Beach Backpacking on Assateague Island

Late summer at the beach is seriously just the best. This year, for Labor Day Weekend (Eric’s birthday) we decided to take a trip to Assateague Island and stay at the State Line backpacking site for two nights with Chris and Jess.

Assateague Island has backcountry camping sites on both the ocean side of the island and the bay side. Make sure you stop by the ranger station before you head out and get your $10 per person backcountry permits. There are two ocean side sites and four bay sites. The first ocean side site, Little Levels, is about 4 miles from the ranger station and the State Line site is 12.5 miles. I recommend staying at the ocean side sites. Although relentless sun can be a bit exhausting at the ocean side sites, the bugs are absolutely killer at the bay side sites. I’ll take sun over blood thirsty bugs.

You can also get to the State Line backcountry site by hiking north along the beach from Virginia. It is supposedly a little bit shorter of a hike (~11 miles) and you won’t have to deal with over-sand vehicles driving next to you the whole time.

Trekking south along the coast

Trekking south along the coast

There is no water available at the backcountry sites on Assateague. We thought we would be smart and pull a wagon with all of our water and firewood. It would have been smart, except we got there at high tide and had to pull the wagon 12.5 miles through soft sand (thanks Chris and Eric). You can see the over-sand vehicle tracks on the right. We had cars driving past us all day. Kind of ruined the whole “backcountry” feel of it.

Sunsets make us leap for joy

Sunsets make us leap for joy

Happy to have made it to the State Line campsite. Hiking 12.5 miles in the sand barefoot is no joke. We all started out with shoes, but after they became water-logged and heavy, we all opted to go sans shoes for the rest of the hike.

Beach fires, need I say more?

Beach fires, need I say more?

One of the best stargazing locations I've ever been to

One of the best stargazing locations I’ve ever been to

Pancakes for breakfast

Pancakes for breakfast

The campsites that we chose were at the edge of the dunes. We could have set up further in the dunes, but the ticks got worse the further in you got. It was a bit windy for cooking, but we made a nice wind screen with our water jugs and a shirt.

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Once you crossed the line into Virginia, the beach seemed almost untouched.

Assateague is known for its wild horse population

Assateague is known for its wild horse population

No shade in sight

No shade in sight

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Playing in the sunrise

We only encountered one other couple during our two night stay at the State Line campsite. The cars weren’t driving around at sunrise, so we had the whole beach to ourselves. Not a bad way to spend a birthday weekend.

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