Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources operates a huge state park system, managing 72 parks over some 137,700-plus acres across the state. Eleven of those parks are in Southern Maryland, and if you’re looking to get some fresh air this fall or learn some local history, you can’t do better than a day or weekend in a Maryland state park!
Calvert Cliffs State Park
Want to go fossil hunting? One of the best places to find fossils and shark teeth is Calvert Cliffs State Park. The cliffs tower over the Chesapeake Bay shoreline, providing a dramatic backdrop for your hiking and swimming. The park has 13 miles of trails, picnic areas, and a playground.
Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum
The Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum is an active archaeological site, with research currently being done there on artifacts documenting thousands of years of human inhabitation of the site. The land was donated to the state by Mary Marvin Breckinridge Patterson in 1983. Visitors can tour exhibits in the museum and barn, visit the Indian Village, hike, and launch kayaks.
Chapel Point State Park
Chapel Point State Park is an undeveloped park on the Port Tobacco River. Its waterfront offers excellent fishing, and hunting is allowed. The park’s paddle-in campsite is available by permit.
Chapman State Park
Chapman State Park is the home of Mt. Aventine, the mansion home of the Chapman family, which has close ties to George Washington and George Mason. For thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, the park’s land was home to Native Americans. The park stretches from the Potomac River to Mattawoman Creek and offers tours of the mansion, trails, birding, fishing, and hunting.
Cedarville State Forest
Cedarville State Forest sits just outside Charles County in Prince George’s County off U.S. Route 301. Used by the Piscataway Indian Tribe as winter camping grounds, the park has 19.5 miles of marked trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian. You can also camp, picnic, fish, and hunt here.
Smallwood State Park
Smallwood State Park is named for Gen. William Smallwood, a Charles County native and the highest-ranking Marylander to serve in the Revolutionary War. The park is home to Smallwood’s Retreat, which is open to visitors seasonally. You can also camp, explore nature trails, play on the playground, or launch boats here.
St. Mary’s County
Greenwell State Park
Located on the Patuxent River, Greenwell State Park offers hiking, equestrian, and cycling trails, picnicking, hunting, fishing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking. Rosedale Manor House sits on the shore of the river, offering a focal point for the park. The nonprofit Greenwell Foundation partners with the state to provide services and activities for community members of all abilities.
Newtowne Neck State Park
Newtowne Neck State Park is a new park; the state purchased the land in 2009. The park is a peninsula surrounded by Breton Bay, St. Clement’s Bay, and the Potomac River and was the home of the Piscataway Native American Tribe for centuries. The park offers canoeing and kayaking, fishing, hiking, hunting, birding, and 7 miles of waterfront.
Point Lookout State Park
Is Point Lookout State Park haunted? There’s only one way to know – visit! From a historic – and maybe haunted! — lighthouse to the museum about a Civil War prison camp that was there to Fort Lincoln, you can learn a lot about Maryland’s history at the park. There’s also camping, swimming, boating, hiking, and hunting.
St. Clements Island State Park
Maryland’s first settlers arrived on the Arc and Dove at St. Clement’s Island. A cross on the island, which is only accessible by boat, is dedicated to the memory of those first Marylanders. Regular boat tours on weekends take visitors to the 62-acre park, which offers fishing, hiking, and picnicking.
St. Mary’s River State Park
You’ll find a range of habitats within St. Mary’s River State Park, which sits at the northern end of the St. Mary’s River watershed. The park has wooded areas, fields, swamps, and small streams. The park is divided into two areas. Site 1 includes St. Mary’s Lake and offers hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, a playground. Site 2 is undeveloped and is a managed hunting area.
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