Hart-Miller on the Run: New 5-Mile Footrace Showcases Manmade Island

Hart-Miller Island, located at the mouths of Back River and Middle River, was built from years of dredged harbor muck. It has grown into a beautiful natural habitat and little-known boating destination. Now, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to get the word out about Hart-Miller’s recreational opportunities. 

On Saturday, June 16, DNR and other agencies will host the first-ever Hart-Miller Island 5 Miler. It’s a rare chance for runners to enjoy the island, which is currently only accessible by personal boat. Participants will park at Rocky Point State Park in Essex, catch a ten-minute boat ride to Hart-Miller Island, and once on the island, take a short bus ride to the race start.

The roughly five-mile loop course will take runners around the island, at one point climbing to 40 feet above sea level. That’s an unremarkable climb for racers, but the elevation will afford them stunning views of the Eastern and Western shores of the Bay. From that spot, you can see five counties, the Key Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and lighthouses, says Ranger Dean Hughes, who is DNR’s assistant manager of Hart-Miller Island.

The goal of the race is to promote a theme of healthy lifestyles and showcase Hart-Miller.

“We just want people to come enjoy the island in a new way,” Hughes explains.

Construction of Hart-Miller Island began in 1981, when the Army Corps of Engineers used dredged materials to fill in the gap between Hart and Miller Islands. The result is an 1,100-acre expanse, with 3,000 feet of sandy beach. In 2016, the island’s south cell opened to the public. It’s staffed Thursdays through Mondays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with over eight miles of trails, a pond, and bicycles for rent. The state park also lends out binoculars and bird-watching guides.

Charm City Run is putting on the Hart-Miller Island 5 Miler, and it’s a joint project between DNR, the Maryland Environmental Service, the Port of Baltimore, and the Friends of Maryland State Parks.

This year’s race is limited to 50 runners, and as of Monday there were nine spots left. Organizers are approaching the first race as a pilot event, and hope to expand significantly for the second race in fall 2019. The race is at 9 a..m. on Saturday June 16. Shuttle boats will leave Rocky Point between 7 and 8 a.m., returning between 10:30 a.m. and noon.

The race fee is $75, which includes all transportation, a race shirt, and finish-line refreshments. Any proceeds will be invested back into recreational opportunities on the island, like paddle boats and kayaks, for the public to use.

For more information and to sign up for the race, click here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano