I’ve lived in Maryland for far too long without ever visiting Calvert Cliffs State Park. Big mistake on my part, it’s an absolute gem!
An hour’s drive south from where I live in Edgewater, it’s an easy drive straight down Rt 2/Rt 4. For in-state residents, the cost is only $5 per car (if possible, please bring smaller bills to use, the gate guard will thank you!). There is plenty of parking, though they do advise to call ahead to make sure the park is not at capacity when you arrive. The parking lot surrounds a recycled tire playground with picnic tables scattered about. It was a perfect spot to eat our packed lunch and play on the playground for a little bit before hiking out to the fossil beach. There are public restrooms at the entrance of the park (there are also three port-a-potties further down the trail, close to the beach).
We took the red trail to the beach which is 1.8 miles each way. The entire park has over 13 miles of hiking trails. While some brave parents used their rugged jogging strollers to cart the kids, the path is at times narrow and crisscrossed with tree roots. I would not suggest a wagon or any other wheeled device—it would be more hassle than what it’s worth, plus there are some wooden walkways over water. I was there with my two kids (ages 9 and 10) and my sister was with her three kids (ages 9, 7, and 2.5). We did have to carry my toddler niece through parts but the path was easily navigated even with her little legs and burned off some awesome energy. The park is also extremely dog-friendly; my daughter stopped to pet every dog that crossed our path.
The path starts in the woods and as you get closer to the beach, it opens up into marsh areas which was a great place to spot dozens and dozens of turtles sunning themselves on tree logs. We also spotted snakes, minnows, bullfrogs and a bald eagle.
The beach itself was slightly crowded, but not so much that there wasn’t room to dig and hunt for fossils, shark’s teeth and shells. We enjoyed the sound of the waves and the sunshine while amassing a collection of rocks and shells to bring home. My sister and I packed up the beach finds while the kids were still happily playing since it is a 1.8 mile hike back, plus those rocks and buckets of shells aren’t light!
Once we finished the trek back, the kids went back to playground for a bit and then we headed home for dinner. It was a really great experience for all of us and I’m excited to go back again and explore the other nature trails!
Calvert Cliffs State Park
10540 HG Trueman Rd, Lusby, MD