Calvert Cliffs State Park has a small, sandy swimming beach facing east across the Chesapeake Bay. Dogs are allowed on leashes and it’s a prime spot for finding ancient sharks teeth and other fossils. The catch is — it’s a 1.8 mile hike down a moderately difficult trail through the woods. The pay-off is an all-natural beach.9500 H. G. Trueman Road, Lusby, Maryland
Directions: Take Route 2/4 south to approximately 14 miles south of Prince Frederick. Exit onto H.G. Trueman Road. You will be facing the park entrance immediately.
Calvert Cliffs State Park is a large forest area with 13 miles of hiking trails. There’s a sizable picnic area near the entrance with full facilities, and a large playground made out of recycled tires. It’s a great spot for families with small kids to play.
But the hike to the beach is not good for small children, strollers, and people with flip-flops and sand buckets. A better beach for families with young children is the nearby Flag Ponds Nature Park.
The park has about 50 parking spaces, but they’ll park vehicles in the grass on busy weekends.
Calvert Cliff State Park is run by an association of volunteers, and a volunteer will greet you at the park entrance. The fee is $5 per vehicle for Maryland residents and $7 for out-of-state vehicles. The friendly volunteer will explain where things are and park rules. They also have items for sale — t-shirts, hats. pins, patches and bottles of water — to raise money for the park. There’s no business area or stores near the park, so make sure you bring your provisions.
There are two routes to the beach — the 2 mile service road and the 1.8 mile trail. Only official park vehicles are allowed to drive on the service road. You can walk the service road but it’s hilly and physically more challenging than the red route. The shortest route, 1.8 miles, takes the average hiker about 40-minutes one way.
Park officials suggest you bring water for the hike. Arrive early on weekends, and especially holidays as the large parking lot can fill up quickly during season.
The beach trail is well marked by red marks on trees and small carved-wood signs. It begins as a nice wood-chip trail past a one-acre fishing pond, but quickly turns into a standard nature trail through woods and over creeks. It gets mushy in parts. There are a number of benches along the way for resting, and mile-markers that let you know you have a ways to go yet. Be aware it is not an easy roll for coolers on wheels.
Once down the moderately difficult hill, the trail strolls past a beautiful marsh. That’s when you forget the mile markers and just admire the view. Beavers have been at work and raised the water level a bit, causing a squishy trail in parts. There’s usually an unmarked side trail going around the mud on higher ground.
The beach is at the far end of the marsh. Actually, the marsh is what’s caused the beach between the Calvert Cliffs; over time, the water cut down the cliffs in that area.
There are porta-potties at the beach entrance, along with a mountain-bike rack and a sign describing the more common of the over 600 species of fossils you could find on the beach. You’ll also find a couple picnic tables, but no grills, no water and no lifeguard. Nor is there a trash can; you must carry out what you brought in.
The narrow, sandy beach is about a city-block long. The sand is full of rocks, shells and drift wood. It’s a lumpy beach for spreading out a towel.
— CBMM (@CBMMorg) July 5, 2016
The cliffs have collapsed on one side of the beach and was cordoned off as of this writing. You’re not allowed to walk next to the cliffs, and digging into the cliffs for fossils is illegal.
“All access to the cliffs is prohibited to visitors, including walking past them in the water. This is for your safety as landslides can spill more than 15 feet out into the water, to reduce the potential for visitors to go ashore, and to preserve those areas for wildlife.” — Alicia Lindbom, Calvert Cliffs State Park Seasonal Ranger
So, stick to the open beach area. The Chesapeake Bay is shallow for about 15 feet from the beach.
Dogs are allowed on the beach and in the water as long as they’re on a lead.
For more information please see: http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/southern/calvertcliffs.aspx and the Department of Natural Resources Events Calendar. You may also contact the ranger directly at 443-975-4360.