At a Glance
Hours: 8 am to sunset. Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to be in the park before or after the posted hours.
Cost: Grounds and trails are free; fees for camping and boat launch.
Tips: Restrooms are located throughout the park; see the trail map at the link below.
Best Seasons: Fall, winter, spring. The park can be crowded in summer.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Hobbs NW
Martinak State Park
137 Deep Shore Rd, Denton, MD 21629
Note: As of August 1, 2021, the Martinak State Park Boat Ramp and surrounding area is closed for repairs and improvements. A completion date has not been announced.
Martinak State Park is located in the heart of Caroline County, just south of Denton. Bordered by the Choptank River and Watts Creek, this 105-acre park supports a wide variety of plant and animal life. The park contains hardwood and pine forests and wetlands that represent the typical ecosystems of the mid-Eastern Shore. The park offers excellent access to the Choptank River and its associated marshes.
George Martinak, George Martinak, a retired government printer, World War I veteran, and camping enthusiast, bought the land in the 1920s as a private hunting and fishing camp, and donated it to the state in 1961 so that it could be preserved as a recreational facility and natural area for the enjoyment of all.
A good trail system (see map at link at left) will allow you to explore all areas of this compact park. The Point Trail, which is an out-and-back trail that heads southwest from the boat launch area, is especially good because it ventures out onto a long point of land where Watts Creek joins the Choptank River. Much of the point has marshy habitat and the trail system winds through the marsh. Other trails in the park will take you through the forest habitat. The Activity Trail is a loop that encircles part of the campground and is wheelchair-accessible.
Note that the State Park trail map is geolocator enabled, which means that you can load it into a GPS unit or a GPS app on a smartphone (such as the free Avenza app), and while you’re in the park, the map will display your exact location and track your movements. This is a great way to avoid getting lost.
Amenities at the park include a playground, picnic shelters, a nature center, and an amphitheater on the waterfront. There are also campsites and camping cabins, along with a boating and fishing area that includes a boat ramp and a soft launch for canoes and kayaks. Canoe rentals are available.
Over 155 species have been reported from the eBird hotspot at Martinak State Park. In general, Martinak State Park is under-birded, and regular visitation with submission of eBird checklists would help to fill out the picture of bird life using this park.
There is a good selection of wintering waterfowl, with 19 species of ducks and geese, including Snow Geese in January and February. Wood Ducks nest in the area. Other waterbirds include Pied-billed Grebes, which overwinter, and Double-crested Cormorants, which are common in spring and in late summer through early fall.
There are scattered reports of shorebirds, including American Woodcock, Wilson’s Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, and Greater Yellowlegs. Be alert for exposed mudflats along the Choptank and Watt’s Creek and check them carefully. Among waders, Great Blue Herons are easy to see throughout the year, and are joined by Great Egrets and Green Herons during the spring and summer. Summer also brings swallows: Purple Martin, Tree, Barn, and a few Northern Rough-winged.
The annual gull and tern assortment includes Laughing Gull in summer, Bonaparte’s in April, and Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed in fall through spring. Caspian Terns are regular in spring and Forster’s Terns are present in spring and again in late summer and early fall. Sometimes a Least Tern can be found in spring as well.
Raptors include Bald Eagles and Ospreys, which nest in the area, along with Red-Shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks. The three local owls are Barred, Great Horned, and Eastern Screech. There are only scattered reports of American Kestrel and Merlin; they are not regular here.
The resident woodpeckers include Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Pileated, and Northern Flicker. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are plentiful in winter. Red-headed Woodpeckers are sometimes seen during fall migration but do not nest here.
The summer bird population includes Eastern Wood-Pewee; Acadian Flycatcher; Eastern Phoebe; Great Crested Flycatcher; Eastern Kingbird; White-eyed Vireo; Red-eyed Vireo; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; House Wren; Wood Thrush; House Finch; Chipping Sparrow; Orchard Oriole; Baltimore Oriole; Brown-headed Cowbird; Summer Tanager; Scarlet Tanager; Blue Grosbeak; and Indigo Bunting.
Year-round songbirds include Blue Jay; both crows; Carolina Chickadee; Tufted Titmouse; White-breasted Nuthatch; Carolina Wren; Northern Mockingbird; Eastern Bluebird; American Robin; Cedar Waxwing; American Goldfinch; Eastern Towhee; Red-winged Blackbird; Common Grackle; and Northern Cardinal. Gray Catbirds have a long season here, from February through early November, and one or two might be found overwintering in a sheltered spot.
Wintering songbirds include both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets; Red-breasted Nuthatch; Brown Creeper; Winter Wren; Hermit Thrush; Dark-eyed Junco; White-throated Sparrow; and Swamp Sparrow.
Oddly, House Sparrows have only been reported in August and September, and Song Sparrows only from November through April. Pine Siskins have been reported in March and April.
Martinak is fairly good for spring and fall warbler migration, with 21 species reported in migration or staying to breed. Warblers that are confirmed or probably breeding in the park or immediate vicinity include Ovenbird; Prothonotary Warbler; Louisiana Waterthrush; Common Yellowthroat; and Pine Warbler.
The Activity Trail is wheelchair-accessible. There are also wheelchair-accessible restrooms and picnic pavilions. The road network within the park allows for decent birding from the car.
Pets on a leash are allowed in the campground, in two of the cabins, and the day-use areas. Pick up after your pet.
Martinak State Park is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service.
There is a boat ramp and pier and a soft launch for kayaks and canoes. Canoes are available to rent from April through October. ◾ Fishing is permitted; license required. ◾ A nature center offers seasonal programming, including paddling trips and open-air concerts. ◾ The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Maryland Historic Trust have produced a series of water trail maps for the Choptank River and Tuckahoe Creek, available as a free download.
The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Caroline County Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
Designated lots throughout the park; see trail map at link at left.
Martinak State Park is located approximately 34 miles east of the Bay Bridge, just off MD Route 404/MD Route 313, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
From the Bay Bridge: Travel east on US Route 50. At the split for US Route 50 and US Route 301, bear to the right to stay on US Route 50. In approximately 6.9 miles, make a left to go east on MD Route 404. Follow Route 404 approximately 13.9 miles to the town of Denton, where MD Route 313 will join Route 404. The combined Route 404/313 will take you around the east side of Denton in a southerly direction. Approximately 2.5 miles from where MD 313 joined 404, watch for Deep Shore Road and turn right to go west. Follow Deep Shore Road for 0.65 miles to the entrance road for the park, which will be on the left, taking you south directly into the park.
From points south and east on the Eastern Shore (including Easton and Salisbury): Use US Route 50 north and then turn right (east) onto MD Route 404. Follow Route 404 approximately 13.9 miles to the town of Denton, where MD Route 313 will join Route 404. The combined Route 404/313 will take you around the east side of Denton in a southerly direction. Approximately 2.5 miles from where MD 313 joined 404, watch for Deep Shore Road and turn right to go west. Follow Deep Shore Road for 0.65 miles to the entrance road for the park, which will be on the left, taking you south directly into the park.
From points north on the Eastern Shore: Take US Route 301 south, then MD Route 213 south; then take US Route 50 south. Turn left (east) on MD Route 404. Follow Route 404 approximately 13.9 miles to the town of Denton, where MD Route 313 will join Route 404. The combined Route 404/313 will take you around the east side of Denton in a southerly direction. Approximately 2.5 miles from where MD 313 joined 404, watch for Deep Shore Road and turn right to go west. Follow Deep Shore Road for 0.65 miles to the entrance road for the park, which will be on the left, taking you south directly into the park.
Caroline County: Adkins Arboretum ◾ Choptank Marina ◾ Daniel Crouse Memorial Park ◾ Idylwild Wildlife Management Area ◾ Pelot MOS Sanctuary ◾ Skeleton Creek Road & Bethlehem Road ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline County)
Dorchester County: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Cambridge – Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Dorchester County Side) ◾ Cambridge – Great Marsh Park ◾ Cambridge – Oakley Street ◾ Cambridge – Sailwinds Park & Visitor Center ◾ Chesapeake Forest – North Tara Road ◾ Elliott Island Road / Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area (Eastern Section) ◾ Hooper’s Island ◾ Taylor’s Island
Queen Anne’s County: Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center – Horsehead ◾ Conquest Preserve ◾ Ferry Point Park ◾ Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach / Matapeake Fishing Pier & Boat Ramp ◾ Terrapin Nature Park ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Queen Anne’s County) ◾ Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area
Talbot County: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Talbot County Side) ◾ Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Claiborne Landing ◾ Marengo Woods MOS Sanctuary ◾ Mill Creek MOS Sanctuary ◾ Pickering Creek Audubon Center ◾ Poplar Island
Features:BeginnersBirding By CarBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchBoat RentalsCampingFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsNature Education ProgramsOvernight Lodging or CabinsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Chesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkNature CentersState ParksThe Rivers of the Eastern ShoreWater Trails