Elk Forest Wildlife Management Area is a remote area in Cecil County Maryland, at the end of Elk Forest Road, where the Delaware and Maryland Canal feeds into the Elk River.
The WMA and Elk Forest Road is accessible off at Maryland State Route 213. If you are heading south on 213, the turn off is at a stop sign just before the Chesapeake City Bridge. Stay to the right at the first fork in the road to stay on Elk Forest.
The Elk Forest WMA is at the end of the road, but I have never been there. The area has the customary WMA sign for Maryland locations, but “no parking” and “no tresspassing” and “private property” signs all around it, as well. There is nowhere close to park and walk in, so I am pretty sure the WMA is off limits to the public.
However, there is a parking area at the head of an unmarked road, about 2.5 miles before the WMA, on Elk Forest Road. The sign in the lot designates the area as hunting ground, dedicated and preserved by the U.S. Army Corps on Engineers. It goes without saying you should be aware of hunting seasons (usually Sept 15 to February 1 in Maryland), but any other time of year, this forest makes a great substitute for the WMA.
A graveled, dirt road will lead you on a one-mile walk through a tree-lined hunter’s trail down to the waters edge. Along the way, there are at least two prominent cutouts to your right. The first is the fishing hole in the photo above, and the second is a wider opening, lined with several tall stalks and tree branches. The water’s edge in this clearing is protected by a wall of punks, but the area is a perfect perching spot for Osprey, hawks or Eagles that enjoy naked tree limbs. If you’re patient and quiet, you have a good chance of catching one of these birds or a Turkey vulture on a fly by.
The range of wildlife you can capture on a typical summer walk, is amazing. The swampy wetland to the right is an ideal area for dragonflies and other swamp-loving insects, but also features toads, turtles, small fish, snakes and water friendly rodents like muskrats. Some of them have moved too fast for me to photo, but I was never disappointed on a trip to Elk Forest.
The forest ceiling can be a continual cover, but opens up in certain areas where you have a good chance of catching a flyover from any one of the birds I mentioned above.
The bushes and trees lining your walk provide multiple opportunities for insect macro photography. Many large bushes and stalks with thick limbs can host ants, spiders, beetles … etc. In this way, it reminds me a lot of Millington WMA.
In the summer, butterflies will be all over the leaves, air and ground. So it’s a good spot for them as well.
When you get to the end of the one mile trail, the forest opens up at a T-intersection. If you head to the right, you’ll walk along a grass covered path, with a tree line separating you from the Delaware and Maryland Canal to the left. The path eventually bends to the left at another opening as you wrap around the tree line to get to the water’s edge.
From here, you can walk a path along the water east toward the Chesapeake City Bridge. The photo above gives a great example of the view you can get, if you climb down along the rocky water’s edge.
The path may feature small mammals like rabbits, as well as insects and small birds. It’s an amazing spot to catch larger soaring birds. Egrets, Osprey and Vulture may all pass by, making their way across and along the canal.
Eventually, you can turn back at Boat Yard Road. The path will wind itself back for you and allow you to get back to the main trail.
The Google Map below shows the walking trails well, though they are not marked by name.
If you’re in the Cecil County area, I highly recommend Elk Forest. It’s a great spot that’s easy to get to, provides many opportunties for wildlife viewing and has a great trail along the canal with some fanastic visuals.
My Tracks for Elk Forest WMA
View Elk Forest Return in a larger map