Maryland Crab & Oyster Trail: Middle Eastern Shore
The Heart of the Bay
With nearly 50 square miles of forests, fields, marshes and open water, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, “The Everglades of the North,” offers breathtaking vistas and a rare glimpse of untouched America.
On “the shore” you’ll find casual traditional crab houses, like The Crab Claw in St. Michael’s, Wylder Hotel’s Tickler’s Crab Shack in Tilghman Island and Soft and Salty Seafood in Cambridge. You’ll also find upscale dining at well-known restaurants like Oxford’s Robert Morris Inn, Suicide Bridge Restaurant in Hurlock or Harry’s on the Green in Denton.
Get out on the water and take a skipjack tour from Tilghman Island or Cambridge to see oyster dredging first-hand. A variety of Watermen’s Heritage Tours provide an unsurpassed, up close experience where you can catch your own dinner - or at least see how it’s done.
Museums, Festivals, and Events
Maryland serves up a diverse menu of seafood festivals, crab derbies and waterfront attractions. Explore maritime museums to discover what it was like to be a waterman in decades past. Try your hand at tonging or running a trotline, when you spend the day on a watermen’s heritage tour. See the unparalleled majestic beauty of a skipjack or log canoe race, both traditional watermen’s boats. Catch all the Chesapeake has to offer!
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To tantalize your taste-buds, catch a seafood festival, like Cambridge’s Seafood Feast-i-Val in mid-August, the Oyster Fest at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels in late October, the Oyster Jam and Brew Festival in Tilghman’s Island in November, or a local Bull and Oyster Roast.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center near Cambridge celebrates the famed Underground Railroad conductor. Learn about this American hero through exhibits and an audio tour of the landscape.
Discover what it was like to be a traditional waterman through hands-on exhibits at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. Don't miss the annual OysterFest in October.
Several hotels and campsites are found along this byway, with the greatest concentration in Cambridge and Denton. Both towns also provide opportunities to enjoy arts, culture, shopping and fine dining. Here, Turnbridge Point Bed & Breakfast is featured, where guests can sample culinary delights or participate in cooking classes.
Take the scenic drive down MD 335 to Hoopers Island, which is really three islands with their authentic working watermen villages. The trip will feel a bit like going to another world. Travel through Fishing Creek and Hoopersville with the Chesapeake Bay on your right and the Honga River on your left. The nearly two-mile causeway provides dramatic views of those waterways. In the villages, you’ll find charter boats for fishing or sightseeing and an oyster farm. Don’t miss Old Salty’s, the community’s only restaurant, which is known far and wide for their delectable crab cakes, soft shell crabs and other seafood dishes.
Recreational crabbers catch crabs using a Bait, Pull and Net method - what locals call "chicken necking." The bait, often chicken necks, is tied to the end of a string and dropped into the water, typically less than 5 feet deep. When the line starts "walking away," the crabber slowly pulls it up. Once in sight, the crabber scoops up the crab with a rigid net on a pole.