|Cecil Birding Hotspots
Elk Neck State Forest
||Elk Neck State Forest lies just
southeast of the town of North East;
do not confuse with Elk Neck State Park, which is about 11 miles away
the tip of Elk Neck, or with Elk Forest WMA, which is on the
side of the C&D Canal near Chesapeake City.
3,500 acre forest was planted as a demonstration forest in the
1940's with the intention of logging, but was never cut because of poor
timber quality. There are several separate tracts: the main
tract is off Irishtown Road; another large tract lies at Black
and is accessed from McKinneytown Road.
forest is available to the public for hunting and hiking, and has
public rifle and archery ranges.
A network of dirt roads and a portion of the Mason-Dixon Trail as well
as hunter access trails pass through the main tract on Irishtown Road,
which may be birded from the car or on foot. The Black Hill tract
is open to foot traffic along a trail that leads to a fire observation
tower (closed to the public). Another trail at Black Hill is
habitat is second-growth mixed deciduous and evergreen trees, with
an understory of mountain laurel, native azaleas, and other native
The understory is dense in many places, providing excellent nesting
A portion of the main tract is adjacent to the county landfill and
species that prefer open or scrubby areas. A pond formed by
Plum Run lies in the central part of the main tract; the dam has
now been breached and may be crossed on foot (with difficulty) but not
|How to get there
||To reach the main tract from the
town of North East, take Rt. 272 (Main
Street) south. On the south edge of town, watch for Irishtown
and a sign indicating the state forest. Turn left (east) onto
Road. Follow Irishtown Road to the forest entrance at the second
dirt road on the left, just past Timberlane Drive on the right.
first dirt road on the left leads into the forest maintainance area).
reach the Black Hill tract, take Rt. 272 south from the town of North
East and turn left (east) onto McKinneytown Road. Watch for a
head marked by a yellow gate on the right. Park at the gate but do not
||De Lorme MD State Atlas
Book: map page 77 - grid C6;
also map page 78 - grid C1.
ADC Cecil County Map Book: map page 16; grid K1 (main
tract entrance); map page 16, grid F7 (Black Hill
Google map - click here for
main tract on Irishtown Rd
here for Google map for Black Hill tract
|What to do
||At the entrance to the main
tract, consult the trail map posted
on the board to the right of the road. Sometimes there are maps in the
box to take with you
in to the main tract on the entrance road (signposted as Trail
1 - all the dirt roads are referred to as trails by the forest
At the top of the first steep hill, watch for a pull-out with parking
a green gate on the left. Park and walk down the obvious trail
miles to a wooden observation tower, looking out over the wooded
down to the North East River and Chesapeake Bay. In spring, watch
and listen for Pine Warblers, kinglets, and others. Worm-eating
and Hooded Warblers nest on the hillside just below the tower.
to the car and continue down Trail 1 past the shooting and archery
Stop, look and listen along the way.
hunter access foot trails branch off the dirt roads, and the
Trail (blue-blazed) crosses the car roads at several points, so those
wish to hike can explore these foot trails. Park anywhere along
shoulder but do not block any gates or campsites.
past the shooting and archery ranges, follow Trail 1 around a sharp
right turn. The next section, with short scrubby vegetation on
left, lies adjacent to the landfill and can be good for Whip-poor-wills
and owls after dark in spring and summer. Continue to the
with Trail 2 on the right, and turn right to reach Plum Creek
Trail 2 used to continue over the dam, but is now closed to cars at the
pond. Park and walk the nature trail that runs counter-clockwise
around the pond. You will have to scramble over the rocks of the
dam to return to your car.
your route up Trail 2 and turn right onto Trail 1 to explore
the rest of the forest along Trails 3 and 4, which intersect with Trail
1 further on. All the trails are dead ends and you will have to
around to return to the forest entrance. In winter, the roads are
usually gated closed at the shooting/archery range, but may still be
The forest is open for deer and other hunting, so be aware of hunting
seasons and do not walk in when shooting may be in progress.
bird the Black Hill tract, park at the yellow gate on
Road (do not block the gate) and walk in on the well-maintained trail
the observation tower. This is a one-way trail and you will have
to retrace your steps to return to your car.
|Birds to look
Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet,
Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, woodpeckers including
and spring migration: lots of migrant warblers, vireos, thrushes.
and summer: Hooded Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Pine Warbler,
Ovenbird, Black & White Warbler, Wood Thrush, and Red-eyed,
and Yellow-throated Vireos, Scarlet Tanager.
||Open to the public during daylight
hours every day of the year;
although roads may be closed in bad weather. No fee for day
use. Pit toilets are available at the shooting range.
|What to bring
||Hiking or walking shoes,
binoculars. Scope not necessary.
||Easy to moderate. There are
a few steep hills and gravelly footing.
||During hunting season
it is best to visit on Sundays, when hunting is prohibited. This
area is isolated but you can bird from the car.
Neck State Park/Turkey Point,
North East Town Park, Turkey Point.
||Telephone the Elk Neck State
Forest Office at (410) 287-5675.
1999, 2007 Cecil Bird
Club; All rights reserved. May be printed for personal use
but may not be reproduced in any form for mass or commercial
without permission of the Executive
of the Cecil Bird Club.