At a Glance
Hours: 8 am – Sunset
Tips: A scope may be helpful for identifying field birds or for scoping vegetation bordering ponds. ◾ Trails may be wet or muddy. Wear sturdy waterproof hiking boots or shoes. ◾ Portable restroom near parking area.
Best Seasons: Year-round.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Millington SW
Local MOS Chapter: Kent County Bird Club
Cypress Branch State Park
10803 Galena Road, Millington, MD 21651
GPS Coordinates (near entrance): 39.271671, -75.836960
Headquarters: (410) 820-1668
A new state park on the Eastern Shore! This is a big deal! Cypress Branch State Park is one of Maryland’s newest state parks, having opened in April 2022. The state purchased the former Wick farm and plant nursery in 2014 and combined it with the existing state-owned Big Mill Pond Fish Management Area to create this 314-acre park. Management of the park is provided by employees based at Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline & Queen Anne’s Counties).
For the birder, Cypress Branch is intriguing because the park includes both wet and dry habitats. There are extensive agricultural fields and meadows as well as bottomland deciduous forests. There is a surprising amount of water and wetlands: two streams flow through the park, forming a Y-shaped drainage system. Edmonds Creek enters the park from the northwest and the larger Cypress Branch enters the park from the northeast. The two streams join just south of the park, and Cypress Branch continues flowing south to become a tributary of the Chester River. There are two small fishing ponds at the northwest corner of the park, near the entrance and main visitor area – these ponds are impoundments of Edmonds Creek. On the eastern edge of the park lies the much larger Big Mill Pond, covering about 33 acres, formed by damming Cypress Branch, and the smaller Little Mill Pond on Edmonds Creek. The streams and the Mill Ponds are associated with marshy areas.
At present, there is only a rudimentary trail system consisting of old farm lanes. The main entrance lane (dirt-surfaced) comes in from Route 313/Galena Road and angles southeast, providing access to the two small fishing ponds and a parking area near the entrance. There is a picnic area and portable restrooms, to be replaced with permanent restrooms in the future.
Beyond the parking area, the entrance lane continues to the southeast, but is gated, offering foot access, but not vehicle access, to the eastern section of the park. Just past the fishing ponds is a railroad track that runs north-south. Warning: this is an active railroad line and while it is permissible to cross it on foot, please observe extreme caution. On the east side of the tracks, the dirt lane continues to the southeast, entering the woods adjacent to Big Mill Pond. Water levels in the pond vary with the seasons and rainfall, and at times the pond may be mostly dry or filled in with vegetation.
If you walk the entrance lane all the way to Big Mill Pond, you will discover other existing farm lanes that criss-cross or circle the fields, providing further opportunities for birding. This is a big park and it will take several hours to cover it on foot. Birders are free to explore wherever they like.
In the future, the park will be developing and signposting foot-trails, and we’ll provide an update at that time. DNR also plans to work with the Natural Lands Project at Washington College to create meadows with native grasses and blooming plants. Supplemental parking areas will also be provided in the future.
Other activities at the park include fishing in the freshwater ponds near the entrance, hiking, biking, and picnicking at the tables overlooking the fishing pond. Only low-impact, passive recreation is allowed.
Cypress Branch State Park is being managed as a Natural Resources Management Area (NRMA) – this designation is used for state parks with significant or unique natural resources, including rare, threatened, and endangered species. A goal is to preserve and protect the natural resources and biological diversity while providing public access and recreation.
While visiting Cypress Branch State Park, you may want to stop briefly at Unicorn Fishing Lake Park (see also the the Unicorn Lake eBird hotspot); zUnicorn Lake features four small impoundments as well as a 43-acre lake with a mostly natural, forested shoreline. Unicorn Lake is located in Queen Anne’s County on the east side of MD Route 313, just 1.5 miles south of the intersection with MD Route 291 in the town of Millington.
The eBird hotspot for Cypress Branch State Park was created in April 2022, and as of September 2022 had already amassed 100+ species. A more complete list of the park’s bird species will of course develop over time as birders post eBird lists throughout the year.
Early signs are that this park will be a real gem for birders. It has already contributed the majority of coded species in its atlas block (Millington SW) for the Third MD-DC Breeding Bird Atlas.
Canada Goose is a confirmed breeder and Wood Duck and Mallard are probable breeders. Other confirmed breeders so far (June 2022) include Great Blue Heron (nest with young in 2020); Red-bellied Woodpecker; Carolina Chickadee; Tufted Titmouse; Barn Swallow; Carolina Wren; European Starling; Eastern Bluebird; Chipping Sparrow; Red-winged Blackbird; Common Grackle; and Northern Cardinal.
There is a longer list of potential breeders (coded Possible or Probable in the atlas eBird portal) including Yellow-billed Cuckoo; Chimney Swift; Ruby-throated Hummingbird; Green Heron; Osprey; Red-tailed Hawk; Barred Owl; Belted Kingfisher; Hairy, Downy, and Pileated Woodpeckers; Eastern Wood-Pewee; Acadian Flycatcher; Great Crested Flycatcher; Eastern Kingbird; White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos; Purple Martin; Tree Swallow; White-breasted Nuthatch; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; Gray Catbird; Brown Thrasher; Wood Thrush; American Robin; Cedar Waxwing; House Sparrow; House Finch; Field Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Yellow-breasted Chat; Orchard Oriole; Prothonotary Warbler; Kentucky Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; Pine Warbler; Scarlet Tanager; Blue Grosbeak; and Indigo Bunting.
Black and Turkey Vultures have been present in spring and summer and will likely be here year-round, as will Bald Eagle. Other raptors include Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and Red-shouldered Hawk.
Migrants have included shorebirds (e.g., Killdeer, Least, Semipalmated, and Solitary Sandpipers); Laughing Gull; Common Loon; and Glossy Ibis.
Fall migration in early September 2022 has already brought several warbler species (Worm-eating, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Cape May, Magnolia, Yellow, Prairie).
We urge birders to come out and bird at Cypress Branch and submit your checklists to eBird, to help round out the species list for this important new public park.
The smooth, flat dirt lanes might be usable by a wheelchair, but it would be best if the chair were equipped with large fat tires for off-road use. The lanes may be muddy at times. Some birding would be possible along the entrance lane and in the parking area near the fishing ponds.
Pets are allowed on leash; pick up after your pet.
Visitor activities include fishing, biking, and picnicking.
A brick farmhouse on the south side of the fishing pond is listed on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. The house is named “London Bridge” and was the centerpiece of a farm of the same name which was laid out on part of the original land grant that encompassed what is now the town of Millington (formerly known as Head of Chester). The original part of the house was built in the late 1700s but the house was extensively expanded and renovated over the years. It is considered to be one of the oldest residences in Millington. Source: MD Inventory of Historic Properties, Record K-169.
The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Kent County Bird Club, offering field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
Small parking area on the right along the entrance lane near the fishing pond. Additional parking areas are planned for the future.
Cypress Branch State Park is located in the northeastern part of Kent County, on MD Route 313 just north of the town of Millington. It is easily accessed from US Route 301.
The street address is: 10803 Galena Road, Millington, MD 21651
GPS Coordinates (near entrance): 39.271671, -75.836960
From the Baltimore area and points west: If traveling from western MD, use I-70 to reach I-695, the Baltimore Beltway. From the Beltway, take Exit 5 to I-97 south. Follow I-97 south to the terminus of I-97 at US Route 50/US Route 301. Follow signs to go east on 50/301 toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. After crossing the Bay Bridge, follow US Route 50/301 to the split of Routes 50 and 301, and bear to the left to follow Route 301 north toward Wilmington (do not take US Route 50 to Ocean City). Follow Route 301 north for approximately 26 miles, counting from the 301/50 split. Take the exit for MD Route 544 east; follow Route 544 for just 0.2 miles to a T-intersection at MD Route 313/Millington Road. Turn left to go north on Route 313 for 2.4 miles to the town of Millington. At Millington, stay straight to continue north on Route 313; the road is named Galena Road at this point. The entrance to Cypress Branch State Park will be on the right in about 0.9 miles.
From the Washington, DC or Annapolis areas: Use US Route 50 eastbound to reach the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. After crossing the Bay Bridge, follow US Route 50/301 to the split of Routes 50 and 301, and bear to the left to follow Route 301 north toward Wilmington (do not take US Route 50 to Ocean City). Follow Route 301 north for approximately 26 miles, counting from the 301/50 split. Take the exit for MD Route 544 east; follow Route 544 for just 0.2 miles to a T-intersection at MD Route 313/Millington Road. Turn left to go north on Route 313 for 2.4 miles to the town of Millington. At Millington, stay straight to continue north on Route 313; the road is named Galena Road at this point. The entrance to Cypress Branch State Park will be on the right in about 0.9 miles.
From Southern MD (Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties): In Calvert or St. Mary’s County, use MD Routes 2 or 4 northbound to reach US Route 50 near Annapolis. Then follow directions from Annapolis as above. If starting in Charles County, use MD Route 5 to reach US Route 301, then follow 301 to US Route 50 and the Bay Bridge as described for Annapolis above.
From points south on the Eastern Shore: From the Ocean City, Salisbury, Cambridge or Easton areas, use US 50 north to reach US 301 north. Follow Route 301 north for approximately 26 miles, counting from the 301/50 split. Take the exit for MD Route 544 east; follow Route 544 for just 0.2 miles to a T-intersection at MD Route 313/Millington Road. Turn left to go north on Route 313 for 2.4 miles to the town of Millington. At Millington, stay straight to continue north on Route 313; the road is named Galena Road at this point. The entrance to Cypress Branch State Park will be on the right in about 0.9 miles.
From Cecil County: Take MD Route 213 south to Galena. At the traffic light in Galena, stay straight to go south on MD Route 313. Follow Route 313 south to the intersection with US Route 301. You want to continue south here on Route 313, but it is not possible to go straight across the intersection with Route 301, which is a divided highway. So, turn right to go south on Route 301 for 0.3 miles, and at the first cross-over, make a U-turn to go north on Route 301, also for 0.3 miles. Then turn right to go south on MD Route 313 toward Massey. In 1.4 miles, in Massey, turn right to continue following Route 313 on Galena Road. The entrance to Cypress Branch State Park will be in 2.9 miles on the left.
Kent County: Buckingham Public Landing & Morgnec Road Public Landing ◾ Chesapeake Farms & St. Paul’s Millpond ◾ Chestertown: Wilmer Park, Wayne Gilchrest Trail, & Chestertown WWTP ◾ Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Millington Wildlife Management Area ◾ Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area & Turner’s Creek Park
Cecil County: Bethel Managed Hunting Area ◾ Bohemia River State Park ◾ Courthouse Point Managed Hunting Area ◾ Elk River Park & Elkton Marsh ◾ Elkton – Meadow Park, Eder Park, Hatchery Park, & Howard’s Pond
Queen Anne’s County: Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center – Horsehead ◾ Conquest Preserve ◾ Ferry Point Park ◾ Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach / Matapeake Fishing Pier & Boat Ramp ◾ Terrapin Nature Park ◾Tuckahoe State Park (Queen Anne’s County) ◾ Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area
Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams
Features and Amenities:BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)FishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families