Birding · Historical Significance · River/Creek · Wildlife
Open every day, year-round, 8 am - dusk.
This loop hike samples many of the highlights that can be found in the Patuxent River Park/Jug Bay Natural Area. Boardwalks through the tidal marshlands of the Black Walnut Creek Nature Study Area, viewpoints across the Patuxent River, and well-maintained trails that wind through the surrounding woodlands.
This area is also home to the headquarters for the Patuxent River Park, part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, and designated an "Important Birding Area" by the National Audubon Society for its ecological importance within the greater Patuxent Riverway.
And for all its ecological accolades, it still manages to provide intimate natural experiences for visitors on foot, bike, or horseback, with acres of land to explore in solitude.
As the trails in the Jug Bay Natural Area can be traveled in either direction, this loop hike can be done in reverse or adapted to accommodate groups of varying abilities and/or ages.
From the Jackson's Landing parking area, head south on the Brown Trail
across the boardwalk to find the Brown Trail: Overlook
. Enjoy the view across Jug Bay and the Patuxent River before continuing south to join the Green Trail
. Turn left onto the Green Trail
leaving the Black Walnut Creek Nature Study Area through the woods toward a longer spur to another viewpoint. This spur can be skipped, cutting off around 0.8 miles.
Head southwest on the Green Trail
and at the next intersection, turn left (southeast) onto the Red Trail
, which descends toward the Historic Croom Airport. At the northwest corner of the airport, turn right (west) onto the Yellow Trail
(hiker-only) which rolls through the Swan Point Creek drainage area to connect with the Blue Trail
Turn right (north) onto the Blue Trail
, knowing the loop is over halfway complete. Continue north and northwest on the Blue Trail
, gradually climbing toward the western boundary of the natural area and the high point of the hike. Here, use the Purple Spur
and Purple Trail
to loop to the north and northeast to reconnect with the Red Trail
for the last 0.75 miles.
Bring a paper map from the Visitor's Center or use the Hiking Project mobile app
to help navigate along the way.
Flora & Fauna
Osprey, soras, egrets, grosbeak, tanagers, warblers, geese. Hardwood swamp, wild rice, red maple.
History & Background
Patuxent River Park was established in 1962 before the Patuxent River was designated a Maryland Scenic River in 1968. Visit the Patuxent Rural Life Museum to explore a group of 19th-20th-century buildings that show and describe what life was like in southern Maryland.
Shared By: Zander Göpfert