These 'Flops were Made for Walkin'- Trails to the Sassafras River - Sassafras NRMA
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
If there's one thread that's woven it's way through every part of the One Hundred Shores journey, that thread is about access. Behind the scenes for me, there always is a story of how to get to these shorelines even if the story I write doesn't directly tie to that theme. Oh, how much simpler things would be to power up and down the open waters from river to river in a 28' cabin cruiser. But then again, One Hundred Shores is a story of our interconnectedness to the watershed, and for the majority of us, that connection isn't going to come on board a Grady White. So I stick to the shore, searching for the gems that I would otherwise drive by.
There's been plenty of said gems, and many more out there. The gray area comes though when weighing just how "accessible" an access point is. A beach with a picnic area has access, of course. In fact, there's likely a parking lot which takes up more acreage than the beach. But those popular destinations provide scant water access for the majority of us living in the watershed, so the parking lots are part and parcel of the shore itself in some ways.
But then you have the shorelines which are technically public, it just takes a little bit of work. Is a 2 mile walk to an open shoreline considered a public access? Sassafras NRMA falls into that category.
As a NRMA, the area is intentionally undeveloped. There's plenty of leased fields and managed hunting grounds to walk through before you get into the coastal wooded areas. The area seems to be doing a great job of providing forest buffers for agricultural runoff as well. Water Quality data from Shorerivers shows that the Sassafras as a whole is a pretty swimmable river.
Truth be told, with only a few limited access points up the river from here and only the Betterton Beach a little ways down river, The NRMA is probably one of the few places you could swim in the Sassafras if you wanted to. So bring hiking shoes and water shoes if you're planning a trip (or just a raggedy pair of flip flops).
I appreciate opportunities to get a variety of flavors in my hikes, and Sassafras achieves that in what it offers. It's not Yosemite Valley of course, but there's a number of different coastal systems at work here which really illustrate the kind of variety the Chesapeake offers so close to home. The tidal pond on the point is definitely one of those unique Chesapeake ecosystems where you can see just how much is going on in the interplay between the land, the plant cover and the tides.
It's worth a visit if you're in the area, but know that there's not much around, including facilities. The same holds true for the bay water though. There's not nearly as much development on the Sassafras shore as you find on most of the western rivers and creeks. So you can appreciate a more pastoral view of the upper Chesapeake and what a resilient landscape might look like when the forests and the streams flow and grow as intended.