At a Glance
Hours: Park grounds open 7 days a week, 7 am to dusk. Visitor Center: 9 am – 4 pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and 10 am – 3 pm Saturday & Sunday.
Cost: Daily fee: $6/vehicle; annual and senior citizen lifetime passes available from County Recreation & Parks Department: see https://www.aacounty.org/services-and-programs/annual-park-permits
Tips: The park can be very crowded in summer. Try to visit in early morning or on weekdays.
Best Seasons: Winter, spring, fall.
Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Gibson Island NW, Gibson Island NE
8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, Maryland 21122
Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, Downs Park offers a variety of features attractive to birds and birders. The park is located on Bodkin Neck in northeastern Anne Arundel County. Bodkin Point, the northern-most tip of Bodkin Neck, juts out into the mouth of the Patapsco River, where the river joins the Chesapeake Bay. Thus Bodkin Neck is bounded by the Chesapeake Bay to the east, the Patapsco River to the north, and Bodkin Creek to the west. The land on the neck had been farmed since colonial times and Downs Park was formerly the site of a large private estate.
Downs Park is operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks. There are more than five miles of paved and natural trails throughout its 236 acres of woodlands, formal gardens, and beach front. Some of the trails have minor elevation changes. A self-guided nature trail, the Eco-Trail, loops through a wooded section in the south corner of the park. There are two small ponds, numerous small streams, and a tidal creek (Locust Cove).
There are outstanding recreational facilities throughout the park, including a fishing pier, children’s playground, basketball courts, and outdoor pavilions. There is also a youth camping area available by prior arrangement. Launch sites are provided on the bay front for kayaks and canoes and there are numerous picnic tables.
Over 175 species have been reported at the Downs Park eBird hotspot. Wintering birds include 23 species of waterfowl, with small numbers of dabbling ducks and a good assortment of diving ducks, such as Redhead, Canvasback, Bufflehead, both scaup, scoters, mergansers, Long-tailed Duck, and Ruddy Duck. Bonaparte’s Gulls may be seen in early spring feeding over offshore waters. Terns include Least, Caspian, Royal, and Forster’s in appropriate seasons. Red-throated Loons occur in spring, and Common Loons in spring, fall, and winter. Great Blue Herons are present year-round, and during the warm months, there may also be Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, and Black-crowned Night-Heron.
Osprey and Bald Eagles breed in the vicinity, as do Red-Shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks.
Songbirds include breeding populations of woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, warblers, thrushes, and so on. There are good migratory songbird flights in both spring and fall. A total of 22 species of warblers have been reported.
An aviary at the park houses injured birds of prey that cannot be released. ◾ The Friends of Downs Park sponsor an Adopt-an-Owl Program. ◾ Also see the Friends website at http://www.friendsofdownspk.org/ for a calendar of events and other information. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Anne Arundel Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
A short video tour of Downs Park is available on YouTube.
A large lot near the visitor’s center and small lots spread throughout the park; see trail map at link at left.
From the Baltimore area: Take I-97 south to Exit 14 for MD Route 100 east. Continue east on MD Route 100 for approximately 7.5 miles, then turn right (southeast) onto MD Route 177/Mountain Road. In 3.7 miles, where Route 177 bears right to the south, Pinehurst Road continues straight into the park.
From the Annapolis area or from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge: Take US Route 50 to Exit 27 for MD Route 2 north. Continue north on MD Route 2 for approximately 7.2 miles and then turn right (east) onto Magothy Bridge Road. Follow Magothy Bridge Road east and then north for 3 miles, to the intersection with MD Route 100. Turn right (east) on MD Route 100 and follow for 0.8 miles then turn right (southeast) onto MD Route 177/Mountain Road. In 3.7 miles, where Route 177 bears right to the south, Pinehurst Road continues straight into the park.
Anne Arundel County: Davidsonville Park ◾ Fort Smallwood Park ◾ Greenbury Point◾ Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary ◾ Kinder Farm Park ◾ Lake Waterford Park ◾ Mandares Creek MOS Sanctuary ◾ Oxbow Natural Area ◾ Patuxent Research Refuge – North Tract ◾ Piney Orchard Nature Preserve◾ Quiet Waters Park ◾ Sandy Point State Park ◾ Smithsonian Environmental Research Center ◾ Swan Creek Wetlands | Cox Creek Dredged Material Containment Facility
Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseSuburban Neighborhood Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams
Features:Ball Fields or Other SportsBeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Boat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingHiking/Walking TrailsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Chesapeake Bay Western ShoreCommunity and Urban Parks