At a Glance

Hours: Grounds open 7 days a week, 5:30 am to dusk. Park office open Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. Park office is closed Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

Cost: $6.00/car or use annual county park pass or lifetime senior pass; see https://www.aacounty.org/services-and-programs/annual-park-permits.

Tips: Bring a scope. ◾ Restrooms are located throughout the park; see the trail map at the link below. ◾ A spring hawk watch is held annually at Fort Smallwood, starting March 1 and extending through early June. Drop in to watch raptor migration in action.

Best Seasons: Fall, winter, spring.

Local MOS Chapter: Anne Arundel Bird Club

Fort Smallwood Park

9500 Fort Smallwood Road, Pasadena, MD 21122
(410) 222-0087

Fort Smallwood Park, operated by Anne Arundel County, consists of 90 acres at the tip of a peninsula in northeastern Anne Arundel County, where the Patapsco River and Rock Creek meet the Chesapeake Bay. Fort Smallwood was in use as a military installation from 1890 until 1927, and was one of a series of forts providing an important defense to the approach to Baltimore Harbor. After decommissioning, it became a public park. Habitats here include a sandy beach, a freshwater pond, mature hardwoods and conifers, mowed grassy areas, and a rock jetty. The park offers easy walking with no hills.

The park is the site of the Anne Arundel County Big Sit each October, and a spring hawk watch staffed by volunteers. The hawk watch has been operating since the early 1980s. The annual start date is March 1 and the watch runs through early June. For more information on the hawk watch, see https://hawkcount.org/siteinfo.php?r=on&rsite=272&go=Go+To+Hawkwatch+Pro…

Upon arrival, take East Drive toward the water and park near the Battery, which offers good views for waterfowl and other migrants. Check the tall sweetgums and pines for seed-eating species and woodpeckers. Also check the large pond on the east side of the park for ducks, herons, and terns.

The park offers many visitor amenities, including a fishing pier, picnic tables, a playground, a swimming beach, and a soft launch for canoes and kayaks.

Birdlife:

Over 265 species have been reported on eBird.

Winter: Canvasback, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Ruddy Duck, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco.

Spring: Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Mississippi Kite, Sora, American Coot, Solitary Sandpiper, Bonaparte’s Gull, Caspian Tern, Chimney Swift, American Kestrel, Merlin, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, White-eyed Vireo, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Summer: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Tern, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingfisher, Red-eyed Vireo, Purple Martin, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Pine Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole.

Year-round: Canada Goose, Mallard, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Great Black-backed Gull, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Towhee, American Goldfinch.

Rarities: Golden Eagle, Swallow-tailed Kite, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

Parking:

Paved parking throughout the park; see trail map at link at left.

Special Features:

There are many visitor amenities at this historically significant fort and barracks, including a fishing pier, car-top boat launch, gazebo, playground, and snack stand. ◾ This park has been designated as the Fort Smallwood Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. ◾ 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.

Directions:

From the southern part of the Baltimore Beltway/Route 695: Take Exit 1 and go south on MD Route 173/Fort Smallwood Road. At the intersection with Riviera Drive, turn right to continue south on MD Route 173/Fort Smallwood Road. At Tick Neck Park on the right, turn left to continue south on MD Route 173/Fort Smallwood Road. Follow MD Route 173/Fort Smallwood Road as it turns first east and then north, to its terminus at Fort Smallwood Park.

From the South: Take I-97 to Exit 14 and go east on MD Route 100/Paul T. Pitcher Memorial Highway. From MD Route 100 east, turn left (north)onto MD Route 607/Magothy Bridge Road. Two lights later, turn right (east) onto MD Route 173/Fort Smallwood Road, and follow the road to its end (about 3 miles).

To reach the hawk watch site at the Park: Beyond the gatehouse, keep to the right and eventually you’ll come to a T intersection.  Turn right and park in the lot to the right of the fort (Battery Hartshorne). The favored spot for raptor observation is about midway down the east-facing shoreline. Proceed about 200 yards south on the path past the buildings on the right, stopping where the view broadens across the pond.

For other birding spots in the park: Consult the park map at the trail map link at left.

Nearby Sites:

Anne Arundel County: Downs Memorial Park, Kinder Farm Park, Lake Waterford Park,  Swan Creek Wetlands | Cox Creek Dredged Material Containment Facility

Baltimore City: Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center

Baltimore County: North Point State Park

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerows Garden or ParkLawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Sandy Beach or Dunes Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or Estuary

Features:

Ball Fields or Other SportsBeginnersBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingHawk WatchHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesLake, Pond, Bay, River, OceanParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsSnack Bar, Camp Store, Food ConcessionsSwimmingWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Audubon Important Bird AreasChesapeake Bay Western ShoreCommunity and Urban ParksThe Rivers of the Western Shore