Unsullied Landscapes: The American Chestnut Land Trust


Want to get outside and enjoy the nice weather? Looking for a cheap double date? A service project? A fun family activity?

With the crazy-beautiful winter weather this year and in anticipation of a pioneer reenactment trek this summer, put on by my church’s youth group, my family has been taking more hikes. We’ve found well-maintained trails and beautiful forests at the American Chestnut Land Trust, which is conveniently close to our home.

The American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT) was created in 1986 as part of a land conservation movement to preserve beautiful areas from pressures for development. Today, ACLT boasts 24 miles of maintained trails on a 3400-acre preserve, stretching from Dares Beach to Prince Frederick and Port Republic. Some go out to Parkers Creek and the Chesapeake Bay. It’s been described as “a wonderful place to hike, canoe, and enjoy nature (freshman Ava Blalock-Yeich).”

Huntingtown staff and students feel fond of the ACLT. “There was one time… [my family and I] went on this… trail,” said senior Kayla Moffit, “and it has this raft…where you have to pull across this… lake… That was one of the funnest things to do because it was flooded… [We] went across and then the trail ahead of it was flooded so we couldn’t go forward, but we stayed on that raft and we kinda just went back and forth and back and forth for like an hour. It was the funnest thing.”

Others responded similarly, “I go hiking down there frequently… I love it… I like the little bridge with the hand ferry… Just in general, being out in nature makes me happy (Mr. Currier).”

“I love how accessible it is… I think there are a lot of different options for beginning hikers, as well as experienced hikers. I love how there are different environments, like the creek and the woodlands (senior Laura Jones).”

ACLT also has an extensive garden that grows produce for local food pantries, including 3296 lbs. donated to the St. John Vianney Interfaith Food Pantry in 2021. My siblings and I have helped in the garden at times, and it’s been cool to see the different types of crops grown, like blueberries, radishes, tomatoes, and even peaches.

The farm’s supervisors are very willing to facilitate service projects. Our church youth group helped to plant cabbages and broccoli a few years ago, and people really enjoyed it. (For more information, visit JustServe.org and search for ACLT.) This volunteer-oriented garden is a gem.

Well-suited to a multitude of purposes, the American Chestnut Land Trust is opportune for families in Calvert County. With the weather warming up this spring, consider checking it out sometime!