Susquehanna State Park
4122 Wilkinson Road, Havre de Grace, MD 21078
Located in the Susquehanna River Valley along the eastern border of Harford County, Susquehanna State Park contains 2,651 acres of old growth forests, open fields, multiple streams, and access to the Susquehanna River itself. The park offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities as well as points of historical significance, including the historic Rock Run Mill area. Extending from Deer Creek at the north end to the Lapidum boat ramp at the south end, this park offers over 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, fishing, boating, bicycling, horseback riding, picnicking, camping, and excellent birding opportunities. It is known as the best place in Harford County, and perhaps in the state, for migrating warblers in spring and fall.
A network of trails criss-crosses the park. A section of the Mason-Dixon Trail runs along the river and an old canal bed to connect the Deer Creek area of the park with Fisherman’s Park at the Conowingo Dam to the north. This trail may appear on some maps as the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenways Trail, and the northern part of it may be called the Shuresville Landing Wildflower Trail. Whatever it’s called, it’s worth a walk in any season for its outstanding birding, views of the river, and views of wildflowers in spring, notably Virginia Bluebells and Dutchman’s Breeches that carpet the cliffs along the west side of the trail. Notable birds here include breeding Prothonotary Warblers and Baltimore Orioles. Winter brings a large number of Bald Eagles to the river. The trail is marked with Greenways emblems at half mile intervals. The 2.2-mile section between Conowingo Dam and Stafford Road at Deer Creek is mostly a stone-dust surface with some dirt sections, and can accommodate a wheelchair, but may be too soft after wet weather. This trail is accessible from the Deer Creek Picnic Area or Conowingo Dam parking area. A one-mile unimproved section continues south along the Susquehanna, bringing you to a trestle bridge at the mouth of Deer Creek.
Consult the Maryland Division of Natural Resources website at https://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/Susquehanna/Trails.aspx for a description of more trails in the park. Most trails are good for forest-dwelling birds; the Farm Road Trail also offers opportunities for birds of field and brushy-scrubby habitat.
Susquehanna State Park is well known for its rich diversity of bird life, with over 210 species reported on eBird. There are numerous eBird hotspots covering the park; the most productive are
Considered one of the best birding areas in Harford County, the lush forests of Susquehanna State Park are breeding grounds for many forest-dwelling species, including flycatchers, warblers, vireos, and orioles. In the warm season, a variety of swallows fly above the water. The Susquehanna River is also a major migratory route for gulls, waterfowl, raptors, and passerines.
The park is known as the best place for warblers in Harford County, and perhaps in all of the Central Region. Over 30 species of warblers pass through in spring and fall migration. Notable breeding species include Cerulean Warblers, found in the Deer Park Picnic area; Kentucky Warblers, found in dense understory in moist woods; and Prothonotary Warblers, found along the river’s edge at the Shure’s Landing Wildflower Trail. Also breeding in suitable habitat are Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Northern Parula, and Yellow-throated Warblers.
Other notable birds in the warm months include Wood Duck, Green Heron, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, both orioles, and a variety of flycatchers, vireos, swallows, and sparrows.
The Lapidum area provides good viewing for waterfowl and gulls in winter. Also in winter, the river below Conowingo Dam is known for attracting large number of Bald Eagles, with over 200 individuals possible in a day. Look for eagles sitting on the rocks in the river and in the trees on the shores. The eagles are still present in summer, but in smaller numbers, and they are joined by numerous Osprey. Occasionally, Spotted Sandpipers and other shorebirds can be found on the river’s edge during the warm seasons.
Year-round residents of the woods include Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, Blue Jay, American and Fish Crows, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, House Finch, American Goldfinch, and House Sparrow.
Free parking is available in several parking lots located throughout the park and also in designated areas along Stafford Road in the Deer Creek area. See the trail map at link at left for locations.
It is possible to bird from or near the car at picnic and parking areas and along Stafford Road and other public roads in the park, making this a good spot for those who are mobility-impaired. The Greenways Trail (Wildflower Trail) from Conowingo to Stafford Road is wheelchair accessible, but parts of it may be too soft for wheelchairs, especially after wet weather. There are wheelchair accessible campsites and the Lapidum boat ramp is also accessible.◾ Susquehanna Park offers campground facilities with several cabins for rent. ◾ The Rock Run area offers tours of the historic Grist Mill and the Carter-Archer Mansion (hours and season limited, check Division of Natural Resources website at http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/central/susquehanna.aspx). ◾ A large portion of the Susquehanna River and its shores, from north of the Pennsylvania border to Port Deposit on the Cecil County side and to I-95 on the Harford County side, has been designated as the Susquehanna River Important Bird Area (IBA) by the National Audubon Society. ◾ Susquehanna State Park is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of the National Park Service. ◾ Fun fact: The very first MOS Sanctuary, circa 1960-1973, was a 57-acre property that was leased by MOS from a private landowner, and that is now part of Susquehanna State Park. The sanctuary was located at the intersection of Rock Run Road and Wilkinson Road, just uphill from the Rock Run Grist Mill. The Rock Run MOS Sanctuary included a four-story historic house and the grounds housed a bird banding station, a study grid for scientific observations, a trail system, a pavilion, and bird feeding stations. While active, the sanctuary hosted numerous activities of the Harford Bird Club and MOS. Eventually, the house was destroyed by fire and the land became part of Susquehanna State Park. Click here for a map showing the location of the former sanctuary. ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Harford Bird Club, which offers field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
From I-95 north of Baltimore: Take Exit 89 to MD Route 155/Level Road northbound. Follow MD Route 155 north for 2.8 miles, then turn right (north) onto MD Route 161/Darlington Road. In 0.4 miles, turn right (northeast) onto Rock Run Road. You will enter the park grounds in about a mile. Follow this road all the way to its end at the Rock Run Mill historic area for a good spot to start your birding.
To reach the Deer Creek Picnic area from Rock Run: At the end of Rock Run Road turn left (northwest) onto Stafford Road and continue to the picnic area parking on the left. The picnic area charges a fee for entry.
To reach the Lapidum Boat Launch from Rock Run: At the end of Rock Run Road turn right (southeast) onto Stafford Road and continue to the boat launch parking area on the left. Be aware that this road is rocky, narrow, and uneven and may be impassable after heavy rain or snow. The boat launch area charges a fee for day use for those not launching a boat.
For other areas: Follow signs inside the park and consult the trail map at link at left.
Harford Glen Environmental Education Center; Rocks State Park; Anita C. Leight Estuary Center; Perryman & Forest Green Area; Tydings Memorial Park and Havre de Grace Marina; Swan Harbor Farm; Conowingo Dam/Fisherman’s Park (Harford County Side); Perryville Community Park; Octoraro Creek Trail at Conowingo Park
Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Farmyard Hay Meadows, Pasture, Grass Field Forested SwampMud Flats (Tidal or Non-Tidal)Rivers & Streams
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