At a Glance
- April 1 – April 30: 8 am – 7 pm
- May 1 – August 31: 8 am – 8 pm; during busy periods in the summer, the park may fill to capacity and additional cars will be turned away.
- September 1 – September 31: 8 am – 7 pm
- October 1 – October 31: 8 am – 5 pm
- November 1 – November 30: 8 am – 4 pm
- December 1 – March 31: 8 am – 4 pm. The park is closed to vehicles from December 1 – March 31, walk-in only.
- Free any day from Labor Day through early May.
- Free on non-holiday weekdays from May through Labor Day.
- Entry fee on weekends and holidays from the first Saturday in May through Labor Day: $7 per vehicle for county residents; $25 per vehicle for non-county residents. CASH ONLY. Or use seasonal Myrtle Point Parks pass, $25 county resident, $100 non-county resident. Passes also available as bundle with other county waterfront parks.
Tips: Bring a scope if you plan to walk to the water views. ■ Wear sturdy waterproof hiking boots or shoes. A hiking staff would be helpful for steep slopes. ■ The park is used for deer (archery only) and waterfowl hunting. Be aware of hunting seasons and plan your visit accordingly. Visit only on Sundays during deer archery season. ■ Portable restrooms at both parking areas.
Prohibited: Use of tobacco or vape products.
Best Seasons: The birds are great year-round, but the beach-going crowds are problematic during the summer. In summer, visit on weekdays and arrive early when the park first opens.
Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Four atlas blocks come together in the park. The public eBird hotspot for Myrtle Point Park is in Solomons Island CW. For atlasing in the three other blocks, set up personal locations.
- Solomons Island NW – A large portion of the park north of the water tower, including most of the northeast beach that extends along the Patuxent River, the pine grove, Red Oak Pond, and a slice of beach on the shore of Mill Creek adjacent to Red Oak Pond.
- Solomons Island CW – A large portion of the park south of the water tower, including the entrance road, the parking areas, the main trailhead, the picnic area and canoe launch on the Patuxent River, Thomas Point and the beach and marsh there. This block contains.
- Hollywood NE – The northwest corner of the park, including the tip of the North Point peninsula and a slice of beach and marsh near the picnic area on Mill Creek, at the west end of Mill Creek Lane.
- Hollywood CE – The southwest corner of the park south of Mill Creek Lane, including the shoreline along Sam Abell Cove.
Myrtle Point Park
24050 Patuxent Boulevard, California, MD 20619
(301) 475-4200, ext. 1800
[Note: Do not confuse this site, Myrtle Point Park in St. Mary’s County, with the similarly named Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management Area, which is in Charles County.]
Myrtle Point Park occupies 193 acres on a northward-facing peninsula just a short distance upstream from where the wide estuary of the Patuxent River joins the Chesapeake Bay. The peninsula is bounded by the Patuxent River on the north and east, Mill Creek or Cuckold Creek on the west, and Sam Abell Cove on the southwest. The park, which is owned by St. Mary’s County, is known for its spectacular water views, sandy beaches, and for its lush woodlands and marshes.
Most of Myrtle Point Park consists of second-growth deciduous woodland, but there are also some mature trees, and there is a planted pine grove – a beloved feature of the park – that occupies a rectangular block of about 6 acres northeast of the water tower, a handy landmark in the middle of the park. Despite the fact that many invasive exotics have taken hold, the woodlands support a good assortment of Forest Interior Dwelling Species. Much of the shoreline has sandy beaches, which may disappear at high tide, but there are also brackish marshes, including a large marsh at Thomas Point on the east side of the park. There are three ponds – Red Oak Pond, Kingfisher Pond, and North Point Pond – adjacent to the shoreline. There are also some scattered wide grassy areas.
Myrtle Point Park has an extensive trail system that enables birders to explore the whole peninsula. The peninsula has been occupied by humans for thousands of years, beginning with Native American encampments and continuing with European settlers and twentieth-century farmsteads and estates. The current park is dotted with evidence of these earlier activities, including the old water tower, barns, building foundations, and many old farm roads that today are wide, level two-track lanes that anchor the park’s trail network.
The major trails have been given names (see trail map links at left) and are signposted. The woodland trails are narrow natural surface trails and may be wet or muddy and have exposed roots and rocks. There are some steep sections, especially near bluffs that overlook the beaches.
It is possible to make a circuit of the entire park by using Mill Creek Lane, the Deep Woods Trail, Berry Lane, and the Wet Sox Trail; this route is marked in yellow as the Perimeter Hike on the simple trail map available at left, which is an image of the trail map posted on the kiosk at the park. The resulting circuit will be about 2.3 miles in length; note that if the tide is in, some wading along the shoreline might be necessary on the Wet Sox Trail. Lengths of individual trails are given on the simple trail map, so you can pick a hike of shorter length, if you prefer.
There is a shady picnic grove on the east side of the park, near the entrance, and a soft launch for canoes and kayaks is located just beyond the picnic area, at Ghost Beach. Another picnic spot is located at the Thomas Point Beach, and a third is on the opposite side of the park, at the northwest end of Mill Creek Lane. See the simple trail maps for the locations of the various points and other landmarks.
At the links at left, we provide three different maps that show varying levels of detail on Myrtle Point Park’s trail system. The simplest map is a photograph of the map at the park’s kiosk, and it shows the color-coded trails on a plain background. The map in the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust’s brochure is more detailed, and provides labels for many of the park’s landmarks, all on a satellite image background. Note that this map is oriented with true north at the upper left corner. Finally, the hunting area map provided by the MD Department of Natural Resources shows the trails and land topography, but few other details; the main benefit of the hunting area map is that it is geolocator enabled, which means that you can load it into a smartphone GPS app, such as the free Avenza app, and use it to navigate around the park, as the map on your smartphone will show your actual location and track your movements.
All of the beauty of Myrtle Point Park was almost lost. In the 1980s and 1990s, the area now occupied by the park was targeted for a succession of development projects, including a golf course and residential development. Local citizens fought tirelessly over many years to protect the park from development, and were successful in gaining re-zoning and in convincing St. Mary’s County to buy the land for a public park. The fight didn’t stop there – the Friends of Myrtle Point Park, members of the Southern Maryland Group of the Maryland Sierra Club, and the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust have been vigilant that the county maintains Myrtle Point as a nature park for passive recreation. The members of these organizations also contribute to the ongoing upkeep of the park by removing invasive plants, maintaining trails, sponsoring educational programs, and more.
Over 150 species have been reported from the eBird hotspot at Myrtle Point Park. Note that some birds that might be expected as breeders seldom show up in eBird reports during the June and July peak breeding season. This is likely an artifact of the fact that few birders visit the park during the busy summer beach-going season at the park.
Year-round species (essentially all are breeders): Canada Goose, Mallard (may be absent at times) Mourning Dove, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull (the three gulls may be absent in summer), Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron (except in the depths of deep cold winters), Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldred Hawk (maybe hard to find in summer), Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker (may be absent at times), Blue Jay, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing (may be absent in late summer/early fall), American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal.
Winter species, including some that may be present over a longer period from fall through spring: Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Duck, Horned Grebe, Killdeer, Bonaparte’s Gull, Common Loon, Great Cormorant, Brown Pelican (rare), Red-tailed Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch (not annual), Winter Wren, European Starling, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, House Finch, Purple Finch (rare), Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Summer/breeding season species, including some that may be present from spring through fall; essentially all are breeders: Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Laughing Gull, Green Heron, Osprey, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Fish Crow, Barn Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Chipping Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Common Grackle, Common Yellowthroat, Pine Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Indigo Bunting.
Spring and/or fall migrants: Canvasback, Lesser Scaup, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Spotted Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Forster’s Tern, Royal Tern, Red-throated Loon, Northern Gannet, Great Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Cooper’s Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-throated Vireo, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Brown Creeper, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Wood Thrush, Grasshopper Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Hooded Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Blue Grosbeak.
Sporadic: Hooded Merganser, Rock Pigeon, Great Horned Owl, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren.
Some of the wide, level old farm roads may be accessible to a wheelchair, although there may be puddles and rough spots and it would be a bumpy ride. At least one of the portable restrooms at the two parking areas is wheelchair-accessible. The canoe/kayak sot launch is not wheelchair-accessible.
Pets are allowed on leash; be prepared to pick up after your pet.
Myrtle Point Park lies within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, a zone set aside for limited development and for initiatives to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s Critical Area Law has three goals: to minimize adverse impacts on water quality from stormwater runoff; conserve fish, wildlife, and plant habitat; and establish land use policies to accommodate growth, while recognizing that human activities in the Critical Area can create adverse environmental impacts.
The North Point section of Myrtle Point Park contains an area designated by the State of Maryland as a Sensitive Species Project Review Area; this means that any planned construction or projects receive an extra layer of review to ensure that certain plants and animals that may be present are adequately protected.
Myrtle Point Park is part of the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail passes by Myrtle Point Park on its way up the Patuxent River, and the park is a launch site for the Patuxent Water Trail. ■ For information on the canoe and kayak launch soft launch on Ghost Beach near the main picnic area, see MD DNR’s interactive Public Water Access Map. ■ Other visitor amenities and activities include a large picnic area with grills and scattered picnic tables at two additional waterfront locations; swimming (no lifeguard); fishing and crabbing; deer hunting (archery only); and geocaching.
The non-profit Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust is engaged in ongoing stewardship of Myrtle Point Park, and has expanded their role in land preservation by arranging for conservation easements on private land. Donations are always appreciated, and volunteers are welcome. The former Friends of Myrtle Point organization has been absorbed by the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust.
The Southern Maryland Group within the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club is another organization that sponsors outings and stewardship activities at Myrtle Point Park, including cleanups, control of invasive plants, and so forth.
There is no chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society in St. Mary’s 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 Maryland Audubon Society serves birders in Charles, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and Prince George’s Counties.
Episode 3401 of Outdoors Maryland, a presentation of Maryland Public Television, features a segment on a program to protect terrapin turtles – the Maryland State Reptile – at Patuxent Naval Air Station, just downstream from Myrtle Point Park in St. Mary’s County. Patuxent NAS is not open to the public, but occasionally an escorted birding tours may be offered through one of the local clubs. Check the online MOS Calendar for any upcoming opportunities.
Hard-packed gravel lots at the entrance and at the main picnic area.
From points north in Prince George’s County or west in Charles County: Take US Route 301 south to MD Route 5/Mattawoman-Beantown Road and turn south onto MD Route 5. In 3.2 miles, MD Route 5 makes a left to go south on Leonardtown Road. Follow Leonardtown Road for 18 miles and continue straight ahead onto MD Route 235/Three Notch Road toward Hollywood. In 14.0 miles, turn left (east) onto MD Route 4/Patuxent Beach Road and travel just ¾ of a mile. Make a left to head north on Patuxent Boulevard, which will bring you into the park in 1.45 miles.
From points north in Anne Arundel or Calvert Counties: Take MD Route 4 south to Solomon’s Island. Continue on MD Route 4 on the Solomon’s Island Bridge over the Patuxent River. At the first traffic light after the bridge, turn right (north) onto MD 235/Three Notch Road and go 3.2 miles. Make a right to go north on Patuxent Boulevard, which will bring you into the park in 1.45 miles.
From the Washington, DC area: From the DC Beltway (I-495), take Exit 7 to go south on MD Route 5/Branch Avenue. Follow signs to continue on MD Route 5 where it joins with US Route 301 south, and then make a left where MD Route 5 splits from US Route 301, to follow Mattawoman-Beantown Road. In 3.2 miles, MD Route 5 makes another left to go south on Leonardtown Road. Follow Leonardtown Road for 18 miles and continue straight ahead onto MD Route 235/Three Notch Road toward Hollywood. In 14.0 miles, turn left (east) onto MD Route 4/Patuxent Beach Road and travel just ¾ of a mile. Make a left to head north on Patuxent Boulevard, which will bring you into the park in 1.45 miles.
From the Baltimore area: From the Baltimore Beltway (I-695), take Exit 4 for I-97 southbound. Follow I-97 for 9.8 miles to Exit 7. Take Exit 7 onto MD Route 3 southbound. In 9.7 miles, Route 3/Crain Highway will pass under US Route 50 and at that point, the route number changes to US Route 301 (still Crain Highway). Continue south on Route 301 for another 24 miles and then turn left to go south on MD Route 5/Mattawoman-Beantown Road and turn south. In 3.2 miles, MD Route 5 makes another left to go south on Leonardtown Road. Follow Leonardtown Road for 18 miles and continue straight ahead onto MD Route 235/Three Notch Road toward Hollywood. In 14.0 miles, turn left (east) onto MD Route 4/Patuxent Beach Road and travel just ¾ of a mile. Make a left to head north on Patuxent Boulevard, which will bring you into the park in 1.45 miles.
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.
From Western Maryland: Use I-70 eastbound and then I-270 south to reach the DC Beltway. Then follow directions as given above for the Washington, Dc area.
Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Sandy Beach or Dunes Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Open Ocean, Bay, or EstuaryRivers & StreamsSalt or Brackish Marsh
Features and Amenities:BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Boat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry Fee on Some Days or Parts of YearHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaRestroomsSwimmingWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Chesapeake Bay Western ShoreCounty ParksThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails