Just because you’ve missed the pony roundup for 2012, doesn’t mean you’ve lost your chance to see the infamous Chincoteague ponies during the off season! In fact, many of us locals find that the herds are easier to observe during once the crowds thin down.
There are two herds that graze in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (located on the island just next to ours, Assateague Island). The easiest and most reliable spot to view the southern herd is the pull off on Beach Road (the main road on Assateague Island) across from Black Duck Marsh Pool, which is also a great photo spot. This is the first pull-off after emerging from the 25 mph area on the right. The ponies are in a large area and can often been seen in the marshes and among the pine trees. There is also a pony lookout along the woodland trail — it is a nice hike around to the spot where you can observe the ponies.
The northern herd grazes in an area that can be accessed from the service road that runs north from the end of the wildlife loop. It is a longer hike – about 3-4 miles. You will pass a small corral and cross a cattle gate and after the cattle gate, you enter the Chincoteague horse’s area. The ponies can be anywhere north of the cattle gate – - some see them on the road and in the marshes and flats. If you come across them on the road, give them a wide berth and time to adjust to your presence. The ponies graze in a large area so it is possible that you will not see them.
Remember, the ponies are WILD ANIMALS — keep a safe distance do not attempt to pet or feed them. The males in particular can be intimidating and unpredictable. This is especially true with the northern herd since the service road runs through their area, but there are times when the ponies get out of the southern corral and can be on beach road or the wildlife loop.
We hope to see you on the island soon!