of my other local outdoor adventures by clicking the links below:



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