At a Glance

Hours: Open sunrise to sunset, all year.

Cost: Free, but parking is at on-street metered spots.

Tips: No restrooms. Bring change for the parking meter on weekdays.

Best Seasons: All except mid-summer.

Local MOS Chapters: Patuxent Bird Club

Schoolhouse Pond

14100 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
(301) 627-7755

Schoolhouse Pond is a gem of a birding spot; in fact, it boasts the highest eBird species list in Prince George’s County. The pond is located in the town of Upper Marlboro, directly across the street from the Prince George’s County Administration Building, and is managed as a conservation area by the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Interestingly, no one really knows how and when the pond originated. It is not shown on older maps of the town. Some say it was built as a mill pond, but it’s just speculation. The pond occupies about 12 acres of a 30-acre parkland and is stocked with fish.  Amenities at the park include a fishing pier, photo blind, 3/4-mile boardwalk, picnic area, and nature trail through the adjoining woods. There are no restrooms.

The trail plus the boardwalk make a complete circuit of the pond, passing through wet woods and along a stream behind the pond.  An observation platform on the back edge of the pond provides a good view of a marshy area favored by Wilson’s Snipe. Usually the water in the pond remains at least partly open, even in freezing weather, thanks to influx from tributary streams. Some of the pond is covered by emergent vegetation, while other sections are exposed mud and some is deeper water. The pond hosts a good winter selection of waterfowl and shorebirds in migration. Proximity to the county landfill attracts gulls in large numbers. The wooded areas are good for warblers and other passerines.

Birdlife:

Schoolhouse Pond holds the #1 spot in Prince George’s County for number of species reported. As of Fall 2018, the species list on eBird stands at 235. The length of the species list is due almost entirely to the diligent daily visits by Fred Shaffer, former President of the Patuxent Bird Club, who works in the county building across the street. Fred has compiled a seasonal checklist of birds at Schoolhouse Pond, downloadable at http://www.mncppc.org/DocumentCenter/View/2623/Bird-Checklist—-School-….

Waterfowl include most of the dabbling ducks; wintering gulls sometimes include rarities such as Franklin’s, Black-headed, and Little Gulls.  Blue-winged Teal may be present almost any time of year.Wilson’s Snipe and American Coot are regular in season. Virginia Rails may be heard in spring and Sora in the fall.  Shorebirds use the pond’s mudflats during migration. The trail offers good passerine birding during spring and fall migration, and even in winter there may be surprises.  Breeding birds include Black-crowned Night-Heron and Barred Owl.

Parking:

On-street metered parking along Governor Oden Bowie Drive; the meters are strictly monitored during weekday business hours. Free parking on weekends and after 6 pm on weekdays.

Special Features:

The boardwalk at Schoolhouse Pond is wheelchair accessible but some parts of the trail in the woods on the far side of the pond may be muddy and would not be appropriate for a wheelchair. ◾ The pond is a popular fishing spot. Many of the fishermen notice the birds and can tell you what’s around.  ◾ 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 junction of US Route 301 near Upper Marlboro, turn onto westbound MD Route 725/Marlboro Pike toward the heart of historic Upper Marlboro. Go 0.8 miles on Route 725, staying straight at the light at the intersection of MD Route 202, and then turning right at the next light onto Governor Oden Bowie Drive. You will pass a historic home (Darnall’s Chance) on the right. Schoolhouse Pond is immediately after Darnall’s Chance, and is also on the right. Look for parking at a meter on the street. Parking is usually plentiful in the early mornings or evenings, and on weekends, but the spaces may be full during weekday working hours. Don’t forget to feed the parking meter if visiting during weekday working hours.

Nearby Sites:

Patuxent River Park-Jug Bay Natural Area; Patuxent River Park-Mount Calvert Historical Site; Merkle NRMA; Milltown Landing WMA; Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary (Anne Arundel County).

Habitats:

Bottomland Deciduous Urban or Small Town Landscape Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams

Features:

BeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)BoardwalkFishingFree - No Entry FeeHiking/Walking TrailsLake, Pond, Bay, River, OceanObservation Platform or TowerParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

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