At a Glance

Hours: Open 9 am to sunset daily, except closed on January 1, Thanksgiving, & December 25.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Bring a scope. ◾ The trails near the entrance road are fairly well maintained, but become less so the farther you go toward the Potomac River. Be prepared for possible trees down over the trails and for unmowed grass and/or muddy conditions. Sturdy hiking boots are recommended. ◾ There is no hunting here. ◾ No restrooms.

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, and then was used only briefly as a military training site during the First and Second World Wars. Less extensive than Fort Washington, little remains of Fort Foote’s former function, although interpretive signs point out the more significant remnants of the fort. The main impression is that the woods are taking over the site of the former fort.

For a birder, Fort Foote offers rare access to the Potomac shoreline, which is largely privately owned and heavily developed. There is no fee to enter the park, and though small (about 76 acres), it is relatively natural 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 unmowed, traversed by a mowed trail. There is an old road that extends northward from the entrance, offering easy walking access to some of the park. Unmarked foot-trails extend from the entrance road toward the Potomac shoreline. Views of the river are available through the trees; the north end of the park probably offers the best views.

Birdlife:

Over 105 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 spring and fall migration seasons, the wooded trails are good for migrant passerines. Look for waterfowl and gulls in the winter and terns and swallows in the summer.

Parking:

Small parking 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, just before Jessica Drive on the right. Continue to the parking area.

Nearby Sites:

Prince George’s County: Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Colmar Manor Community Park & Anacostia River Trail, Fort Washington (National) Park, Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill FarmPiscataway (National) Park: National Colonial Farm, Boardwalk, Wharf Road/Farmington Landing & Marshall Hall, Schoolhouse Pond

Washington, DC: Anacostia Park, Constitution Gardens, East Potomac Park (Hains Point) and the Tidal Basin, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, National Arboretum, National Zoo, Rock Creek Park

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, 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 FeaturesParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsWater ViewYoung People / Families

Type:

Historical SitesNational Parks & MonumentsThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails