At a Glance

Hours: Grounds: March 1 – Nov. 30, daily 7 am to sunset; Dec. 1 – Feb. 28, Mon through Fri. 8 am – 4 pm; closed weekends & holidays. Nature Center: Apr 1 – Oct 31, Wed – Sat 11 am – 5 pm; Sun 12 noon – 5 pm; CLOSED Mon & Tues. Also closed from Nov 1 – Mar 31.

Cost: County resident: $5/vehicle; out-of-county resident: $10/vehicle; 62 and older: free (regardless of residency); season passes available: $50 for county resident; $75 for out-of-county resident.

Tips: Visit on weekdays to avoid crowds in summer. ◾ Some trails may be wet; boots are recommended. ◾ No scooters, rollerblades, or skateboards are allowed in the park.

Best Seasons: Fall, winter, spring.

Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Finksburg SW

Local MOS Chapter: Carroll County Bird Club

Piney Run Park and Nature Center

30 Martz Road, Sykesville, MD 21784
(410) 795-5165

Piney Run Park and Nature Center, located near Sykesville, are operated by the Carroll County Department of Parks and Recreation. The park has 550 acres of fields, forest and open spaces, with over five miles of hiking trails, a 300-acre lake, and recreational facilities. Piney Run is the #1 eBird hotspot in Carroll County, with over 240 species reported.

Prior to being a park, this land was a private farm. The park provides fishing, boating, boat rentals, park-sponsored fishing tournaments, tennis courts, playgrounds, a climbing rock, picnic tables and pavilions, and comfort stations. Much of the park acreage remains in a natural state, with dense woodlands traversed by small streams and some open fields. A well-developed trail system enables birders to access all areas of the park.

The Piney Run Nature Center was completed in 1981 and is staffed by Park Naturalists and volunteers. It offers programs throughout the year for a variety of school, youth, and community organizations. Birthday parties, summer camp, conservation programs, wildlife exhibits, and specialized classes are available to the public. Along with exhibits, there is a children’s room for exploration and learning.


Over 240 species have been reported on eBird from Piney Run Park, making it the #1 eBird hotspot in Carroll County. On the lake, water birds abound in winter, especially Tundra Swan, Wood, American Black, Ring-necked, and Ruddy Ducks,  Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Lesser and Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser and Common Merganser. There are also Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, Double-breasted Cormorant, and American Coot. The common gulls and terns abound, with occasional rarities. Fish Crows can also be heard. In warm seasons, there are swallows, including Northern Rough-winged, Tree, Bank, Barn and Cliff.

In the woods and fields look for owls, including Eastern Screech, Great Horned, Barred, and Long-eared (uncommon, winter only). All the local woodpeckers can be found, as can many flycatchers—Eastern Wood-Peewee, Eastern Phoebe, and Great Crested, Acadian and Willow. In spring and fall, migrations bring a wide assortment of warblers. Rusty Blackbirds, which have been experiencing precipitous population declines, may be found in wet areas in late spring and fall. Some winters bring White-winged Crossbill, Common Redpoll, Evening Grosbeak, and Pine Siskin. Regularly occurring sparrows include American Tree, Chipping, Field, Fox, White-crowned, White-throated, Savannah, Song and Swamp. Other species include Bobolink, Golden- and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Blue Jays, Eastern Kingbird, and White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos, as well as a selection of herons and egrets in the warm months.


Paved lots throughout developed areas of the park.

Special Features:

Piney Run Nature Center offers a myriad of programs, hikes, kayak tours, bird walks, fishing tournaments, and festivals throughout the year. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Carroll County Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.


A video tour of the park is available at


From Baltimore: From I-695/Baltimore Beltway, take Exit 18 for MD Route 26/Liberty Road westbound. Follow Liberty Road past Liberty Reservoir and continue through Eldersburg. Go straight through the intersection of Liberty Road and MD Route 32/Sykesville Road. Continue on Liberty Road for approximately 3 more miles and then turn left (south) onto White Rock Road. Go 1.8 miles and turn left (east) onto Martz Road, and continue straight ahead to the park entrance.

From Frederick: Take I-70 east for about 22 miles to Exit 26 for MD Route 97/Hoods Mill Road northbound. Continue north for 4.8 miles on MD Route 97, which will become Old Washington Road. Turn right (east) onto West Obrecht Road and go approximately 0.8 mile to White Rock Road. Turn left (north) onto White Rock Road, and in 0.7 miles turn right (east) onto Martz Road. Continue straight ahead to the park entrance.

Nearby Sites:

Hashawha Environmental Center/Bear Branch Nature Center, Liberty Reservoir  CWMA – Bollinger Mill Road, Morgan Run Natural Environmental Area


Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirRivers & Streams


BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Bird Feeding StationBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchBoat RentalsFishingHiking/Walking TrailsNature Education ProgramsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWater ViewWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families


#1 Hotspot in County or CityCommunity and Urban ParksNature CentersPonds, Lakes, and Reservoirs