For eons, forces of nature have shaped the shorelines of the Chesapeake, creating a remarkable range of natural environments. Calvert County peninsula in Southern Maryland is one microcosm of the bay’s bounty and beauty.
I am particularly fond of the county’s excellent parks, with their scores of serene river, wetland, and meadow views and short, accessible walks. Located under one hour from the Capitol Beltway, they’re an ideal day trip for all ages.
In the springtime, the parks are adorned with splashes of wildflowers! Here’s a list of my favorite Calvert County parks to take a seasonal stroll in.
King’s Landing Park
In addition to a wetland boardwalk, King’s Landing boasts a 200-foot pier for fishing and crabbing, equestrian ring and trails, and environmental education programming. The river, creeks, and marshes are a paddlers paradise and a chance to catch free entertainment from the park’s active birdlife.
Come back in the summer months to enjoy the beloved King’s Landing Pool.
Calvert Cliffs State Park
Fossil hunters, this is your park! The exposed cliffs at Calvert Cliffs State Park, once submerged under a prehistoric sea, are a renowned treasure box of Miocene fossil deposits. Many visitors scour the quarter-mile-long sandy swimming beach for shark teeth to take home—and you can, too!
Beyond primordial discoveries, the park supplies 13 miles of hiking trails through tidal marshland, an accessible recycled tire playground, and prime fishing opportunities.
Pro tip: the meandering 1.8 mile trail leads you from the parking lot to the beach—plan ahead if you have little ones.
Battle Creek Cypress Swamp
Want to take a very Instagrammable boardwalk hike among one of the northernmost stands of bald cypress trees in North America? Head to Battle Creek Cypress Swamp. The 100-acre sanctuary of distinctively knobby-kneed trees is a National Natural Landmark.
Flag Ponds Nature Park
Forming part of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline, Flag Ponds Nature Park is a miniaturized version of the Calvert peninsula: unspoiled stretch of sandy beach, freshwater ponds, and tree-topped cliffs.
In terms of walking opportunities, a short, half-mile hike brings you to a sandy, shallow beach, which is great for little kids. If you want to experience more of the park, you may take longer trail routes.
I love Flag Ponds for its gorgeous cliff views and lovely beach with lots of shark teeth for the collecting!
Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
The last park on my list is quite unique among the others. Part state park, part museum, part archaeological site, Jefferson Patterson’s 560 acres along the Patuxent River splendidly preserve some of Maryland’s cultural and natural resources.
With its system of walking trails (with an audio tour option!) and displays about 9,000 years of documented human occupation, the park does a great job of connecting the natural environment to human history.
In addition, visitors to Jefferson Patterson can kayak and canoe, tour a replica American Indian village, and participate in public projects through the Maryland Archeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC) Lab.
While you plan your memorable springtime visit to Calvert County’s parks, I’ll leave you with a line from Captain John Smith, the first Western man to lay eyes on Calvert County during his exploration of the Chesapeake:
“Here are mountains, hills, plaines, valleyes, rivers, and brookes, all running into a faire Bay, compassed but for the mouth, with fruitful and delightsome land.”
Lead Photo: Shutterstock.com
About the Author
A native of Las Vegas, NV, Chelsea Milko McAllister resides in the historic Baltimore neighborhood of Charles Village with her new husband and stepson. Her foreign policy career and travel obsession have taken her to over 50 countries, including Uganda, where she served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. Chelsea loves documenting her Maryland adventures through writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram @themilkoway.