Visiting Calvert Cliffs Beach

 

Calvert Cliffs State Park swimming beach faces east across the Chesapeake Bay. It’s a prime spot for finding ancient sharks’ teeth and other fossils sunk into the cliffs and the beach below. 

 

10540 H.G. Trueman Road, Lusby, MD

Open year-round, sunrise to sunset

BEACH HIGHLIGHTS

  • Public beach
  • 1.8 mile hike to beach
  • Portable toilets & picnic tables at beach
  • Facilities & playground near parking lots
  • NO Lifeguards
  • Fee to enter park

About Calvert Cliffs Beach

Calvert Cliffs State Park is named after the large orange-ish dirt cliffs that line this Calvert County section of the Chesapeake Bay.

The beach is famous for prehistoric sharks’ teeth and other fossils. They’re embedded in the cliffs formed 10 to 20 million years ago around prehistoric animals, including birds the size of big drones. 

You’ll notice a lot of beach-goers searching for sharks’ teeth.

The beach is located where Grays Creek enters the Chesapeake Bay between cliffs and offers a beautiful view Eastern view.

It is about a city-block long. The sand is full of rocks, shells, and driftwood. It’s a lumpy beach for spreading out a towel, but you can find some smoother, sandier areas. It varies depending on what the latest storm did to the beach.

The beach size depends on the tide and can be as quite wide at low tide. At high tide, the water is shallow — about waist-high for an adult — for maybe 100-yards or more.

Calvert Cliffs Beach: What to Know Before You Go

Calvert Cliffs State Park beach

Pets are allowed on a leash. Be aware though that there’s no fresh water at the beach other than the swamp. The water flowing from the swamp is orangish due to the iron ore rock that’s in the cliffs.

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 of 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 days of walking along the bottom of the cliffs are long gone. It’s too dangerous. Tree roots are lapping over the top edge, ready to tumble. The park has blocked off those sandy areas and posted warning signs.

The Hike to Calvert Cliffs Beach

Yes, the path to the beach is a hike.

The 1.8-mile (one-way) path to the beach starts on the top of the cliff and follows the creek from a babbling brook through the woods, down a ravine where it turns into a marshy stream and ends in a swamp blocked from the bay by a sand-and-rocky beach.

There are two routes to the beach from the parking lots: the 3-mile service road and the nearly two-mile trail. Only official park vehicles are allowed to drive on the service road.

The shortest route, the 1.8-mile “red trail,” takes the average hiker about 45-minutes.

About that tarp —  Much of the four-acre swamp is covered with black plastic. The park is trying to remove an invasive reed grass that looks like giant wheat, called phragmites. The tarp is expected to be removed in the fall of 2022.

The beach trail is well marked by carved-wood signs. It begins as a nice wood-chip trail along a one-acre fishing pond but quickly turns into a standard nature trail through woods and over creeks. There are a number of benches along the way for resting, and mile-markers that let you know that you have a ways to go yet.

Once down the moderately difficult hill, the trail strolls by a beautiful marsh. That’s when you forget the mile markers and just admire the view. The trail can be squishy in parts. Park staff have been adding water drainage and boardwalks to make it a bit easier.

The hike to the beach is challenging for small children, strollers, and rolling coolers. If you’re wearing flip-flops, carrying sand buckets, and an umbrella, a better beach is the nearby Flag Ponds Nature Park (1525 Flag Ponds Parkway, Lusby, MD)  It caters to families with young children and welcomes beach toys. The beach is a 10-minute walk down a dirt road.

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Other Things to Know About Calvert Cliffs Beach

Calvert Cliffs State Park playground

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 kids to play.

There is an entrance fee and hours vary depending on the time of year. 

The friendly volunteer at the entrance will explain where things are and the park rules. They also have items for sale — t-shirts, hats, pins, patches, and bottles of water — to raise money for the park.

There are no stores near the park, so make sure you bring your provisions.

The park has about 50 parking spaces, but they’ll park vehicles in the grass on busy weekends.

NOTE: Staff will close the park when it reaches capacity, which happens on hot weekends and holidays. You can call 443-975-4360​.

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