Milltown Landing Natural Resources Management Area
17700 Milltown Landing Rd, Brandywine, MD 20613
Milltown Landing Natural Resources Management Area (NRMA), operated by Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is one of several state properties along the western bank of the Patuxent River in southern Prince George’s County. Like other NRMAs across the state, Milltown Landing features an undeveloped, agrarian landscape with a mix of woodlands, fields, and croplands and is managed for the primary benefit of wildlife habitat, sustainable farming, and passive, nature-based recreation. There is no website that describes Milltown Landing, but DNR has a detailed trail map at the link at left.
A tobacco farm during colonial times and up until the 1960s, the 319 acres at Milltown Landing are still managed as a farm under lease to a local farmer. First-time visitors in spring may at first be disappointed by the apparent lack of habitat, since planted fields of soybeans or corn usually predominate the acreage, but the hedgerows and shrubby areas are often thick with migrant songbirds, and the Patuxent River hosts migrating waterfowl. It is an easy walk of about half a mile all the way to the river from the parking area, following the continuation of Milltown Landing Road past the locked gate, where it becomes a gravel and dirt lane that passes some picturesque old tobacco barns on the way to the river. The remnants of an old dock can be seen at the riverfront; like other spots up and down the Patuxent, Milltown Landing was once a working wharf where tobacco was shipped to market.
Be sure to walk the trail leading north from the main lane, a little past the private residence near the parking area. The trail goes through shrubby habitat and is great for migrant warblers in spring and fall. Sometimes, Eastern Screech-Owls may be heard near dusk and dawn.
There are also farm lanes that loop south into the agricultural fields, including one that encircles a wetland (see trail map at link at left). These trails through the fields can be productive in late fall and winter (but be sure to avoid hunting seasons).
Over 165 species have been reported on eBird from Milltown Landing.
During fall migration and winter, the hedgerows can harbor a diversity of sparrows, including White-crowned, Vesper, American Tree, and Savannah. This is one of the best spots in the county for the fall warbler migration. The marshy areas near the river can hold rails and shorebirds, so be alert.
From fall through spring, be sure to check the river for waterfowl. In summer, there may be terns hunting over the water; Forster’s and Caspian are typical but occasionally a Royal Tern shows up.
An active Great Blue Heron colony has occupied the marshy area on the south side of the NRMA. Short-eared Owls may hunt the fields in late fall/winter; Barn Owls may fly out of the old barns.
Go to the end of Milltown Landing Road, bearing right down a grassy lane before a locked gate near a private residence. Park in the grassy area by the signboard.
Milltown Landing NRMA is one of the sites on the 80-mile-long Patuxent Water Trail. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Patuxent Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
From US Route 301 at MD Route 4 near Upper Marlboro: Proceed south about 4 miles and turn left (east) onto MD Route 382/Croom Rd at the traffic light. Continue south on Croom Road for about 14 miles, past Candy Hill Road, River Airport Road, and White’s Ferry Road, then turn left (east) onto Milltown Landing Road. Proceed to the end of the road, disregarding the “No Trespassing” signs. However, there are private residences near the NRMA gate, so stay on the road and be respectful of private property. Bear to the right before the locked gate into the grassy parking area.
Prince George’s County: Merkle Natural Resources Management Area, Patuxent River Park – Jug Bay Natural Area, Patuxent River Park – Mount Calvert Historical & Archaeological Park, Schoolhouse Pond
Anne Arundel County: Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
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 and Museum, Kings Landing Park & Huntingtown Natural Resources Management Area
Charles County: Indian Creek Natural Resources Management Area
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams
FishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsParkingPets AllowedWater View
Hunting AreasThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails