At a Glance

Hours:

  • Main sanctuary grounds: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 9 am – 5 pm year-round; (Closed Sundays December-February).
  • Visitor Center and Main Office: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (Closed Sundays December-February), 9 am – 5 pm.
  • Glendening Preserve: Plummer Road entrance, Monday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm; Wrighton Road entrance, daily 9 am – 5 pm.
  • Patuxent Wetlands Park: daily dawn to dusk.
  • Preserve at Wayson’s Corner: daily dawn to dusk.

Cost: Main sanctuary grounds: $6 per vehicle, payable at the office at sign-in. An annual membership in the Friends of Jug Bay provides free admission. ◾ Glendening Preserve, Patuxent Wetlands Park, and Nature Preserve at Wayson’s Corner are free.

Tips: Before heading out on the trails at the main Sanctuary, all visitors must sign in at the Visitor Center. Non-members will pay the daily fee at sign-in. ◾ Bring a scope. ◾ Wear sturdy waterproof hiking boots; a hiking stick might be helpful. ◾ The Sanctuary is not open for public hunting but does conduct deer management hunts on specific days. Closures for deer management are announced on the Anne Arundel County website at https://www.aacounty.org/locations-and-directions/jug-bay-wetlands-sanctuary. Some of the closures may be outside the normal public deer season. Check before you go. ◾ Restrooms are at the Visitor Center and Main Office at the main sanctuary and at Plummer House at the Glendening Preserve. No restrooms at Patuxent Wetlands Park or the Preserve at Wayson’s Corner. ◾ Bicycles, pets and fishing are not permitted.

Best Seasons: Year-round.

Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Bristol CW, Bristol SW, Bristol SE

Local MOS Chapter: Anne Arundel Bird Club

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

Main Sanctuary – 1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711
Glendening Preserve – 1290 Wrighton Road & 5702 Plummer Lane, Lothian, MD 20711
Patuxent Wetlands Park – 1426 Mt. Zion Marlboro Road, Lothian, MD 20711
Nature Preserve at Wayson’s Corner – 5490 Sands Road & 5481 Southern Maryland Blvd, Lothian, MD 20711
(410) 222-7317

The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary complex preserves over 1,500 acres of tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, meadows, pine and sand barrens, fields, streams and open water on the eastern shore of the Patuxent River. The name “Jug Bay” refers to the expanded tidal marsh of the river, just south of the MD Route 4 bridge. The marsh harbors an extensive stand of wild rice, providing an important stopover ground for migratory birds in the fall. It is considered one of the most ecologically significant ecosystems in Maryland and the entire mid-Atlantic Region. The Jug Bay area is said to have one of the highest documented numbers of confirmed and probable breeding bird species (100+) of any location in the state. Over 200 bird species are observed at Jug Bay annually.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Parks and Recreation, with major assistance from the non-profit Friends of Jug Bay. On the opposite side of the Patuxent River, additional lands are protected through the Patuxent River Park system in Prince George’s County. Many other riverfront properties on both sides of the river are owned and managed by the State of Maryland. The two counties and the state cooperate in the management of the Jug Bay ecosystem and on research projects to enhance its health. Jug Bay is a splendid example of conservation work at its best. See the overview map of Jug Bay area parks at the link at left.

There are multiple public areas of Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, and you will need several visits to thoroughly explore all of them. There is limited opportunity to bird from the car; this is a get-out-and-walk kind of place.

  • The main sanctuary, also known as the Sanctuary Proper, includes the McCann Wetlands Center, Sanctuary offices, and a rich network of foot-trails on the south side of Wrighton Road. The trails include both upland habitat and wetlands. The Railroad Bed Trail, as the name implies, lies along the route of a former railroad that extended from Chesapeake Beach to Washington, DC, and provides good walking with gentle grades. Other trails can be steep and muddy, so be prepared. All trails are natural surface.
  • The Parris N. Glendening Nature Preserve, with additional trails and a butterfly garden, is north of Wrighton Rd. and is bordered by Plummer Lane on the east and MD Route 4 on the north. The trails here get you right out into the rich wetlands at the top of Jug Bay, with spectacular vistas of the open marsh.
  • Patuxent Wetlands Park is on Mt. Zion Marlboro Road just north of MD Route 4 and is a small parcel (43 acres) that features a soft launch for canoes and kayaks and a fishing pier.
  • The Nature Preserve at Wayson’s Corner is located at the intersection of Southern Maryland Boulevard and Sands Road on the north side of MD Route 4; this 30-acre property includes a short loop trail through open woods, featuring play activities for children.

There are also several areas of the Sanctuary that are used for research and conservation projects and are not open to the public on a regular basis. These include the River Farm and the Jug Bay Farm Preserve, both located south of the Sanctuary Proper. These are accessible by car only for special events, but can be reached on foot using the trail system that starts at the Main Office in the Sanctuary Proper. See the Sanctuary Proper trail map at the link at left.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary occupies only part of the extensive Jug Bay tidal marshes on the Anne Arundel side of the Patuxent River. There is also excellent access on the Prince George’s side of the river: see Patuxent River Park – Jug Bay Natural Area, Patuxent River Park – Mount Calvert Historical & Archaeological Park, and Merkle Natural Resources Management Area in this Birder’s Guide to Maryland & DC.

Birdlife:

Over 255 species have been reported on eBird from Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. The Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary’s official bird checklist lists 284 species.

There are multiple eBird hotspots covering the Sanctuary Proper and its related properties:

The Nature Preserve at Wayson’s Corner does not have an eBird hotspot as yet.

Specialties to look for, depending on the season, include Bald Eagle, Osprey, Northern Harrier, a wide variety of waterfowl, Sora, Least Bittern, gulls, terns, waders, Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow, and 11 breeding species of warblers, including  Prothonotary.

Winter: Tundra Swan, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Killdeer, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Rusty Blackbird.

Spring: Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Red-tailed Hawk, American Coot, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Caspian Tern, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Purple Martin, Black-and-white Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Palm Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler

Fall: Great Egret, Northern Harrier, Sora, Red-headed Woodpecker, Magnolia Warbler

Year-round: Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Eastern Towhee, American Goldfinch.

Parking:

Parking near the Visitor Center and Main Office at the Sanctuary Proper; at the Wrighton Road & Plummer Lane entrances to the Glendening Preserve; at Patuxent Wetlands Park; and at the Nature Preserve at Wayson’s Corner, which has two entrances, one on Southern Maryland Boulevard and one on Sands Road.

Special Features:

A butterfly garden is located at the Plummer House in the Glendening Preserve off Plummer Lane. ◾ The Sanctuary conducts a MAPS (breeding songbird population study), Patuxent Estuary Winter Waterbird Survey, and a bi-weekly year-round bird survey, as well as other research programs. ◾ The annual Jug Bay Christmas Bird Count regularly documents over 110 species, making this one of the most productive Christmas Bird Count locations in Maryland. The 15-mile diameter Jug Bay Christmas Count Circle is centered just north of the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary and extends east to the Chesapeake Bay and west to Upper Marlboro. The count circle includes parts of Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, and Calvert Counties. Jug Bay as a whole is designated as a State Natural Area and has special protections in place to protect its resources. ◾ The Wetlands Sanctuary lies within the Jug Bay Important Bird Area as designated by the National Audubon Society. ◾ Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary conducts an extensive environmental education program for children and adults, and there are many volunteer opportunities to support the Sanctuary’s education, research, and stewardship activities. ◾ The Jug Bay area is one of three Maryland locations for the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; the other two are the Anita Leight Estuary Center at Otter Point Creek (Harford County) and Monie Bay (Somerset County). ◾ Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is a certified Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Green Center. ◾ Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is one of the sites on the 80-mile-long Patuxent Water Trail. This is a paddle-in site only; no public launches.  ◾ 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.

Multimedia:

Directions:

For the Sanctuary Proper (1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711):

  • From the Eastern Shore: Use US Route 50/US Route 301 to access the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. After crossing the bridge, continue west on Route 50/301 toward Annapolis. Then take Exit 23 for southbound MD Route 2/Solomons Island Road. Then follow directions from Annapolis below.
  • From the Annapolis area: From MD Route 450/West Street at Parole, take MD Route 2/Solomons Island Road south for 18 miles. At the Lothian “circle” go 3/4 of the way around and stay southbound on Route 2. Go past the fire station, schools and St. James Church (on left) to the next stoplight at MD Route 258; turn right (west) onto MD Route 258/West Bay Front Road. Continue on Route 258 for 4.5 miles until this ends near the Park and Ride, just after crossing over MD Route 4. Here, you cannot continue straight (road becomes one-way); the only option is to make a left turn to go west on Wrighton Road. Turn left and continue west for 1.5 miles to the Sanctuary entrance on the LEFT (entrance sign). Follow the gravel drive about 1 mile to the parking area for the main Sanctuary.
  • From the Baltimore Beltway (I-695): At the south end of the Beltway, take Exit 4 for I-97 south. Stay on I-97 south for 11 miles, then take Exit 7 for MD Route 3/Crain Highway southbound. In about 9 miles, MD Route 3 will end as it crosses US Route 50; stay straight ahead to continue south on US Route 301 (still named Crain Highway) to Upper Marlboro in another 10 miles. Follow signs to take MD Route 4 eastbound. Go east/south on Route 4 for 2.9 miles, crossing over the Patuxent River, to the unnumbered exit for Plummer Lane on the right (first exit after crossing the river). Follow Plummer Lane south for 1/2 mile to the intersection with Wrighton Road. Turn right to go west on Wrighton Road and continue for o.6 miles to Sanctuary entrance on LEFT (sign at entrance). Follow the gravel drive about 1 mile to the parking area for the main Sanctuary.
  • From the Washington DC area: Use the Capital Beltway I-495 and proceed to the east side of the Beltway. From the Beltway, take Exit 11 for MD Route 4/Pennsylvania Avenue eastbound. Follow Route 4 east/south for about 10.8 miles, crossing over the Patuxent River, to the unnumbered exit for Plummer Lane on the right (first exit after crossing the river). Follow Plummer Lane south for 1/2 mile to the intersection with Wrighton Road. Turn right to go west on Wrighton Road and continue for o.6 miles to Sanctuary entrance on LEFT (sign at entrance). Follow the gravel drive about 1 mile to the parking area for the main Sanctuary.
  • From points east and south in Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties: Take MD Route 4 north to the unnumbered exit for MD Route 258/Bay Front Road.Where the long exit ramp intersects with MD Route 258, turn left to go west, crossing over MD Route 4 and following signs for a Park & Ride. After crossing the highway, MD Route 258 will bend northward, and the entrance to the Park & Ride will be on the right. Jut past the Park & Ride, you cannot continue straight (road becomes one-way in the other direction); the only option is to make a left turn to go west on Wrighton Road. Turn left and continue west for 1.5 miles to the Sanctuary entrance on the LEFT (entrance sign). Follow the gravel drive about 1 mile to the parking area for the main Sanctuary.

For the Glendening Preserve (1290 Wrighton Road & 5702 Plummer Lane, Lothian, MD 20711)

  • To reach the Wrighton Road entrance, follow directions above for the Sanctuary Proper. The entrance to the Glendening Preserve will be on the right shortly before the entrance to the main Sanctuary, which is on the left.
  • For the Plummer Lane entrance when coming from the Eastern Shore, Annapolis, Baltimore, or DC areas, follow directions above for the Sanctuary Proper.: The Plummer Lane entrance to the Glendening Preserve will be reached before you arrive at the Sanctuary Proper. This entrance will be on the right shortly after exiting MD Route 4.
  • For the Plummer Lane entrance when coming from the east or south, follow directions above for the Sanctuary Proper, but after arriving at Wrighton Road, continue for only 1.0 mile to a stop sign and turn right onto Plummer Lane. Go north on Plummer Lane for ¾ of a mile to the entrance to the Glendening Nature Preserve on the left just before the intersection with MD Route 4.

For Patuxent Wetlands Park (1426 Mt. Zion Marlboro Rd, Lothian, MD 20711):

  • From the Eastern Shore: Use US Route 50/US Route 301 to access the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. After crossing the bridge, continue west on Route 50/301 toward Annapolis. Then take Exit 23 for southbound MD Route 2/Solomons Island Road. Then follow directions from Annapolis below.
  • From Annapolis: From West Street at Parole, take MD Route 2 south for about 12.4 miles to the intersection with MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road, where there is a traffic circle. Go halfway around the circle to go west on MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road. Follow Route 408 west for 5.5 miles. In the little town of Wayson’s Corner, you will have to make a quick turn onto the dead-end section of Mt. Zion Marlboro Road that goes directly into the Wetlands Park. As you approach the overpass that takes Route 408 over MD Route 4, be alert for a sign on the right for Patuxent Wetlands Park will appear on your right. Turn right and then a hard left to continue onto the dead-end portion of Mt. Zion Marlboro Road and continue straight ahead for 0.4 miles to the end of the road at the Wetlands Park.
  • From the Baltimore Beltway (I-695): At the south end of the Beltway, take Exit 4 for I-97 south. Stay on I-97 south for 11 miles, then take Exit 7 for MD Route 3/Crain Highway southbound. In about 9 miles, MD Route 3 will end as it crosses US Route 50; stay straight ahead to continue south on US Route 301 (still named Crain Highway) to Upper Marlboro in another 10 miles. Follow signs to take MD Route 4 eastbound. Go east/south on Route 4 for 2.9 miles, crossing over the Patuxent River, to the unnumbered exit for MD Route 408 on the right (first exit after crossing the river). From the exit ramp, take the immediate next left to go east on MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road for just a few hundred feet. You’ll be passing over MD Route 4. Immediately after passing a left turn onto a ramp to return to MD Route 4 westbound, and where MD Route 408 is bending to the right, make a hard left to go west on the dead-end part of Mt. Zion Marlboro Road. This will bring you directly into the Wetlands Park in just 0.4 miles. If you miss the turn onto the dead-end, be careful not to take the next right, which is the entrance ramp for Route 4 northbound. If you do miss the turn for the dead-end section of MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road, continue on MD Route 408, passing over the bridge over MD Route 4, and turn around on the other side and then come back over the overpass and approach the turn onto the dead-end section of MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road from that direction (it will be a left turn).
  • From the Washington DC area: Use the Capital Beltway I-495 and proceed to the east side of the Beltway. From the Beltway, take Exit 11 for MD Route 4/Pennsylvania Avenue eastbound. Follow Route 4 east/south for about 10.8 miles, crossing over the Patuxent River, to the unnumbered exit for Plummer Lane on the right (first exit after crossing the river). From the exit ramp, take the immediate next left to go east on MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road for just a few hundred feet. You’ll be passing over MD Route 4. Immediately after passing a left turn onto a ramp to return to MD Route 4 northbound, and where MD Route 408 is bending to the right, make a hard left to go west on the dead-end part of Mt. Zion Marlboro Road. This will bring you directly into the Wetlands Park in just 0.4 miles.
  • From points east and south in Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties: Take MD Route 4 north to the unnumbered exit for MD Route MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road. At the end of the exit ramp, turn left to go north on Southern Maryland Boulevard for just 0.2 miles, then turn left on MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road. This next part is tricky. Make an immediate right and then a hard left to continue onto the dead-end section of MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road that goes west directly into the Wetlands Park. If you miss this turn, be careful not to take the next right, which is the entrance ramp for Route 4 northbound. If you do miss the turn for the dead-end section of MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road, continue on MD Route 408, passing over the bridge over MD Route 4, and turn around on the other side and then come back over the overpass and approach the turn onto the dead-end section of MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road from that direction (it will be a left turn).

For the Nature Preserve at Wayson’s Corner (5490 Sands Road & 5481 Southern Maryland Blvd, Lothian, MD 20711):

  • From the Eastern Shore: Use US Route 50/US Route 301 to access the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. After crossing the bridge, continue west on Route 50/301 toward Annapolis. Then take Exit 23 for southbound MD Route 2/Solomons Island Road. Then follow directions from Annapolis below.
  • From Annapolis: From West Street at Parole, take MD Route 2 south for about 12.4 miles to the intersection with MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road, where there is a traffic circle. Go halfway around the circle to go west on MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road. Follow Route 408 west for just under 5 miles and then turn left to go south on Sands Road. The parking lot for the Nature Preserve will be on the right (west) side of the road in about 0.3 miles.
  • From the Baltimore Beltway (I-695): At the south end of the Beltway, take Exit 4 for I-97 south. Stay on I-97 south for 11 miles, then take Exit 7 for MD Route 3/Crain Highway southbound. In about 9 miles, MD Route 3 will end as it crosses US Route 50; stay straight ahead to continue south on US Route 301 (still named Crain Highway) to Upper Marlboro in another 10 miles. Follow signs to take MD Route 4 eastbound. Go east/south on Route 4 for 2.9 miles, crossing over the Patuxent River, to the unnumbered exit for MD Route 408 on the right (first exit after crossing the river). From the exit ramp, take the immediate next left to go east on MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road. You’ll be passing over MD Route 4. Continue east on MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road for about 0.6 miles to the intersection with Sands Road. Make a right to go south on Sands Road. The parking lot for the Nature Preserve will be on the right (west) side of the road in about 0.3 miles.
  • From the Washington DC area: Use the Capital Beltway I-495 and proceed to the east side of the Beltway. From the Beltway, take Exit 11 for MD Route 4/Pennsylvania Avenue eastbound. Follow Route 4 east/south for about 10.8 miles, crossing over the Patuxent River, to the unnumbered exit for MD Route 408 on the right (first exit after crossing the river). From the exit ramp, take the immediate next left to go east on MD Route 408/Mt. Zion Marlboro Road for about 0.6 miles to the intersection with Sands Road. Make a right to go south on Sands Road. The parking lot for the Nature Preserve will be on the right (west) side of the road in about 0.3 miles.
  • From points east and south in Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties: Take MD Route 4 north to the unnumbered exit for MD Route 258 and Southern Maryland Boulevard. Where the exit ramp intersects MD Route 258, go straight across the intersection to continue north on Southern Maryland Boulevard; this road parallels MD Route 4 which will be on the left. In 1.6 miles, turn right to go north on Sands Rd. The parking lot for the Nature Preserve will be on the left (west) side of the road in about 0.2 miles.

Nearby Sites:

Anne Arundel County: Davidsonville Park Greenbury Point Quiet Waters Park Sandy Point State Park Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Prince George’s County: Governor Bridge Natural Area Merkle Natural Resources Management Area Patuxent River Park – Jug Bay Natural Area Patuxent River Park – Mount Calvert Historical & Archaeological Park ◾ Rosaryville State Park Schoolhouse Pond

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsHay Meadows, Pasture, Grass FieldOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams

Features:

BeginnersBird Feeding StationBoardwalkHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsObservation Platform or TowerParkingPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Audubon Important Bird AreasMAEOE Green CenterNature CentersState Natural Areas & WildlandsThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails