At a Glance

Hours: 7 am to dusk, or as posted; may be open later when games are played under the lights.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Smoking is not allowed in any Howard County park. ◾ Avoid weekends and summer evenings when athletic games are scheduled; the park is very noisy and busy at these times.

Best Seasons: Spring, early summer, fall.

Local MOS Chapter: Howard County Bird Club

Rockburn Branch Park

West Section Entrance – 6105 Rockburn Branch Park Road, Elkridge, MD 21075
East Section Entrance – 5400 Landing Road, Elkridge, MD 21075
(410) 313-4700

Rockburn Branch Park is a 415-acre county-owned park in eastern Howard County. The park has both natural areas and developed areas with athletic facilities. There are two sections, east and west, accessed from Landing Road and from Rockburn Branch Park Road off Montgomery Road, respectively.

The park has over 9 miles of foot-trails that go through scrubby areas, mature deciduous and coniferous woods, grassy sections, and streamside vegetation. The wide-open spaces offer good views of the sky for migrating raptors and passerines. There is a limited amount of floodplain in the stream valley of Rockburn Branch. The easternmost section, where native pines still exist, are most reminiscent of Coastal Plain locations, while the westernmost section’s rolling topography is more like that of the Piedmont.

Lighted ball diamonds and artificial turf fields are in the east area; the county’s only disc golf course is in the west area, as are a few historic buildings. See also the Howard County Bird Club’s “Birding Howard County” website for more detail on this park.

Birdlife:

Over 165 species have been reported on eBird from Rockburn Branch Park. Woodland birds predominate in the east area because the trails tend to be through mostly mature deciduous or pine woods. The west area has much more scrub and second-growth, with smaller amounts of mature deciduous trees, so edge species predominate; the view of the sky is better in this section. A wooded stream valley runs through the park, so there is riparian habitat, but there are no ponds or other standing water that would attract significant numbers of water birds.

The park shines in its selection of woodland birds, including thrushes, flycatchers, vireos, woodpeckers, and especially warblers, of which 34 species have been reported. The scrubby, grassy, and edge areas are good for sparrows, with 14 species reported. Specialties include American Woodcocks performing breeding displays in early March, and flyovers of Common Nighthawks during spring and fall migration.

Parking:

Paved lots; see trail map at link at left.

Special Features:

For those who use a wheelchair or walker, there is a short paved path in the west area, heading west downhill from the parking lot near the Clover Hill mansion. Along the front of the mansion and extending north there is a wide crushed gravel road. Both paths contain gentle grades. ◾ Several historic buildings in the west area are a feature of this park: the Clover Hill mansion dating to the early 1800s; the Pfeiffer’s Corner School: the Doyle farmhouse and springhouse: and the cabin. ◾ In addition to the usual ballfields, tennis and basketball courts, playground and picnic areas, Rockburn Branch Park has an 18-Hole Disc Golf Course (the only one in the county) and a bike skills course. ◾ A seasonal list of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, and herps iat Rockburn Branch Park s available at https://howardbirds.website/birding/birding-howard-county-md/site-guides/rockburn-branch-park/rockburn-branch-park-species-lists/, courtesy of the Howard County Bird Club. ◾ The Howard County Bird Club, a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, holds bird walks at Rockburn Branch Park and other sites in the county; such walks are free and open to the public. See the Howard County Bird Club’s calendar for more information. ◾ The Howard County Bird Club has a detailed online guide, “Birding Howard County,” on their website at https://howardbirds.website/birding/birding-howard-county-md/site-guides/. Edited by Joanne Solem, the online guide replaces an older printed guide, now out-of-print. The website is up-to-date and extremely detailed. Check it out!

Directions:

From I-95, I-295, or I-97: Take the exit for MD Route 100 westbound toward Ellicott City. From Route 100, take Exit 4 onto MD Route 103, Meadowridge Road, heading north. Go north on Route 103/Meadowridge Road for 0.4 miles, then turn right to go east on Montgomery Road. Go about 0.6 miles on Montgomery Road, then turn left to go north on Rockburn Branch Park Road, which is the entrance to the West Area of the park. Park in any of the paved lots.

To reach the East Area from the West Area of the park: Return to Montgomery Road and turn left to go east. In 0.7 miles, at the intersection with Marshalee Drive and Deborah Jean Drive, turn slightly left to stay on Montgomery Road for another 0.5 miles, then turn left to go north on Landing Lane. The entrance to the East Area will be on your left (west side of the road) in 0.9 miles. Turn left into the park and follow the entrance road to parking.

Nearby Sites:

Centennial Lake; David Force NRA; Lake Elkhorn; Middle Patuxent Environmental Area; Mount Pleasant Farm (Howard County Conservancy); Patapsco Valley SP – Daniels Area; Patapsco Valley SP – Henryton; Schooley Mill Park; Wilde Lake.

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Suburban Neighborhood Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainRivers & Streams

Features:

Ball Fields or Other SportsBeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)Free - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesHorseback RidingParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Community and Urban Parks