At a Glance
Hours: Sunrise to sunset for the beach. Fishing pier and boat ramp open 24 hours a day.
Cost: Free for the beach and clubhouse area; $10 per day fee for the fishing pier and boat ramp area.
Tips: Bring a scope. ◾ Try to visit early on weekday mornings to avoid crowds in summer. ◾ A food concession is available during the summer. ◾ Seasonal restrooms are at the beach area; there is also a portable restroom in the parking area for the beach; year-round restrooms are at the fishing pier & boat launch (fee area).
Best Seasons: Winter. Spring and fall are also of interest.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Kent Island CW
Matapeake Clubhouse & Beach – Matapeake Fishing Pier & Boat Ramp
2010 Sonny Shultz Boulevard, Stevensville, MD 21666
1112 Romancoke Road, Stevensville, MD 21666
Matapeake Clubhouse and Beach and the adjoining Matapeake Fishing Pier and Boat Ramp are two postage-stamp-sized parks (about 12 acres and 3 acres, respectively) managed by the Queen Anne’s County Parks and Recreation Department. The reason for birders to visit is that both afford fantastic views of the Chesapeake Bay and the adjoining woods and scrubby fields hold a good assortment of land birds. The land here is divided into a number of parcels, some owned by the state, some by the county, and some by commercial businesses. The Maryland Marine Police Academy is between the Clubhouse and Beach area and the Fishing Pier/Boat Ramp. There are separate parking areas for the Clubhouse/Beach and the Fishing Pier/Boat Ramp. There is no admission fee for the Clubhouse and Beach but the Fishing Pier and Boat Ramp charges a $10 daily entry and parking fee.Although the map of the area gives the impression of a lot of development in and near the park, the place itself is surprisingly pleasant and peaceful in the off-season.
The sandy public beach makes a good location from which to scan the Bay, and offers a view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge a short distance to the north. Be sure to approach the beach slowly during shorebird migration season in order to avoid flushing any shorebirds that might be there. Tall pines surround the park on two sides and there are short foot trails through the wooded areas. There are scrubby fields near some of the commercial areas and these should be checked for landbirds, especially the large field adjacent to the start of the South Island Bike Trail.
Matapeake is an excellent place to look for waterfowl in winter. All three scoters are seen here annually, with White-winged Scoter being the least common of the three. Large rafts of Buffleheads can be seen along with smaller numbers of Long-tailed Ducks and Common Goldeneyes. The rock jetties may host roosting gull flocks, and during the fall, large numbers of terns can occasionally be seen. The major draw of the area is that in breeding season, Chuck’s-will-widows can be heard calling from the parking lot near dusk.
Note that an older name for this location is Matapeake State Park, and it is still shown this way on most maps, even though it is now operated by the county. Indeed, the eBird hotspot for this location is labeled as such.
Beginning in 1930, the site was a dock for ferries running between Annapolis and Matapeake. The ferry was one of the main links between the eastern and western shores of the Bay prior to the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952. The Clubhouse was built in 1936 to serve as a place to have a meal or get a drink while waiting to board the ferry. The ferry, dock, and Clubhouse came under State of Maryland ownership in 1941. After the Bay Bridge opened and the ferry became unnecessary, the MD Department of Natural Resources began using the Clubhouse as a training facility, but eventually abandoned it. Queen Anne’s County renovated the facility and opened the Clubhouse and Beach to the public in 2009.
Over 170 bird species have been reported on eBird from Matapeake. The highlight is the winter selection of waterfowl, 22 species in all, including diving bay ducks such as Canvasback, Redhead, and scaup. Unusual terns and gulls are a possibility in the fall. Breeding Chucks-wills-widow are regular and can be heard in the woods at the landing/fishing pier from April through June. Pine Warblers sing from the woodlots and may overwinter here. This is probably the best public location in Queen Anne’s County to try for Sanderlings, which can be present on the beach from September through November.
Paved lots – see trail map at link at left for locations.
The South Island Bike Trail (free) and the Fishing Pier (daily fee) are wheelchair accessible. The public beach and the Clubhouse are not wheelchair-accessible, nor are the foot-trails. ◾ See https://www.qac.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/Matapeake-Fishing-Pier-and-Ramp-127 for more information about Matapeake Fishing Pier and Boat Ramp, including daily fees and operating hours. Note that canoes and kayaks can be launched there (included in the $10 entry fee). ◾ Part of the beach is set aside for dogs; it is reached via a foot-trail behind the Clubhouseand that trail makes for good birding, too. ◾ There are a few picnic benches at both the beach area (free) and the Fishing Pier area (fee for use). ◾ A food concession operates in the Clubhouse during the summer. ◾ The South Island Bike Trail starts at a large paved parking area south of the Clubhouse area (see map at link at left). This parking area provides an additional place to park if the small lot near the Clubhouse is full. ◾ The Clubhouse is available for event rentals in the off-season. • There is no chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society centered in Queen Anne’s County, so local birders may be members of chapters in adjoining counties: the Kent County Bird Club, the Caroline County Bird Club, or the Talbot Bird Club, all of which offer field trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
To reach the Clubhouse and Beach from US Route 50: Just east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Kent Island, take Exit 37 for MD Route 8 and Romancoke/Stevensville. Make a right to go south on Romancoke Road/MD Route 8. Proceed south for approximately 2.3 miles and then turn right (west) onto Sonny Shultz Boulevard. After passing a fitness gym on the left and as you approach a cluster of buildings straight ahead, follow signs and bear right into the Clubhouse parking area, near a tall communications tower. If that lot is full, additional parking is available at the overflow lot to the south – see below.
To reach the Overflow Parking and South Island Bike Trail from the Clubhouse and Beach: Return from the beach parking area to Sonny Shultz Boulevard and just past the fitness gym, turn right to go south on an unnamed drive, by a sign for the South Island Bike Trail. The parking area will be on the right.
To reach the Fishing Pier and Boat Ramp: Continue past the Overflow Parking/South Island Bike Trail Parking to a T-intersection at Marine Academy Drive and turn right (west). Follow signs and bear left into the paved parking area for the Fishing Pier and Boat Launch. Note that there is a daily $10 fee for the Boat Launch and Fishing Pier and all vehicles parked in that lot must display a paid parking receipt.
Queen Anne’s County: Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center – Horsehead ◾ Conquest Preserve ◾ Ferry Point Park ◾ Terrapin Nature Park ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Queen Anne’s County) ◾ Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area
Kent County: Buckingham Public Landing & Morgnec Road Public Landing ◾ Chesapeake Farms & St. Paul’s Millpond ◾ Chestertown: Wilmer Park, Wayne Gilchrest Trail, & Chestertown WWTP ◾ Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge ◾ Millington Wildlife Management Area ◾ Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area & Turner’s Creek Park
Caroline County: Adkins Arboretum ◾ Choptank Marina ◾ Daniel Crouse Memorial Park ◾ Idylwild Wildlife Management Area ◾ Martinak State Park ◾ Skeleton Creek Road & Bethlehem Road ◾ Tuckahoe State Park (Caroline County)
Talbot County: Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park (Talbot County Side) ◾ Black Walnut Point Natural Resources Management Area ◾ Claiborne Landing ◾ Mill Creek MOS Sanctuary ◾ Pickering Creek Audubon Center ◾ Poplar Island
Features:BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Boat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsSnack Bar, Camp Store, Food ConcessionsSwimmingWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Chesapeake Bay Eastern ShoreCommunity and Urban ParksDriving Tour (Roadside Birding)Hiker-Biker Trails (Paved)Water Trails