Explore Maryland State Parks in Southern Maryland

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on September 12, 2018

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. Image via Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Calvert County

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/calvertcliffs.aspx

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.

Website: http://www.jefpat.org/index.html

Smallwood State Park. Image via Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Charles County

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/chapelpoint.aspx

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/chapman.aspx

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/cedarville.aspx

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.

Website:  http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/smallwood.aspx

Image via the Greenwell Foundation website.

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/greenwell.aspx

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/newtowne.aspx

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/pointlookout.aspx

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/stclements.aspx

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.

Website: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/stmarysriver.aspx

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