At a Glance

Hours: Grounds open dawn to dusk, daily. Visitor Center: Mar 1 – Nov 30, Tues – Sun 10 am-4 pm; Dec 1 – Feb 28, 10 am-4 pm on weekends only. Historic Farm: Mar 1 – Nov 30, Tues – Sun, 10 am-4 pm; Dec 1 – Feb 28: Closed.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Visitors Center at Colonial Farm; port-a-potty at Boardwalk. Bring a scope for winter waterfowl viewing and for terns in summer.

Best Seasons: All except mid-summer. Late fall has been especially good for accidentals.

Local MOS Chapters: Patuxent Bird Club

Piscataway (National) Park, National Colonial Farm, & Wharf Road

National Colonial Farm – 3400 Bryan Point Rd., Accokeek, MD 20607
Boardwalk – 2800 Bryan Point Rd., Accokeek, MD 20607
Fishing Area – 14100 Wharf Rd., Accokeek, MD 20607
(301) 283-2113

Piscataway (National) Park, a facility of the National Park Service, lies along three miles of the Potomac River and its tributary, Piscataway Creek, in southern Prince George’s County, covering ~ 750 acres. Although the official name is simply Piscataway Park, we have included National in the title on this description to distinguish it from the nearby Piscataway MOS Sanctuary.

Piscataway Park is accessed at three separate entrances: on the west end at National Colonial Farm (a re-created colonial-era farm); at the parking lot for the boardwalk along the Potomac shore; and at the end of Wharf Road where a fishing area  at Farmington Landing provides the view across the sheltered Piscataway Creek. This is probably the best site in Prince George’s County for winter waterfowl. Here the Potomac River runs east to west, so views across are in favorable light, although the river is fully one mile wide and a scope is essential. (Listers may note that the entire river up to the Virginia shore lies within Maryland).

Many birders choose to visit Wharf Road first.  Use your scope to scan the water for waterfowl and gulls in winter and terns in summer.  In spring and fall, walk back on Wharf Road from the fishing area to check the woodlands and brushy areas, which are very good for migrant passerines.

Next stop will be the Boardwalk area, on the north side of Bryan Point Road; look for a gravel lane on the right (north) side of the road, at a break in a post-and-rail fence.  Drive down the lane to a parking area (port-a-potty available), checking fields and second-growth woodlands as you go. Prairie Warblers breed here.  After parking your car, proceed onto the gravel foot-trail which will soon bring you to a wooden boardwalk along the shore of the Potomac and adjacent to a marsh on the inland side. The boardwalk is about 0.2 miles long, and beyond the boardwalk, a natural-surfaced trail continues along the shore of the Potomac, all the way to Mockley Point at the mouth of Piscataway Creek, another 3/4 of a mile. The marsh may hold rails and other wetland birds; the wooded borders of the boardwalk and trail are good for migrant passerines.  Red-headed Woodpeckers breed near the marsh. A couple of small side trails extend south near the marsh and near the parking lot.

The final stop is at the National Colonial Farm, where you may want to walk the short trail from the parking lot past the Visitor Center to access the fishing pier that extends well into the river.  There is a fine network of trails along the shore and throughout the Colonial Farm; the woodlands and brushy areas are good for migrants in spring and fall. The grass pastures hold breeding Grasshopper Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks in spring and summer.  Do not enter any of the fenced fields or farm animal enclosures.  There are restrooms at the Visitor Center.

Birdlife:

There are separate eBird hotspots for the different areas within Piscataway Park. Over 215 species have been reported from the Boardwalk area at Piscataway Park (https://ebird.org/hotspot/L810307); over 170 from National Colonial Farm (https://ebird.org/hotspot/L452866) and over 145 from Wharf Road (https://ebird.org/hotspot/L633291). Winter waterfowl include both dabbling and diving ducks, swans, loons, and grebes. Wharf Road itself offers good passerine birding during spring and fall migration. Breeding birds include Eastern Screech-Owl along Wharf Road and Red-headed Woodpecker along a side trail from the boardwalk, leading into wet woodland habitat. Grassland birds may occur along the entrance roads to Colonial Farm and the Boardwalk. Many rarities have been reported from the Boardwalk area.

Parking:

Ample paved parking, almost the entire length of the Waterfront Park.

Special Features:

The outdoor exhibits at the National Colonial Farm are great for families with children. ◾ Looking across the Potomac, Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate, is a prominent landmark on the opposite shore. In fact, the entire national park area at Piscataway was acquired specifically to protect the viewshed from Mount Vernon. Even private inholdings at Piscataway are under easement to prevent development. ◾ Piscataway Park is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ 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.

Directions:

From the D.C. area: Take the Capital Beltway (I-295 or I-495) going south. Take Exit 3 to Indian Head Highway (MD Route 210 South), and go approximately 9.2 miles. After you pass Farmington Road, you will make a right at the next stop light to go west on Livingston Road (look for B&J Carryout). Drive one block and turn right on Biddle Road. Go another block and turn left on Bryan Point Road. ◾ For Wharf Road, turn right from Bryan Point Road onto Farmington Road and then a sharp left to go north onto Wharf Road. Follow Wharf Road to the fishing area at the end. For the Boardwalk: return to Bryan Point Road and turn right to go northwest. Stay on Bryan Point Road and pass Hard Bargain Farm (no public access) on the right, and its wetland boardwalk on the left, at an S-curve. The next lane on the right leads to the Boardwalk parking area. ◾ For National Colonial Farm: Return to Bryan Point Road and turn right to go west. Turn right at the signed entrance for Piscataway Park and the National Colonial Farm. Bear right to the Visitor Parking Area.

Directions from Waldorf and other points south: take US Route 301/Crain Highway and turn onto MD Route 228/Berry Road westbound. Proceed on Berry Road for 7 miles to a T-intersection at MD Route 210/Indian Head Highway. Turn right (north) onto Indian Head highway and move into the far left lane. Take the next left turn onto Livingston Road (look for B&J Carryout). Proceed as above for Wharf Road, Boardwalk, and National Colonial Farm.

Nearby Sites:

Fort Washington Park; Fort Foote Park; Oxon Cove Park & Oxon Hill Farm.

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Farmyard Agricultural Crop Fields or Fallow FieldsOld Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirJetties & SeawallsMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams

Features:

BeginnersBoardwalkBoat or Canoe/Kayak LaunchFishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesLake, Pond, Bay, River, OceanNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedRestroomsVisitor Center, Interpretive Displays, ExhibitsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Chesapeake Bay Gateways NetworkHistorical SitesNational Parks & MonumentsThe Rivers of the Western ShoreWater Trails