Exploring Assateague Island on our Bikes

 

John and I decided we needed one more get-away before the kids come home for the summer and the nest refills. The countdown was on and this was the last Empty Nest weekend. So, we planned to take advantage of it and of the beautiful Spring weather. We packed up our bikes, a suitcase and headed to the Maryland Eastern Shore. Our destination: Assateague Island. The weather was sunny and about 65 degrees. We set out about 10:00 am for the Visitor Center parking lot. We were on our bikes by about 10:30 am. The bike path was great and the island was beautiful and quiet. We could hear the birds and frogs and other sounds of nature. The island has both the Assateague Island National Seashore and a state park. We travelled down the paved path of the National Seashore first. It was serene and scenic. Assateague is known for the wild ponies that roam on the island. We were on the look out for the famous ponies, but were not finding them. We saw a few from the big bridge (the Verrazano Bridge) we crossed to get onto the island, but only saw piles of pony evidence on the ground once we were on the actual island. And judging by the size of some of the piles (huge!), we didn't want to meet any of those ponies face to face anyway.

View from Verrazano Bridge Looking Back Toward Visitor Center

 

We followed the bike trail until it ended. We checked out the ocean over the dune ridge. On our way back to the Park entrance, we followed the two trails to the bay side of the island. It was so pretty and so quiet. After exploring the National Park part of the island for about two hours, we were ready to make our way into the state park side to see what it was like. It was not as scenic as the National Park. The bike path ran parallel to the one we'd just been on and was separated by trees and shrubs to our right. The other side, to our left, had the dunes leading to the ocean and all the buildings and park structures for the campers and day visitors to the state park. We rode along and were two or three times tempted to just turn around, since there wasn't much to see. But, I kept saying, “Let's turn around at the next building.” I thought we were getting close to the end of the trail and didn't want to turn around before it.

A Beautiful View from the National Park Side of Assateague

 

Luckily we kept going because we finally found some ponies. We stopped, as did a couple of other cyclists and pedestrians, to take some photos and watch them eating grass around a people picnic area (yes, that image made me chuckle). There were no picnickers there, and both the ponies and the people were on their best behavior. Thankfully there were no incidents. We had seen a couple signs warning that the horses kick, bite, and can charge at people, which for a non-horse person like myself made the thought of seeing one up close a little less desirable. But, I was glad we did see them and that they were a lot smaller than I expected them to be. It made our trip to Assateague complete.

The Ponies of Assateague

We ended our visit with a last look at the ocean and the ponies and off we rode. Back over the bridge and to the car. It was another great day and another great bike ride.

Ocean View from Assateague

 

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