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Annual Horseshoe Crab Spawn at Slaughter Beach Delaware Plus Hike!

  • May 25, 2013 · 6:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

Let's Check Out the Annual Horseshoe Crab Spawn and Take a Hike!

"All is calm on the shores of a great bay. The sun hangs over the horizon, ablaze in red as it awaits its final plunge into darkness. Nothing stirs save for the wind, waves, and tide.  Suddenly, armored shapes appear in the rolling surf, moving slowly, inexorably, toward shore.  By the thousands they come, grotesque and hideous soldiers at the van of a great invasions!  They swarm the idyllic beach, overcoming everything in their path, their steely will focused on one single task.

An alien invasion? A Scene from some prehistoric feeding frenzy? No, it is the annual Atlantic horseshoe crab span, one of the most amazing wildlife events on the planet.  Every year, tens of thousands of horseshoe crabs come ashore on the beaches of Delaware Bay to spawn, and if you are fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time, you will witness crabs literally covering the entire shore for miles in all directions. This certainly is on of the most unique, and creepy, wildlife experiences in our region.

Timing is critical if you wish to see a peak spawning event. Crab numbers peak during full and new moons between May and late June. Two days prior through two days after each moon event offers the best changes of seeing peak crab activities at sunset which is also best if it is high tide.

So, we will head out a little earlier in the day in the very nearby Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (Slaughter Beach is at the northern end of this area) and take in some hiking between 5-7 total very easy miles, and then, if you dare, head on over with us to slaughter beach for the high tide nearest the full moon. The full moon is at 8:59 p.m. with sunset being at 8:12 p.m. and the evening high tide (they prefer high tide) is conveniently at 9:37 p.m. and is predicted to be 5.55 feet which is fantastic timing which truly could not be better. This is the day of the full moon and the only date during both May and June where a weekend day falls within two days of an appropriate moon event required for the spawn to be at peak level so this is it folks."

The Hike Portion of This Adventure

A trek through coastal forest and wetlands on the western shore of Delaware Bay. A great hike for birders. Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge — 8,817 acres of fresh and tidal marsh, upland forest, and croplands on the shores of the Delaware Bay — is home to a wonderful array of birds, mammals, and reptiles and is an important stopover for migrating waterfowl.

Trail Information
Nearby City: Rehoboth Beach 
Length: About 7 Total Miles if you combine hiking at both of the locations within Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. So, there are shorter options, and if time is on our side, longer hikes as well. 
Trail Type: Modified Loop
Difficulty: Very Easy and Newbie Friendly 
Activities: Birding, Wildlife Viewing and Photography, and Hiking 
Elevation: None 
Facilities: Visitor center and restrooms

Sunset Information
Click here for an explanation of the three different twilights if you are interested. Most people need a headlamp sometime between Civil and Nautical Twilight. Most people can still see very well up until a little after Civil Twilight before turning on their headlamp!
Sunset: 8:12 p.m.
Civil Twilight: 8:43 p.m.
Nautical Twilight: 9:21 p.m.

Full Moonrise is at 8:59 p.m. The crabs peak at the evening high tide which is at 9:37 p.m. so we will have the moon up when the crabs come out which is rare!

Carpool Information

Baltimore Area Carpool
To carpool or caravan from the Baltimore metro area, meet at Savage Station. Click here for directions to Savage Station.

If you can drive or want to carpool from additional locations, please post your location in the comment section below. Click here for suggested carpool locations complete with directions. For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment - by just offering a ride!

Directions to the Trailhead
Click here for directions to the where we meet near trailhead.

Hike is at 6:00 p.m

Carpool meetup time is 3:30 p.m.

Park Fee: None

Fido is Welcome on this Hike!

Note Regarding Refunds:
There are no refunds, exchanges, reselling, or applying the money toward a future event for this special event. Before you commit, I just want it to be clear so there would not be any possible confusion or misunderstandings. Please keep that in mind before signing up and have a great time.

Please take my number with you just and case!

Kellie:[masked]

Mike H:[masked]

Barb:[masked]

Additional MAHG Leadership Team Members

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  • Michael H.

    Thanks for joining us for this annual event. The hike and spawning were great. See you next hike.

    May 30, 2013

  • Robin T.

    Great time. Thanks again to Wayne for sharing his campsite.

    1 · May 29, 2013

  • Joni P.

    Awesome adventure. Thank you Kellie, Mike and Barb.

    2 · May 28, 2013

  • Henry

    It was awesome to see this natural phenomenon--just think, these creatures were doing this long before humans walked the earth. Thanks for organizing, Mike!

    2 · May 28, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Watch Earth's oldest living species continue their lineage - CHECK! My most inspirational memory from this event was watching my campmates - Robin T., Amberlee and Bill - who seemed to spend their entire evening rescuing Horseshoe Crabs and returning them safely to the ocean.

    3 · May 27, 2013

  • Michael S.

    I might drive my motorhome and make it a hiking/camping weekend! (if anyone else is interested let me know!)

    1 · March 28, 2013

    • Michael S.

      Yes we are going to have great weather! Hopefully my camp site will have a tree or 2 for my hammack! Gonna buy some food and make some jello shots tonight, got the beer and wine in the fridge chillin, I'm so ready to go!!!! Hope to see you at the hike Wayne!

      May 22, 2013

    • Michael S.

      GREAT weekend! :)

      May 27, 2013

  • Michael S.

    The HS crabs were cool-and the full moon was pretty awesome! Too bad we couldn't capture the moons beauty with a camera (not mine anyway)....Made some great new friends-Glad I went!

    1 · May 27, 2013

  • Debby

    An amazing experience, I'm so glad I got to see this.

    1 · May 27, 2013

  • Bill

    Incredible sights of the horseshoe crabs!

    1 · May 27, 2013

  • Diana

    What a cool evening, watching the moon seemingly rise from the water and then seeing all those horseshoe crabs in a ritual that goes back hundreds of millions of years.

    3 · May 26, 2013

  • Gail D

    This was an incredible experience.

    3 · May 26, 2013

  • Mary M.

    Great hike and Enjoyed the horseshoe crab spawning. Mother Nature is awsome!!!!

    2 · May 26, 2013

  • Kelly

    Definitely a bucket list experience, I'm so glad I did that!

    2 · May 26, 2013

  • Veronica

    Thank you, Mike, for the wonderful trip! :)

    1 · May 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    What a phenomenon! Thanks to the leaders for planning this. Enjoyed meeting so many nice folks on my first outing with this group.

    1 · May 26, 2013

  • Kenny

    Everyone that lives in this area should go at least once, it's worth it.

    1 · May 26, 2013

  • Suzanne

    I will be driving and can pick someone up who needs a lift. I will be coming from UMD College Park area. If anyone needs a lift from Silver Spring, Takoma Park, College Park, etc. area or who is on the way otherwise, let me know. I will be not be camping or staying overnight.

    May 21, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hey do you have space for one more person? I can come to College Park and don't intend to stay overnight.

      May 22, 2013

    • Christine

      Hi do you still have a carpool spot?

      May 25, 2013

  • phillip

    I'm driving from the Chevy Chase area and willing to be the driver for 1-2 additional people (including my nova friends). I, too, am coming back -- not staying overnight.

    May 24, 2013

    • Christine

      hi Phillip, is it too late to ask, when are you leaving?

      May 25, 2013

  • Johanna L.

    I'm coming from Arlington, three spots in my car. I hope to leave around 230 if anyone is interested

    May 25, 2013

    • Johanna L.

      Got it Scott. Text/call I'm a bit

      May 25, 2013

    • Johanna L.

      Ugh ...I'll call or text in a bit. Damn phone.

      1 · May 25, 2013

  • Keri L.

    Just wanted to get an idea who I'll be meeting at the Savage Station this Saturday. I might drive my own car to the beach (or carpool w/ someone), but it would be nice to meet w/ other hikers before heading there. Thanks.

    May 23, 2013

    • Jeff (aka Soup S.

      Keri, I'm interested in carpooling from Savage Station. I can drive or ride. What do you have in mind? When do you want to leave/return?

      May 24, 2013

    • Johanna L.

      In case you didn't see my post earlier today, I'll be stopping there as well. I plan to be at the carpool at 330

      May 25, 2013

  • Kelly

    I live near the King Street Metro in Alexandria. I am driving and would be happy to take 2-3 others with me, but I am coming back, not staying overnight. If you are interested, please let me know. I'd like to leave a little early to make sure the bay bridge traffic doesn't mess with the schedule.

    May 23, 2013

    • Veronica

      Margo, would you like to join me? I plan to join Kelly P. I will leave Arlington 12:45PM.

      May 25, 2013

    • Todd C.

      Hello I'm a little late here but if anyone has room in their car, I'd love a ride

      May 25, 2013

  • Veronica

    I am leaving from Pentagon City at 12:45pm in front of Hudson Trail Outfitters (HTO) and go meet Kelly P in DC. Please feel free to join me. Address of HTO: 1101 S Joyce St B29, Arlington, VA 22202 @[masked],[masked]

    1 · May 25, 2013

    • Veronica

      OK. Looks like my carpool is full. See you guys in DE! :)

      May 25, 2013

  • Veronica

    Maybe a bit late to ask, but I will give it a shot. Looking for carpool. Anyone coming from Arlington near Pentagon City metro? Happy to share gas and driving. :)

    May 24, 2013

    • Veronica

      Thanks, Kelly. I will be coming from Arlington. Is there any chance we can meet somewhere with free parking?

      May 25, 2013

    • Veronica

      Or I can pick you up in Chinatown.

      May 25, 2013

  • Kelly

    Ok Larus, you're shotgun!

    May 24, 2013

    • Kenny

      If you're coming from DC or Baltimore, that may be a reality :P

      May 24, 2013

    • Larus G.

      Not scared yet, I would prefer using a blunderbuss because adversaries would become more curious or amused... We will have to take the roof off to look the part...

      May 25, 2013

  • Steve

    Is there a restaurant nearby for dinner or do folks bring their food?

    1 · May 24, 2013

  • Kenny

    I checked the weather for nearby Milton, DE and it's supposed to clear up by 2pm tomorrow and stay that way all night through Sunday. The temperature should be upper 60s, dipping below 60 between 8-9pm with ~15mph winds so with wind chill and humidity it could feel like 45-50F. Which means bring a jacket, but it looks like rain gear will not be necessary.

    1 · May 24, 2013

    • Kellie C.

      Thanks for the info Kenny:) So excited about this event, yay!

      May 24, 2013

    • Kenny

      Well hopefully the weatherman is right. I'm looking forward to this too. It looks like all the stars & planets lined up perfectly on this one. Maybe I should even buy a lotto ticket?

      2 · May 24, 2013

  • Kellie C.

    Are we there yet! I love this event:) See everyone tomorrow at 6pm for our sunset hike, dinner, and then the highlight of our night, creatures crawling up from the deep in magnificent numbers.....

    May 24, 2013

  • Kellie C.

    You should have just received an e--mail about us pushing this trip out by an hour for reasons beyond our control. This will have no affect on the trip as we have always had a pretty long break between the hike and when the crabs crawl up from the deep. The times have been updated above so in case you do not get Meetup e-mails or check here you will be an hour early. Again, this will not affect the time we are meeting our resident expert for the crabs or that part of the adventure. It only shortens the time between the hike and the crab viewing. Should be just right for having a meal:)

    May 24, 2013

  • Kenny

    Anyone carpooling from Baltimore area or meeting at Savage carpool location?

    May 21, 2013

    • Kenny

      I have a ride but thanks.

      May 22, 2013

    • Kenny

      Soup, you're welcome to come along with us. I sent you a personal email with details.

      May 24, 2013

  • Liz E.

    New to the group, we are excited to join this hike! Hoping for the chance to photograph crabs and any other DE wildlife!!!

    May 24, 2013

  • Cheri M.

    I hurt my foot today and have to cancel. I hope someone can use my two spots. I'm really sorry to miss this one. Have fun!

    May 24, 2013

  • margo s.

    Still looking for a ride from NOVA.. :)

    May 24, 2013

  • Melodie B.

    I signed up for this group to RSVP, but now it is closed.....

    I didn't know I was added, can I still attend?

    May 24, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Melodie, yes you can, email me if you want to go.

      May 24, 2013

  • Gail D

    I am 40 miles west of DC just off 66. If anyone would like to car pool from that direction, please let me know.

    May 20, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Gail, I live in Arlington and would be interested in riding with you.

      May 24, 2013

    • margo s.

      Hi Gail, I would be interested as well :)

      May 24, 2013

  • Dave

    Does anyone have room for another tent on their site, we'll cover the site fee.

    May 24, 2013

  • shawn m.

    I was planning on driving by myself but if you'd like to car pool that'd great

    1 · May 23, 2013

    • margo s.

      Hi Shawn where are you driving from? :) thanks.! Margo

      May 24, 2013

  • Vas

    Hello, I live in Gaithersburg and have room for one person in my car. We are two people + a small dog in the car. If interested, i can pick you up at shady grove metro station and we will ride together.
    -Vas

    May 12, 2013

    • Mariya

      Hi Vas, would it be possible to carpool with you, if you still have room? Please let me know. Thanks so much!

      May 22, 2013

  • Dave

    We have room for two. We are leaving out of Rockville at 1pm on Saturday and could meetup anywhere along the way. We are looking to camp overnight somewhere in the vincinty, haven't worked out where just yet, and plan on returning before noon on Sunday.

    May 22, 2013

  • Amberlee

    I am interested in joining this adventure and I am interested in camping Saturday evening. I have a small one person tent, does anyone have room to offer at their site? I can pitch in on the cost of the site. I also live in Alexandria and am willing to drive and offer spots or take a ride with someone.

    May 14, 2013

    • Henry

      I'm interested in camping, have a small tent, & car pooling from Alexandria area.

      May 21, 2013

    • Wayne M.

      Hi Henry, Unfortunately I no longer have anymore tent space. My campsite only allows one additional tent which Robin and Amberlee are sharing. Bill is sleeping on my RV's couch and that is the only spare adult-sized bed I have. Sorry.

      May 21, 2013

  • margo s.

    Anyone carpooling from Northern VA?

    May 21, 2013

    • Henry

      I'd like to car pool from Alexandria-Mt. Vernon area--we all go over the Wilson Bridge, right?

      May 21, 2013

  • Bob

    More spots please..

    May 20, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I see "33 spots available", but no way to accept and move off the Waitlist...

      May 20, 2013

    • Kellie C.

      How to Move from the Wait list to a “Yes” - If you are on the wait list, you will get an e-mail as slots become available. It is a “first come first serve” system for available slots. Slots are open to everyone, whether on the wait list or not. However, being on the wait list will make certain that you are notified when open slots become available as well as letting me know to look for another leader if the trails (and parking) can accommodate it and still comply with our Leave No Trace pledge. Click the following link for how to get off the wait list and RSVP “yes”, http://www.midatlanti...­ Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further assistance as that is what I am here for.

      May 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I believe I am the first one here on the wait list. So I may have a chance to be a part of this amazing hike which will also be my first hike with the Mid-Atlantic group. Hi to you all. I have no plans for the long weekend and this looks pretty good to me. If I am able to join you guys, could one of you good people offer me a ride from DC? I will pitch in for gas and will try not to bore nobody.

    I can get to any place which is metro accessible. If you have any tips for me as a newbie which you would like to share, I am all ears. Thanks in advance.

    May 19, 2013

    • Kellie C.

      @Hansa, please read my post above for how our wait list works. It is not in order of who is on it... We just got an additional leader so I was able to open up more spots so hope you get one before they fill:)

      May 20, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Did you know that a Horseshoe Crab could have saved your life? The medical profession uses an extract from the Crab’s blue, copper-based blood , called lysate, to test the purity of medicines. Pharmaceutical companies extract up to one-third of the Horseshoe Crab’s blood volume and then the Crab is returned safely to the water. Bled Crabs have a 90% survival rate.

    Additionally, certain properties of the Crab’s shell have also been used to speed blood clotting and to make absorbable sutures. Horseshoe Crabs have also been used to benefit cancer research.

    Be careful where you step on the beach, that Crab may be the one to save your life.

    4 · May 17, 2013

  • margo s.

    Hi There, I really enjoyed this event last year! Looking to carpool from Reston area. Happy to pay gas, tolls and bring snacks. :)

    1 · May 15, 2013

  • Jeanne

    I will need a headlamp, can I buy one at Eastern Mtn. Sports?

    May 13, 2013

    • Wayne M.

      Yes you can buy a headlamp there.

      1 · May 13, 2013

  • Heather P

    Awesome event! I remember doing this as a kid with my grandfather. I can't remember, are kids allowed on hikes? My boys are 6 and 7 and are good hikers.

    2 · April 30, 2013

  • Wayne M.

    Looking forward to seeing the oldest living species on Earth. Horseshoe crabs predate the earliest dinosaurs by almost 200 million years.

    2 · March 29, 2013

  • Hiromi

    I would appreciate it if someone could give me a ride. I would be happy to share the gas cost. I live in Foggy Bottom area in DC.

    March 29, 2013

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