At a Glance
Hours: Railway Trail (Boardwalk) open dawn to dusk; Bay Front Park open 6 am-9 pm; other spots have no restrictions.
Cost: Free, except there is a fee for Bay Front Park/Brownies Beach from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day if you do not live in town; the park is free to all in the off-season.
Tips: A spotting scope is essential. ◾ In winter, be sure to dress for extreme cold and possibly windy conditions. ◾ There are restrooms available in the Northeast Community Center, which fronts on Bayside Avenue next to the Water Park; the parking area is at 4075 Gordon Stinnett Avenue, behind the Water Park; hours are 8:30 am – 10 pm or later.
Best Seasons: Winter is best; fall and spring are good. Summer is crowded with beachgoers.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: North Beach CE
Various Locations, Chesapeake Beach, MD 20732
Chesapeake Beach is a century-old beach resort in northern Calvert County. The resort was once served by trains that brought visitors from Washington, DC. North Beach adjoins it to the north and the North Beach description should be read in conjunction with this one. Chesapeake Beach offers frontage on the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the fine marsh of Fishing Creek. For birders, the prime attractions are the excellent public access to the Chesapeake Bay shoreline, with its offer of waterfowl, gulls, terns, and shorebirds, and the boardwalk into the Fishing Creek marsh, where you can have close-up views of herons, egrets, rails, and marsh-dwelling sparrows and wrens. All the described birding spots are reached from MD Route 261/Bayside Road, which runs north-south as the main thoroughfare through town.
An excellent dawn stop is the Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail, a boardwalk that follows the old railway bed along Fishing Creek and through its marsh, giving a chance to find rails and other marsh species. The boardwalk comes to a T in 0.4 miles from its start; both the right and left branches offer some woods and shrubby habitat and are worth exploring. The two branches each go another half-mile or so and then dead-end. See directions below to reach the parking area for the Railway Trail.
A good spot for viewing the Chesapeake Bay is the Chesapeake Beach Veterans Memorial Park, 8217 Bayside Avenue, at the intersection with MD Route 260/Chesapeake Beach Road. There is no parking at the Memorial, but you can park at the Town Hall, at the southwest corner of 26th Street and Bayside Avenue, and walk north a block-and-a-half to the Memorial, being cautious when crossing Bayside Avenue.
A second Bay view stop is at the Chesapeake Beach Marina (aka Rod n’ Reel Marina) and Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum, just off Bayside Avenue at 4155 Mears Avenue. The museum shares a huge parking lot with the marina and a complex of other businesses including the Rod ‘N Reel Restaurant, the Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa, and a couple of charter fishing outfits. Park near the Museum and walk around to the beach side of the Rod ‘N Reel Restaurant, where there is a pavilion and seating area. You’ll have views not only of the open water of the Bay, but also of the rocky jetties to the immediate north and south. The jetties may hold shorebirds, gulls, terns (in season), and loafing waterfowl. The sandy beach and cove visible to the south from the patio of the resort may have additional birds. The beach itself is private property, so don’t walk down to it.
A third spot to view the Bay is the town’s Bay Front Park (aka Brownie’s Beach), on the Bay at the south end of town (7255 Bayside Road). The lane into the park may be marked as “Brownies Beach Road” on some maps. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, there is a fee for non-town residents to use the Park, but the Park is free to all during the off-season. The Park opens at 6 am and closes at 9 pm in summer. The 18-acre park features a woodlot adjacent to a sandy beach and offers views of the outlet of a small freshwater stream, so the habitat is good here for passerines as well as water-oriented birds. The park provides access to a town-owned boardwalk that extends north to 17th Street, offering additional views of the Bay.
All of the spots around Chesapeake Beach offer excellent bird lists. There are several eBird hotspots covering the town, including:
- Chesapeake Beach Railroad Trail – 159+ species
- Fishing Creek Marsh – 174+ species (viewed from the Railroad Trail)
- Chesapeake Beach–marsh and old impoundments – 112+ species (adjacent to the north end of the Railroad Trail)
- Chesapeake Beach Veterans Memorial Park – 124+ species
- Chesapeake Beach Marina – 128+ species (this is adjacent to the Railway Museum and the Rod n’ Reel Restaurant)
- Brownies Beach – 112+ species
Breeding species include Bald Eagle, Osprey, Green Heron, Wood Duck and Marsh Wren. Summer features egrets and terns including Common Tern. Fall and spring migration bring shorebirds. In winter, there may be “rockpipers” on the jetties; rails and sparrows, including Swamp Sparrow, in the Fishing Creek marsh; and a wide assortment of waterfowl in the Bay.
Some of the hotspots stand out as places to be alert for rarities: the Veterans Memorial (gulls), the Marina (Purple Sandpipers and others on the rock jetties), and the Railroad Trail/Fishing Creek Marsh (marsh dwellers such as Sedge Wren, Clapper Rail, Common Gallinule, or Tricolored Heron).
Lots at Railway Trail, Bay Front Park, Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum, Northeast Community Center, Town Hall. Also on-street parking meters, but watch for “Residents Only” restrictions and time limits.
This small town has many restaurants and other features that make it good for family outings. There is an annual winter holiday lighting tradition that makes a night-time visit worth the trip. ◾ The Beach Towns Water Trail runs along the Bay shoreline and connects the towns of North Beach and Chesapeake Beach. There is also a water trail along Fishing Creek. These water trails are described in the Calvert County Water Trails brochure.◾ The Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ 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.
From the Annapolis area: From US Route 50, take Exit 23 at Parole and go south on MD Route 2/Solomons Island Road. At MD Route 260/Chesapeake Beach Road, turn left (east). MD Route 260 will end at a T-intersection at MD Route 261/Bayside Road.
- Directly ahead on the other side of the intersection is the Chesapeake Beach Veterans Memorial Park, offering a view of the Bay. There is no parking here; but turn right and go south one block and park at the Town Hall at the corner of 26th Street and walk back to the Memorial. Be extremely cautious crossing the street to the Memorial.
- To reach parking for the Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail, continue south on MD Route 261/Bayside Avenue, and turn right (west) at the Chesapeake Beach Water Park onto Gordon Stinnett Avenue. Proceed to where the road makes a sharp left turn near apartment buildings, but instead of continuing into the apartment area, turn left (south) into a marina area. You should be on the WEST side of a short marina boat slip area. Park in any marked space except those reserved for slipholders. Walk to the south end of the parking lot for the start of the Railway Trail/boardwalk.
- To reach the Chesapeake Bay Marina (aka Rod n’ Reel Marina) and Chesapeake Bay Railway Museum, return to MD Route 261/Bayside Avenue and turn right. The huge parking lot for the Marina and Railway Museum will be ahead on the left in just half-a-block, immediately after the bridge.
- To reach Bayfront Park (aka Brownies Beach), return to MD Route 261/Bayside Avenue and turn left to go south again. The entrance to the park will be on the left in about 0.8 miles.
From points north in Prince George’s County: Take US Route 301 to Upper Marlboro. At Upper Marlboro, take MD Route 4 south and remain on Route 4 for 6 miles, then take the exit for MD Route 260/Chesapeake Beach Road eastbound. MD Route 260 will end at a T-intersection at MD Route 261/Bayside Road. See directly above for directions to parking for various locations.
From the south in Charles County: Take US Route 301 north to Upper Marlboro. At Upper Marlboro, take MD Route 4 south and remain on Route 4 for 6 miles, then take the exit for MD Route 260/Chesapeake Beach Road eastbound. MD Route 260 will end at a T-intersection at MD Route 261/Bayside Road. See above for directions to parking for various locations.
From the south in Calvert County: Take MD Route 2 to MD Route 261/Plum Point Road and go east. Route 261 will turn north near the Chesapeake Bay and will take you through the town of Chesapeake Beach.
- Bayfront Park (aka Brownies Beach) will be on the right just before entering town. The entrance to the park is about 340 feet north of the intersection with Chesapeake Village Boulevard on the left.
- To reach the Chesapeake Bay Marina (aka Rod n’ Reel Marina) and Chesapeake Bay Railway Museum, return to MD Route 261/Bayside Avenue and turn right to go north. The huge parking lot for the Marina and Railway Museum will be ahead on the right in just 0.8 miles, immediately before the bridge.
- To reach parking for the Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail, return to MD Route 261/Bayside Avenue, and turn right to go north over the bridge. Turn left (west) at the next intersection, at the Chesapeake Beach Water Park, onto Gordon Stinnett Avenue. Proceed to where the road makes a sharp left turn near apartment buildings, but instead of continuing into the apartment area, turn left (south) into a marina area. You should be on the WEST side of a short marina boat slip area. Park in any marked space except those reserved for slipholders. Walk to the south end of the parking lot for the start of the Railway Trail/boardwalk.
- Your next stop will be the Chesapeake Beach Veterans Memorial Park, offering a view of the Bay. Return to MD Route 261/Bayside Avenue and turn north. In less than a block, just past Trader’s Seafood, Steak & Ale, turn left into the parking lot for the Town Hall. There is no parking at the Memorial itself, so you will park here. Walk to the Memorial, located just 1 and 1/2 blocks north at the intersection with MD Route 260. Be extremely cautious crossing the street to the Memorial.
Calvert County: American Chestnut Land Trust – Parkers Creek Preserve ◾ Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary / Gatewood Preserve / Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm ◾ Calvert Cliffs State Park ◾Flag Ponds Nature Park ◾ Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum ◾ Kings Landing Park & Huntingtown Natural Resources Management Area ◾ North Beach ◾ Solomons Island ◾ Ward Farm Recreation & Nature Park
Charles County: ◾ Indian Creek Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Maxwell Hall Park
Anne Arundel County: Greenbury Point◾ Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary ◾ Sandy Point State Park ◾ Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerows Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseUrban or Small Town Landscape Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsHay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby MeadowsSandy Beach or Dunes Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & StreamsSalt or Brackish Marsh
Features:BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)BoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchBoat RentalsFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesObservation Platform or TowerOvernight Lodging or CabinsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsSnack Bar, Camp Store, Food ConcessionsSwimmingVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Chesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkChesapeake Bay Western ShoreDriving Tour (Roadside Birding)Hiker-Biker Trails (Paved)Water Trails