At a Glance

Hours: Open 9 am (sometimes opens at 8 am) to sunset, daily except for January 1, Thanksgiving, & December 25.

Cost: Free.

Tips: There is no hunting here!

Best Seasons: Fall and spring.

Local MOS Chapters: Patuxent Bird Club

Fort Foote Park

8915 Fort Foote Road, Oxon Hill, MD 20745
(301) 763-4600

Fort Foote Park is a neighborhood gem in southern Maryland that offers opportunities to ponder history and connect with the beauty of the Potomac River. Fort Foote is located on the Potomac River in Prince Georges County, just south of Washington, DC.  This park, operated by the National Park Service, is on the site of a gun battery installed on the Potomac River during the Civil War and subsequently abandoned. It operated as a fort from 1863 to 1878, when the post was abandoned, and was used only briefly during the First and Second World Wars. Less extensive than Fort Washington, little remains of Fort Foote’s former function.

For a birder, Fort Foote offers rare access to the Potomac shoreline, which is largely privately owned and developed. There is no fee to enter the park, and though small, it is relatively undeveloped and makes for a pleasant visit. The site is mostly wooded with an open recreation area along the entrance road. Beyond it, an area of scrub and tangles is sometimes left un-mowed, traversed by a mowed trail. There is an old road that extends northward from the entrance, offering easy walking access to most of the park. Views of the Potomac river are available through the trees.  A historic home, now being restored, is near the north end of the park, and that area offers relatively good views of the river.

Birdlife:

Over 100 species have been reported on eBird from this under-birded park. In fall, look for migrant sparrows and warblers in the tangles, and watch for migrating Red-headed Woodpeckers near the parking area. In both migration seasons, the wooded trails are good for migrant passerines. The river is perhaps best viewed from the area of the historic house near the north end of the park.  Look for waterfowl and gulls in the winter and terns and swallows in the summer.

Parking:

Small lot on the entrance road.

Special Features:

The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Patuxent Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.

Directions:

From the Capital Beltway (I-495/I-95), take Exit 3, MD Route 210/Indian Head Highway southbound, and drive for approximately 3.5 miles to Old Fort Road. Turn right (northwest) onto Old Fort Road and proceed for 1 mile. At Fort Foote Road, turn left (west). Fort Foote Road will take you due west through a residential development and then will make a sharp right turn to go north. Continue north on Fort Foote Road to the park entrance on the left, justbefore Jessica Drive on the right. Continue to the parking area.

Nearby Sites:

Piscataway (National) Park, National Colonial Farm & Wharf Road; Fort Washington Park; Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm.

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ParkLawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Hay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Mud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & Streams

Features:

BeginnersFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesLake, Pond, Bay, River, OceanParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsYoung People / Families

Type:

Historical SitesNational Parks & MonumentsThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails