The 5-mile wildlife drive is an easy ride on flat, mostly quiet roads. If you plan to bike from Cambridge (about 10 miles) or Vienna (about 15 miles), bring water -- there aren't many places to stock up between Cambridge and Blackwater. Before you go, get the "Cycling Trails of Dorchester County" map (available at the visitor center in Cambridge or at www.tourdorchester.org). In addition, Blackwater has its own bike map with two suggested loops: a 20-mile loop from Cambridge's public high school into the refuge and a 5-mile loop crossing the refuge in two locations and winding through beautiful country roads. Ask about it at the visitor center.
A Bike Ride through Historic Landscapes -- The bike ride along Blackwater Wildlife Refuge's 7-mile Wildlife Drive offers effortless pedaling along wooded paths and breathtaking water vistas. It only gets better if you start at the Bucktown Store, 4.5 miles away at 4303 Bucktown Rd. It was here, many say, that Harriet Tubman got her start assisting slaves when she defied an overseer chasing a slave. At this store he struck her and fractured her skull. The store now houses Blackwater Paddle and Pedal (tel. 410/901-9255) and you can take a look around while you wait for your bike. Then on the way to Blackwater -- through landscapes that were once part of the Underground Railroad -- stop at the site where Tubman was born and at the Native American longhouse once used as a freed slaves' church in the 1800s. Two hours of pedaling, hundreds of years of history.
Refuge volunteers offer bird walks on various weekend mornings in spring and fall. These meet at the visitor center and last about 2 hours. Call tel. 410/228-2677 for a schedule. The visitor center also has a bird list.
Boating & Fishing
Launching ramps for canoes and kayaks are available year-round. Caution: Before you start paddling in fall and winter, check the waterfowl-hunting schedule. Refuge staff advises against getting between a hunter and a goose.
To rent a kayak, motorboat, or bike, try Blackwater Paddle and Pedal Adventures (tel. 410/901-9255; www.blackwaterpaddleandpedal.com), on the road to Blackwater. They also give kayak tours. Contact 'Peake Paddle Tours (tel. 410/829-7342; www.paddletours.com) for information on kayaking tours with knowledgeable guides.
Fishing and crabbing are permitted from April 1 to September 30 from small boats and bridges, but note that state laws apply here. A state sportfishing license is required for fishing in the Blackwater and Little Blackwater rivers. No fishing is allowed from the shores. A Water Trails Guide with maps is available at the visitor center.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.