Compiled by Caley Breese
Maryland seems to have it all—ocean, mountains, city, you name it! And we’re so lucky to be in the heart of it all, living in the Annapolis area. Here are some popular trails and state parks on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay.
Anne Arundel County & Beyond
The Baltimore and Annapolis Trail, known as the B&A Trail, is a paved 13.3-mile trail that stretches from Boutlers Way in Annapolis to Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie. With several connecting trails, such as the BWI Trail and the East-West Boulevard Bike Path, the B&A Trail is ideal for all sorts of activities, wheels or not. This scenic trail is not only great for outdoor activities, but it’s also educational. Along the trail are alphabet markers that give a brief history of the area you’re passing. Additionally, near Harundale Plaza, a Planet Walk begins that is sponsored by NASA. Showcasing the sun and each planet, these displays educate trail-goers about our solar system. This community-friendly trail is fun for everyone! 51 West Earleigh Heights Road, Severna Park; 410-222-6244; Aacounty.org and search “BA Trail”
Home to diverse types of wildlife, such as Great Blue Herons, red foxes, and mallards, the Severn Run Natural Environmental Area is a great spot for seasonal fishing and year-round hiking. Protecting the water quality and scenery of the Severn River, this 1,600-acre environmental area is owned by Maryland, and is located off of I-97. Though often overlooked as a hiking destination, the Severn Run Natural Environment Area has several different unmarked paths visitors can enjoy. If you’re looking for some much-needed peace and quiet, this is the place for you. Public access available off of Dicus Mill Road, Millersville; 877-620-8367; Aacounty.org and search “Severn Run”
Located at the mouth of the Severn River, Greenbury Point offers beautiful views of the water and different types of wildlife on the trails of their 231-acre peninsula. The Navy-owned property, which is managed by Naval Support Activity Annapolis, allows visitors to travel the trails, whether it is for a nice jog or a lovely nature walk. However, these trails at Greenbury Point are not open every day because the area is also used as a rifle range for NSA Annapolis. To see if the area is open that day, be sure to check their Twitter for updates (@NSAAnnapolis). Public access available off of Bullard Boulevard, Annapolis; 410-293-1000
Featuring lush forests, wetlands, history, and more, the 630-acre Bacon Ridge Natural Area is owned by Anne Arundel County, and is protected by a conservation easement with Scenic River Land Trust and the Maryland Environmental Trust. Although this land is open sparingly, folks can visit for hiking and studying nature. However, on April 22nd, the Scenic River Land Trust is hosting “Walk for the Woods,” which allows public access to the Bacon Ridge Natural Area for various activities, such as guided hikes and bird watching. 1801 Hawkins Road, Crownsville; 410-222-7317; Aacounty.org and search “Bacon Ridge”
Totaling around five miles of walking and biking trails, accompanied by wetlands, woodlands, and spacious grassy areas, the Piney Orchard Nature Preserve is home to many different species of animals and plants. Connecting with several different neighborhoods of Piney Orchard, this area is easily-accessible and convenient for families and individuals alike! Escape to the Piney Orchard Nature Preserve for some peace and quiet, and enjoy anything from a lovely nature hike to just relaxing on a park bench.
Trailhead off of Sandy Walk Way, Odenton (Lone Wolf Trail); 410-672-4273; Pineyorchard.com
Featuring a 3.25-mile walking trail that allows you to see everything from beautiful meadows to the sandy beach, Terrapin Nature Park is a wonderful location for families and individuals looking for all sorts of outdoor activities. A popular activity amongst visitors is viewing the Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge via a gazebo and wheelchair-accessible boardwalk. With fishing and crabbing to biking and hiking, the 276-acre park is ideal for nature buffs of all sorts. 191 Log Canoe Circle, Stevensville; 410-758-0835; Findyourchesapeake.com
Preserving over 26,000 acres of woodlands, marshes, and waters, the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is home to a vast majority of wildlife, including being the largest breeding ground on the East Coast, north of Florida, for American bald eagles, as well as protecting the endangered Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel. The Blackwater NWR, located in Dorchester County, also serves as a sanctuary to migrating and wintering birds and waterfowl. With tons of history and activities, visitors can do everything from attending an educational program to hunting to a scenic nature walk. 2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge; 410-228-2677; Findyourchesapeake.com
With plenty of activities and opportunities to learn more about the Eastern Shore, Tuckahoe State Park is a lovely area for families, groups, and individuals interested in exploring and learning more about the area they live in. Twenty miles of multi-use trails allows visitors to hike, bike, and even horseback ride! The park also offers 20 acres of boating and fishing opportunities on its 60-acre lake; however, be aware that the use of a gasoline motor is prohibited. Additionally, canoeing is a very popular activity at Tuckahoe State Park, along with camping. Guests can also visit the Adkins Arboretum, located on Tuckahoe Creek. 13070 Crouse Mill Road, Queen Anne; 410-820-1668; Dnr2.maryland.gov
If you’re a dedicated nature lover, interested in horticulture, and enjoy the great outdoors, then this is the place for you! With lush greenery, wetlands, beautiful meadows, and more, the 400-acre Adkins Arboretum is home to more than 600 species of plants and flowers that primarily focuses on what is native to the Mid-Atlantic coastal plain. There is over five miles of paths throughout the area, with one trail—Tuckahoe Valley trail—connecting to Tuckahoe State Park. The Adkins Arboretum offers a vast majority of activities, like guided tours, lectures, programs for adults and youths, and, of course, hiking and biking. 12610 Eveland Road, Ridgely; 410-634-2847; Adkinsarboretum.org
For those especially interested in archaeology and fossils or have children who love dinosaurs; Calvert Cliffs is the park for you. The Calvert Cliffs were formed 20 to 30 million years ago when all of southern Maryland was covered in a warm, shallow sea. As a result, the fossils of the marine life that lived there, prehistoric sharks, whales, rays, and large seabirds, can be found in the cliffs today. The best fossil hunting is done at the open beach area at the end of the red trail where adults and children alike can sift for sharks teeth and fossils right in the sand.
10540 H. G. Trueman Road, Lusby; 301-743-7613; Dnr.maryland.gov
Spanning over 18,000 acres across Harford and Baltimore counties, Gunpowder Falls State Park has more than 120 different hiking trails. The park features fishing and kayaking/canoeing streams, a swimming beach, and a marina. One featured trail of the park is called Jerusalem Village trail, a 4.8 mile hike that features the Jericho Covered Bridge and a variety of wildlife. Families and backpackers alike can fuel up pre-hike with some lunch in the village picnic area where they can admire the antique buildings. 2813 Jerusalem Road, Kingsville; 410-592-2897; Dnr.maryland.gov
Featuring rocky waterfalls, a suspension bridge, and accessible trails, Patapsco Valley is an ideal hiking location for families seeking adventure and a top destination for mountain biking. A popular path at the Avalon area of Patapsco Valley, Cascade Falls Trail is a beautiful, novice trail that takes one through the altering foliage up to a collection of small waterfalls that serve as precursors to the subtle yet alluring Cascade Falls. Another extremely favored spot for families and hikers alike is Daniels Dam, where fisherman can cast for rainbow and brown trout and families can marvel at the power and beauty of the rushing water.
To Daniels Dam: 2090 Daniels Road, Ellicott City; To Avalon Area (Suspension Bridge & Cascade Falls): 5120 South Street, Halethorpe; To Patapsco Valley State Park: 8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City; 410-461-5005; Dnr.maryland.gov
Featuring excellent trout fishing, mountain forests, streams and valleys and the highest point in any Maryland state forest, Backbone Mountain, Potomac State Forest is truly a perplexing collection of nature. Families and hikers alike can camp at designated sites or backpack through the forest by day and camp in the forest at night if they so desire. For the more adventurous, horseback riding is also available on the trails throughout the state park. From families to fisherman to hikers, Potomac State forest has it all.
1431 Potomac Camp Road, Oakland; 301-334-2038; Dnr.maryland.gov
Photo by Ser Amantio di Nicolao
Tranquility is a single word to describe Cunningham Falls. Following a picturesque drive through rural Maryland and the quaint town of Thurmont, one arrives in Cunningham Falls State Park with one path toward the waterfall and another towards a lakefront beach. A short half-mile to three-quarter mile hike will land one at the waterfall, an absolutely breathtaking flood of water over easy-to-climb rocks. For the more adventurous, there are also 1.5 to 7.5 mile trails that lead to scenic outcroppings and other parts of the park such as the Catoctin furnace. 14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont; 301-271-7574; Dnr.maryland.gov
At 365 acres, Herrington Manor State Park is miniscule in comparison to the other, larger state parks aforementioned. However, what this park lacks in size, it makes up for in amenities. Herrington Manor offers picnic sites, kayaking and canoeing, swimming, tennis, and hiking just to name a few activities. In addition, Herrington Manor also has 20 fully furnished log cabins on site for rent year round. During the fall, the state park features maple syrup demonstrations and apple butter making, sure to appease the family. 222 Herrington Lane, Oakland; 301-334-9180; Dnr.maryland.gov
This Park consists of cascading rapids and several 20-foot waterfalls that are absolutely breathtaking to view in-person. The Potomac River narrows from 1,000 feet wide to a mere 100 feet, causing the river to move very rapidly over jutting rocks, creating a spectacular scene of rushing water. This park is only a short 15-minute drive from Washington D.C. making it about an hour to an hour and a half from the Annapolis/Eastern Shore Area. Great Falls Park is also split in the middle with Maryland on one side and Virginia on the other, creating a beautiful bilateral view of the two states. 11710 MacArthur Blvd, Potomac; 703-285-2965; Nps.gov
With more than 16 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, Gambrill State Park is renowned hiking destination. The park is split into two parts, the Rock Run area half of the park and the High Knob area. Both areas feature cozy, family-style campgrounds for campers with picnic areas and picnic shelters and even a small fishing pond at the Rock Run location. Located in Middletown, Maryland, this park is only a short 30-minute drive from historic Frederick, Maryland where visitors can venture to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine or to Scheifferstadt, the oldest house in Frederick Maryland, built in 1750. 8602 Gambrill Park Road, Frederick; 301-271-7574; Dnr.maryland.gov