Cambridge – Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Dorchester County Side)
603 Radiance Drive, Cambridge, MD 21613
The Bill Burton Fishing Piers are the former US Route 50 bridge over the Choptank River between Dorchester and Talbot Counties. After the new Route 50 bridge was built, the old bridge was kept for fishing access, but the middle portion of the bridge was removed to accommodate boat traffic, so the two sides are now disjunct. The Talbot side of the pier is one mile in length and the Dorchester side of the pier is ½ mile in length. The Talbot side on the north shore of the Choptank also has about 25 acres of ground, including a sandy beach and some short trails. See the related entry under Talbot County in this Birder’s Guide.
The pier area on the Dorchester County side of the river is in the historic port town of Cambridge. Access to the pier connects with the path that goes under the bridge to the nearby Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center, where there are restrooms, visitor information, and other amenities. One can also walk upriver (east) from the bridge, using the public streets to access additional water views, but stay off the private docks that dot the waterfront here.
The Bill Burton Fishing Piers are quite popular with fishermen because of the variety of fish that can be caught, and just as popular with birders because of the variety of waterfowl and other water-related birds that can be found. In addition, everything from deer to muskrats can be seen from the walking paths at different times throughout the year. The piers on both sides of the river are wheel-chair accessible.
The state park’s name honors Bill Burton, a reporter, writer and fisherman who has for more than 50 years chronicled outdoor opportunities for Maryland citizens. Mr. Burton was instrumental in preserving the Bridge for a fishing pier when the new bridge was constructed.
Over 105 bird species have been reported on eBird for the Bill Burton Fishing Pier on the Dorchester County side. Note that the pier on the Dorchester side shares an eBird hotspot with the Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center under the name “Choptank River–Rte. 50 Bridge (Dorchester Co.) and Cambridge Visitor Center.” The pier is an excellent observation spot for Osprey, Canada Geese, and a large variety of waterfowl and shorebirds. The area is especially good for viewing Common Goldeneye, Common Loon, and Horned Grebe, often in breeding plumage before they depart in spring. A pair of Peregrine Falcons nest on the Choptank River Bridge (probably most reliably seen from the pier or from Sailwinds Park).
Paved lot off Radiance Drive at the foot of the bridge. Also parking nearby at Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center.
Fishing (tidal fishing license required), crabbing (recreational crabbing license may be required), biking, and picnicking are all permitted. There are picnic tables in the meadow on the Talbot County side. ◾ See also Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center for additional amenities. ◾ Check out the “Birding in the Heart of Chesapeake Country” brochure produced by the Dorchester County Tourism Office and MD DNR. You can also pick up a printed copy at the Sailwinds Park and Visitor Center in Cambridge. The brochure outlines five birding/driving tours through Dorchester County, and also has an overview of birds and habitats in the county. ◾ The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Maryland Historic Trust have produced a series of water trail maps for the Choptank River and Tuckahoe Creek, available as a free download.◾ There is no local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society centered in Dorchester County, so many local birders are members of the Talbot Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
A Voice for the Rivers is a special episode of Outdoors Maryland from Maryland Public Television that focuses on the work of the riverkeepers in safeguarding and working to improve the health of the major rivers of the Upper Eastern Shore: the Sassafras, the Wye, the Miles, the Chester, and the Choptank. There is beautiful footage of the open waters, marshlands, and shoreline forests, as well as discussion of the challenges of pollution and sea level rise.
Cambridge has many one-way streets, so follow these directions carefully.
To reach the Dorchester County side of the Fishing Pier from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge: Take US Route 50 south and east toward Cambridge. Just after crossing the Choptank River Bridge and upon entering the town of Cambridge, turn left (east) onto Maryland Avenue. Go one block and turn left (north) onto Rambler Road. Go one block and turn left (west) at the T-intersection onto Radiance Drive. Parking is on the right at the foot of the bridge.
From points north on the Eastern Shore: Take US Route 301 south to MD Route 213, then follow Route 213 south to its intersection with US Route 50. Take US Route 50 south toward Cambridge. Just after crossing the Choptank River Bridge and upon entering the town of Cambridge, turn left (east) onto Maryland Avenue. Go one block and turn left (north) onto Rambler Road. Go one block and turn left (west) at the T-intersection onto Radiance Drive. Parking is on the right.
From Vienna and points south: Take US Route 50 north and west toward Cambridge. After passing a Dunkin’ Donuts on the left at Roslyn Avenue, go one more block and turn right (east) onto Maryland Avenue. Go one block and turn left (north) onto Rambler Road. Go one block and turn left (west) at the T-intersection onto Radiance Drive. Parking is on the right.
Dorchester County: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Cambridge – Great Marsh Park ◾ Cambridge – Oakley Street ◾ Cambridge – Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center ◾ Chesapeake Forest – North Tara Road ◾ Elliott Island Road / Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area (Eastern Section) ◾ Hooper’s Island ◾ Taylor’s Island
Caroline County: Adkins Arboretum ◾ Choptank Marina ◾ Daniel Crouse Memorial Park ◾ Idylwild Wildlife Management Area ◾ Martinak State Park ◾ Skeleton Creek Road & Bethlehem Road ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline County)
Somerset County: Deal Island Wildlife Management Area ◾ Fairmount Wildlife Management Area ◾ Irish Grove MOS Sanctuary ◾ Janes Island State Park ◾ Rumbley Boat Ramp ◾ Smith Island
Talbot County: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Talbot County Side) ◾ Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Claiborne Landing ◾ Mill Creek MOS Sanctuary ◾ Pickering Creek Audubon Center ◾ Poplar Island
Wicomico County: Cedar Hill Marina & Park ◾ Ellis Bay Wildlife Management Area ◾ Nanticoke River Wildlife Management Area – Nutter’s Neck ◾ Pemberton Historical Park ◾ Roaring Point & Nanticoke Harbor ◾ Tyaskin Park & Wetipquin Park ◾ Ward Museum & Schumaker Pond
Urban or Small Town Landscape Jetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams
BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)BoardwalkFishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsObservation Platform or TowerParkingPicnic AreaRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Chesapeake Bay Eastern ShoreCommunity and Urban ParksState ParksThe Rivers of the Eastern ShoreWater Trails