Trip Report: Hiking on the Beach in Winter: Assateague

Photo Credit: Dmitri

When I first did the Assateague trip, I was struck by how different the hiking experience was compared to other trails. There are no hills to climb, and you have a constant view the whole time. The scenery though can be rewarding and avoiding bugs in the area by hiking in the winter is a bonus! One downside is that there is no potable water so you have to carry your water for the entire trip (another reason to hike this in the winter). With that mindset, I posted the trip. We had enough interest for us to be able to split into two groups and do a key swap at camp, thereby avoiding a long shuttle to setup and undo. 

Some logistical info for future planners: camping is only allowed on the MD side and permits are required for camping. Permits can be obtained on the day of hiking at either a) the Ranger station right after the park entrance on the MD side; or b) Tom’s Cove Visitor Center on the VA side. The National Park pass can be used, so make sure to bring it if you have one, or pay a fee for overnight parking. Permits cost $10 and are only given upto 4 hours before sunset. Lastly, if the weather conditions are bad, the authorities may not issue permits. Luckily, we got ours easily and avoided the fate of prior trips on the permit/shuttle front 😉 

The 24 mile hike itself isn’t easy and I felt some of the leg muscles, as they were constantly used due to the flat nature of the terrain. We saw numerous jeeps/SUVs driving along the beach line on the MD side (it is permitted), considerably higher than my first trip here in 2014. In contrast, the VA side was quieter and offered a glimpse of 2 dead dolphins (whales?) on the shoreline. The temps were in the 30s/40s, with constant 10-20 mph winds. Despite being a cloudy day, the beach scenery was nice. 

My group – Faceplant, Wolverine, Willy Wonka and I – hiked SOBO and we met the NOBO group – Mr. Woo, David O, Yvette, Dmitri, and John at camp. Both groups arrived at camp simultaneously and it was fun to exchange beach tales and catch-up. We opted to camp at Pope Bay – a great campsite in the middle of the trip with a fire-ring and good pit toilets. Dmitri brought desserts to celebrate his birthday. 

All in all, we had a great time. For future reference, we scoped 2 great places to eat in Salisbury: East Side Deli & Johnny’s Subs.

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