Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (formerly Horsehead Wetland Center) is a preserve located 15 minutes from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Maryland's Eastern Shore. With a variety of habitats, the Center is an excellent place to see the Chesapeake's wintering assortment of waterfowl including: Canvasbacks, American Black Ducks, Shovelers, Ruddy Ducks, Redheads, Canada Geese, and Tundra Swans. Shorebirds make a strong showing in May and late summer, when hundreds can be seen on Lake Knapp. In all, over 200 species of birds have been recorded, and a documented list is available in our visitor center.

CBEC will open your eyes, ears, mind, and heart to the wildlife and historic landscapes that characterize Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Enter Your Location


9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


$5 for adults, $4 for seniors (55+), and $2 for youth ages 5 to 18 (4 and under free); Free for members


The Wildfowl Trust of North America Inc. was founded in 1979 with the intent to protect wetlands for waterfowl while maintaining captive waterfowl collections for educational purposes. In 1981 the Trust purchased a 315-acre farm tract in Grasonville, Maryland on which it initially established Horsehead Wetlands Center and opened to the public in 1985. In 1998 the trust purchased an additional 195 acres and placed the now 510-acre preserve under conservation easement.

In 2002 the Trust revamped its mission to address the issues of declining water quality, urban sprawl and habitat loss and set a goal to be recognized as a leader in environmental education and bay restoration. The site was renamed the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center to reflect the new focus of the mission.

In 2004 the State of Maryland recognized there was a need to find more effective and efficient restoration methods in order to meet the 2010 Chesapeake Bay Agreement and beyond. CBEC was designated as “the”site for testing and developing comprehensive restoration techniques resulting in bay-wide implications. As a result, partnerships with private businesses, universities, state and federal governmental agencies have afforded CBEC the opportunity to expand research and restoration capabilities while encouraging stewardship through volunteerism.

In 2008 CBEC opened a new LEED certified arts and education facility to the meet the growing needs of its educational programs. The new facility itself is a teaching tool on sustainable building practices, serves as a model for green living on Eastern Shore, is a resource center for developers engaging in smart growth and a portal for visitors to admire the local culture through rotating art exhibits.


Bird-watching; hiking; educational programs; volunteer work with wildlife; guided canoeing; special events.

Water Trail Map & Guide

The waterproof / tear-proof guide highlights three separate water trails which range from 1 mile to 2.8 miles along Marshy Creek, Prospect Bay, and Cabin Creek. CBEC features extensive marsh and woodland habitat and is a great place for wildlife enthusiasts to view a variety of wildlife. Copies of the water trail map are available at the CBEC visitor center and the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitor Center.


Visitor center; gift shop; water fowl ponds; education building; raptor mews; waterfowl aviary; boardwalk; trail system


Trails and visitor center are handicapped accessible.

Main image: Michael Land / National Park Service
Captain John Smith Trail