At a Glance
Hours: Open sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year.
Tips: This is an active hunting area. Be aware of hunting seasons and plan your visit accordingly. ■ No restrooms. Closest restrooms are portable units at the nearby Hallowing Point public boat launch and park on the south side of the east end of the Route 231 bridge.
Best Seasons: Year-round.
Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Benedict SW, Benedict SE, Mechanicsville NW
Indian Creek Natural Resources Management Area
Just West of 17823 Prince Frederick Road, Hughesville, MD 20637
Indian Creek Natural Resources Management Area, located in Charles County near the Route 231 bridge over the Patuxent River, offers the opportunity to bird in an agrarian landscape consisting of agricultural fields interspersed with hedgerows and woodlots. (Note: some maps label this property, in whole or in part, as the Patuxent River Natural Resources Area). The 659-acre property, managed by the MD Department of Natural Resources as a hunting area, has significant frontage on the Patuxent River, with a fringe of tidal marshland. There are two small freshwater ponds, made by damming a small stream, and some other scattered wetlands.
The area is accessed from a gravel parking lot just off the south side of MD Route 231 a short distance west of the bridge over the river. From the parking area, a dirt and grass lane leads south into the heart of the property, and continues in a southerly direction almost to the banks of the Patuxent marshes that fringe the shoreline, making occasional detours around hedgerows and woodlots. One such detour goes around the smaller of the two ponds, giving a view of its tree-ringed waters. The larger of the two ponds requires some bushwhacking and a degree of persistence to reach a view of its waters.
The crops planted in the fields vary from year-to-year, and the birds using the fields varies with the crops. Some of the fields may be planted with pollinator plants such as milkweed, Euphorbias, and coneflowers, and these fields may be rich with butterflies and dragonflies during blooming season.
The walking is generally on level ground but the main lane may be rutted and/or muddy, depending on recent rains. As the crow flies, it is about 1.2 miles from the parking area to the southernmost part of the property, but the walking distance will be more because of the way the main lane jogs around tree lines. The southwest sector of the property near Indian Creek consists of dense, wet woods with no maintained trails. Likewise, the eastern edges consist of wetlands adjacent to Mill Creek, and are not generally accessible on foot. For best viewing of the marshes and wetlands, launch a kayak or canoe from Hallowing Point State Park and Boat Launch, located on the other side of the river, at the foot of the Route 231 bridge at its east end in Calvert County.
About 165 species have been reported on eBird from Indian Creek NRMA. The NRMA offers a good mix of wetland and land birds.
Don’t expect a lot of waterfowl: there are only 9 species reported on eBird, and two of those are Canada Goose and Mallard. Wetland areas might hold American Coot, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, or Solitary Sandpiper. Laughing Gulls are frequent in the summer, and Ring-billed and Herring Gulls in the winter. Great Blue Heron and Green Heron might be seen flying over or in the wetlands.
Osprey and Bald Eagle are abundant local breeders, and the eagles remain year-round. Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks also breed locally. Northern Harriers might be found in the fall. The habitat is good for American Kestrel, and Merlin and Peregrine Falcon might be found during fall migration.
Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, and Tree Swallow all nest locally (Barn Swallows nest under the Route 231 bridge) and are frequently seen feeding over the fields. Depending on the crops planted in any particular year, Horned Larks can be in the fields, as well as American Pipit, Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark,
In breeding season, the hedgerows hold Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orchard Oriole. In winter, expect kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Purple Finch, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned and White-throated, Vesper Sparrow, and Swamp Sparrow. There is a moderate diversity of warblers (16 species), mostly during migration.
The trails in the NRMA are not wheelchair accessible.
Dogs must be kept on a leash when not engaged in hunting.
Indian Creek NRMA offers hunting, fishing, and hunting dog-training. ■ The NRMA can be good for odonates and butterflies when plants are blooming in summer. ■ The land that is now Indian Creek NRMA played a role in the War of 1812, when British troops came ashore and camped there. The NRMA is now a site on Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail,with interpretive signage at the parking lot.
Local Bird Clubs:
There is no chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society in Charles County, but many birders participate in MOS through the Anne Arundel Bird Club or the Patuxent Bird Club; both of these MOS chapters offer field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public. In addition, the Southern MD Audubon Society serves birders in Charles, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and Prince George’s Counties.
Gravel lot at entrance.
From Prince George’s County and other points north and west: Use US Route 301 to go south to Waldorf. In Waldorf, turn left to go southeast on MD Route 5/Leonardtown Road for 10.2 miles. At the roundabouts at Hughesville, follow signs to take MD Route 231/Prince Frederick Road east for 5.5 miles. The entrance to Indian Creek is a gravel road on your right (south side of the road), just past a house at #17755 and almost opposite the foot of Serenity Farm Lane on the other side of the road. If you reach the MD DNR Police Office at #17823, you have gone too far.
From La Plata or other areas in western Charles County: Take MD Route 6/ East Charles Street east out of La Plata, and drive east for about 7.0 miles. At Olivers Shop Road, turn left to go northwest for 3.5 miles, then turn right to go east on MD Route 231/Burnt Store Road for 3.6 miles. At the roundabouts at Hughesville, follow signs to take MD Route 231/Prince Frederick Road east for 5.5 miles. The entrance to Indian Creek is a gravel road on your right (south side of the road), just past a house at #17755 and almost opposite the foot of Serenity Farm Lane on the other side of the road. If you reach the MD DNR Police Office at #17823, you have gone too far.
From St. Mary’s County: Use MD Route 5 or MD Route 235 to go north to Hughesville. At the roundabouts at Hughesville, follow signs to take MD Route 231/Prince Frederick Road east for 5.5 miles. The entrance to Indian Creek is a gravel road on your right (south side of the road), just past a house at #17755 and almost opposite the foot of Serenity Farm Lane on the other side of the road. If you reach the MD DNR Police Office at #17823, you have gone too far.
From Anne Arundel or Calvert County: Use MD Route 2/4 to go south to Prince Frederick. In Prince Frederick, turn right to go west on MD Route 231/Hallowing Point Road for about 6.7 miles. Indian Creek NRMA will be on your left, just under a mile after the bridge over the Patuxent River. The entrance to Indian Creek is a gravel road, just past a MD DNR Police Office at #17823 and almost opposite the foot of Serenity Farm Lane on the other side of the road. There is no left-turn lane. Given the fast-moving traffic on Route 231, it may be wise to continue past the NRMA entrance and find a safe place to turn around so that you can approach with the NRMA on your right as you return using eastbound Route 231.
From the Eastern Shore: Use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and continue west on US Route 50 to Annapolis. Take Exit 23 to go south on MD Route 2, and then follow directions as given above from Anne Arundel County.
Charles County: Allen’s Fresh Natural Area / Zekiah Swamp Natural Environmental Area ■ Cedarville State Forest ■ Chapman State Park & Chapman Residual Wildlife Management Area ■ Indian Head Rail Trail ■ Mattawoman Natural Environmental Area ■ Maxwell Hall Park ■ Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management Area ■ Smallwood State Park
Charles County: Allen’s Fresh Natural Area / Zekiah Swamp Natural Environmental Area Chapman State Park & Chapman Residual Wildlife Management Area Indian Head Rail Trail Mattawoman Natural Environmental Area Maxwell Hall Park Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management Area Smallwood State Park
Calvert County: American Chestnut Land Trust – Parkers Creek Preserve ■ Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary / Gatewood Preserve / Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm ■ Calvert Cliffs State Park ■ Flag Ponds Nature Park ■ Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum ■ Solomons Island
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland 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 & StreamsSalt or Brackish Marsh
Features:BeginnersFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsParkingPets AllowedWater View