At a Glance


  • Battle Creek Cypress Swamp: Memorial Day through Labor Day: Monday-Friday: 9 am-4:30 pm; Saturday: 10 am-6 pm; Sunday: 1 pm-6 pm. ◾ Labor Day through Memorial Day: Monday-Friday: 9 am-4:30 pm; Saturday: 10 am-4:30 pm; Sunday: 1 pm-4:30 pm. Closed most County holidays.
  • Gatewood Preserve: Dawn to dusk, daily.
  • Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm: Dawn to dusk, daily.

Cost: Free for all three properties.

Tips: The boardwalk through the swamp can be slippery. ◾ Public hunting is conducted on a portion of the property. Be aware of hunting seasons and plan your visit accordingly. ◾ Pets are NOT permitted at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, not even on a leash. ◾ Restrooms are located at the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Nature Center and at the Grays Road Dog Park. No restrooms at Gatewood Preserve or at Biscoe Gray Farm.

Best Seasons: Fall, winter, spring, and early summer.

Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Broomes Island NW

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary / Gatewood Preserve / Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm

2880, 2800, & 2695 Grays Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
(410) 535-5327

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, the Gatewood Preserve, and Biscoe-Gray Heritage Farm are a trio of county parks located in southwest Calvert County. Altogether, the three parks protect over 360 acres on the east bank of Battle Creek, a tributary of the Patuxent River. The creek in this area is surrounded by a noteworthy swamp of Bald Cypress trees.

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 1957 as its first sanctuary in Maryland. Battle Creek is now operated by Calvert County Parks and Recreation Department. The Sanctuary is approximately 118 acres in size and was established to protect one of the northernmost Bald Cypress swamps in the US. A quarter-mile elevated boardwalk trail leads directly through the swamp and an additional quarter-mile arboretum trail leads through a fallow field of approximately 20 acres. The gardens surrounding the Nature Center and parking lot are productive for spring migrants. The Nature Center at the Sanctuary offers interpretive programs and live animal exhibits.

In 2018, the County acquired the 48-acre Gatewood Preserve, which lies between Battle Creek Cypress Swamp and the Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm. The Gatewood Preserve property was a private residence and includes a house and barn. The majority of the property is open field and pasture which will be restored to grassland and meadow habitats. It has a breathtaking view of Battle Creek and direct water access. The vision for the Gatewood Preserve is to focus on passive recreation uses such as hiking, nature study, fishing, and paddling. Future improvements may include a floating kayak launch and/or a dedicated fishing pier and a boardwalk. The residence would be converted to a nature center that will support the county’s outdoor education programs. There is no marked trail system or trail map as yet, but eventually there will be a trail system interconnecting with the  trails at Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm and Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary.

Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm is an adjoining property acquired by the County in 2002. The development of Biscoe-Gray as a park is ongoing; the master plan provides that it will be a showcase for Calvert County’s agricultural heritage and a model for effective stewardship of land and water resources. The property consists of rolling fields surrounded by second-growth hardwood forest that is relatively free of invasive plants. There are traces of a road dating back to colonial times that extends from Gray’s Road all the way to Battle Creek, where a 19th century house is located. The farm also includes an early 20th century farm house and many barns and outbuildings. A hiking trail network extends through the property; see trail map at link at left. For the birder, the primary attractions at Biscoe Gray are the access to the water and swamps of Battle Creek and the field and forest habitats. Across the road from the Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm is the Gray’s Road Dog Park, consisting of open fenced fields surrounded by woods. Though there are no restrooms at Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm at present, there are portable restrooms at the Dog Park parking area.


Over 144 species have been reported on eBird from Battle Creek Cypress Swamp. The preserve is well known for its breeding population of Prothonotary Warblers, which are relatively easy to see from the boardwalk that winds through the swamp. Many Maryland birders have scored their life bird Prothonotary here. Other nesting warblers include Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Worm-eating, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Kentucky, Yellow-throated, and Pine.  There are also breeding Red-eyed, White-eyed, and  Yellow-throated Vireos. This is a great place to spot both Scarlet and Summer Tanagers. Significant winter species include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Swamp Sparrow, and Purple Finch.

A relatively new eBird hotspot at Gatewood Preserve lists 75 species to date (spring 2022). Another fairly new hotspot at Biscoe Gray lists 116 species. With additional visitation by birders, the birdlife at Gatewood and Biscoe Gray will probably prove to be similar to that at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, with perhaps some additional representation of field and edge species.

Wheelchair Access:

The trails at three properties are not wheelchair accessible.

Pet Policy:

Pets are NOT permitted at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, not even on leash. Please let your pet at home.

Pets are permitted on leash at Biscoe Gray and Gatewood Preserve; pick up after your pet.

Special Designations:

Special Features:

A 1956 article on Battle Creek Cypress Swamp published in the Maryland Conservationist makes interesting reading. ◾ Brent Steury completed a detailed fleuristics survey of Battle Creek Cypress Swamp; his detailed report can be downloaded from ◾ The nature center at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp offers a number of programs that focus on the natural and cultural heritage of the area. See the calendar. ◾ Ranger-led group programs at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp may be possible but must be scheduled in advance. Battle Creek Cypress Swamp has been designated as one of the state’s Natural Areas.  ◾ Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm has proven to be a rich archaeological site, with evidence not only of the colonial area farmers, but also dating back to prehistoric Native American settlements.

There is no chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society in Calvert County, but many birders participate in MOS through the Anne Arundel Bird Club or the Patuxent Bird Club; both of these MOS chapters offer field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public. In addition, the Southern MD Audubon Society serves birders in Charles, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and Prince George’s Counties.


The Nature Conservancy has an audio tour of Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, narrated by park naturalist Andy Brown; download the audio tour from


Paved parking near Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Nature Center. Parking area near the entrance of Gray’s Road at Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm. At Gatewood Preserve, park outside the preserve gates and walk in. Do not drive past the gate even if it is open. You may get locked in.


From the Washington DC Beltway/I-495: Take MD Route 4 South into Calvert County. Continue south of Prince Frederick. Continuing on Route 4 south of Prince Frederick, turn right (west) onto MD Route 506/Sixes Road. In 1.9 miles, look for the Battle Creek sign and turn left (south) onto Gray’s Road. The Battle Creek Cypress Sanctuary will be on your right in approximately one-quarter mile. Gatewood Preserve is the next property  on the right side of Grays’s Road, immediately south of Battle Creek Cypress Swamp. Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm is the third property on the right side of Gray’s Road as you head south.

From the Baltimore Beltway/I-695: Take I-97 south to US Route 301 South. Follow Route 301 South to Upper Marlboro and take the exit for MD Route 4 South. Then follow the directions as above.

Nearby Sites:

Calvert County: American Chestnut Land Trust – Parkers Creek PreserveCalvert Cliffs State ParkChesapeake BeachFlag Ponds Nature ParkJefferson Patterson Park & Museum ◾ Kings Landing Park & Huntingtown Natural Resources Management Area ◾ North BeachSolomons IslandWard Farm Recreation & Nature Park

Charles County: Indian Creek Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Maxwell Hall Park


Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsHay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainRivers & Streams


BeginnersBoardwalkFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesHorseback RidingNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsParkingPicnic AreaRestroomsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families


Chesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkGardens & ArboretaHistorical SitesNature CentersState Natural Areas & Wildlands