Beaches where Dogs Can run Free

Matapeake dog beach on Kent Island, MD

MATAPEAKE PARK DOG BEACH

Marine Academy Drive, Stevensville, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 1 hour
– Baltimore – 1 hour
– Philadelphia – 1 hr. 50 mins.

Matapeake Park is on Kent Island just off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The island has some of the most beautiful beaches on the bay and one is reserved for dogs.

Don’t go through the fence entrance. Oh no! Follow the path outside the fence. The beach is down a winding trail through the woods, ending on the sandy banks of the Chesapeake Bay with the bridge in the distance.

You’re rewarded with a long sandy beach that eases into the water facing west. The dog beach area is actually bigger than the human beach section.

Parking is located at the Matapeake Clubhouse and Public Beach entrance, but it’s a small lot. There’s an overflow lot a short walk away at the trailhead of the South Island Biking Trail. 

8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 1 hr. 15 mins.
– Baltimore – 45 minutes
– Philadelphia – 2. hrs. 10 mins.

This popular county beach located on the Chesapeake Bay is enclosed, so dogs are allowed to run and swim freely. No human swimming allowed, only dogs.

While the dog beach is small, Downs Park is 236 acres big and has more than five miles of paved and natural trails. But dogs must be on a leash while walking outside the dog beach.

The beach is a five minute walk from the parking lot down a dirt trail. It’s well-marked.

It’s open 7 days a week from 7:00 a.m. to dusk. There is a fee to enter.

Dog Beach at Down's Park

Downs Park dog Beach

Quiet Waters dog beach, Annapolis MD

QUIET WATERS DOG BEACH

600 Quiet Waters Park Road, Annapolis, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 50 minutes
– Baltimore – 45 minutes
– Philadelphia – 2 hrs. 10 mins.

Quiet Waters county park is on the South River where it goes into the Chesapeake Bay. Its 340 beautiful acres include trails that wind through forests and past grassy fields. The park also has picnicking and a children’s playground. 

The park has both a dog park and a dog beach. The park is a large enclosed area where dogs can be unleashed and run about. The dog beach is in a different location. 

Drive or walk down the road to the next parking lot, then look for the Dog Beach sign and follow the long path.

Keep walking along the river path. There’s a series of small, natural beaches. This is a tidal area and the beaches are backed up to a dirt cliff, which means that they’ll be much smaller at high tide.

Quiet Waters dog beach, Annapolis MD

While there’s sand on these little beaches, the sand gives way to shells and rocks in the water. And there’s a rock line in the water to protect the beaches from erosion. Something to be aware of for some dogs.

Dogs must be on a leash outside the fenced Dog Park.

There is a fee to get into the park.

11704 Fenno Road, Upper Marlboro, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 1 hr. 20 mins.
– Baltimore – 1 hr. 30 mins.
– Philadelphia – 3 hours

Calvert Cliffs State Park has a small, sandy swimming beach facing east across the Chesapeake Bay. It’s not a ‘dog beach’ but dogs are allowed splash about on leashes. 

People do lay out towels and swim. However, the long walk to the beach keeps the human numbers down. That’s why Calvert Cliff is on this side of the list. 

Beach picnic area at Calvert Cliffs State Park, MD

It’s a two-mile hike down a dirt path with rocks and roots, through woods, past a swamp and down a hill, to the water. A slog to carry coolers and beach gear, and it gets slippery in any sort of drizzle. Dogs love it. 

Make sure you bring your own water and other supplies. The beach is carry in/carry out.

The park gets full quickly in the on weekends in the summer and will close until room opens up. There is a day-use fee to get into the park.

Calvert Cliffs State Park, MD

Calvert Cliff State Park

Beaches where Dogs have restricitons

Sandy Point Beach State Park

SANDY POINT STATE PARK

1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 50 mins.
– Baltimore – 45 minutes
– Philadelphia – 2 hours

DOGS ALLOWED ON BEACH DURING OFF SEASON

Sandy Point State Park is by far the biggest beach you’ll find on the Chesapeake Bay. The 786-mile park is on the Annapolis-side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

While the park is open year round, dogs are allowed on the beach only during off-season, October through April. That’s because it’s packed full of people during the summer months.

The beach is groomed and it has amazing water views of the bridge and the massive cargo ships traveling to Baltimore, or Philadelphia on the Delaware Bay, and the rest of the world.

There is a entry fee to get into the park.

1524 Flag Ponds Parkway, Lusby, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 1 hr. 15 mins.
– Baltimore – 1 hr. 30 mins.
– Philadelphia – 3 hours

DOGS ALLOWED YEAR-ROUND ON A LEASH

Flag Ponds Nature Park is a gorgeous, vast county-operated beach facing East across the waves of the Chesapeake Bay.

The beach is a half-mile hike through the woods. Those woods open up to a huge sandy beach. A shoals hooks into the Bay and captures sand. The entire peninsula is covered with a fine cream-colored sand.

There’s room to set up away from humans, depending on how far you want to walk. The big beach and easy walk makes Flag Ponds a favorite of families, so there’s likely to be lots of kids on hot summer days.

Park hours vary: Friday & Monday 9am-4pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-5pm. Closed Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday.

Beach and entrance gate close 1 hour prior to park closing.

There is a fee to enter the park.

Flag Ponds Nature Preserve Beach 2021

Flag Ponds Nature Park

Terrapin Park beach on Kent Island in Maryland

TERRAPIN NATURE PARK

191 Log Canoe Circle, Stevensville, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 55 minutes
– Baltimore – 50 minutes
– Philadelphia – 1 hr. 50 mins.

DOGS ALLOWED YEAR-ROUND ON A LEASH

Terrapin Nature Park is a 276-acre county nature park and features 3.25-miles of crushed oyster shell-covered paths through wildflower meadows, wetlands, tidal ponds and sandy beach.

The county does not consider this a swimming beach, but people do go into the water. Technically, the beach for picnicking and enjoying the spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and sunsets across the Chesapeake Bay.

Terrapin Nature Park beach trail on Kent Island, MD

Dogs not supposed to run free to splash and swim, but they can frolic on a long leash. The county has set aside Matapeake Beach for dogs who enjoy a leash-free swim.

It’s a carry-in, carry-out park with portable toilets. Getting to the beach is about a 10-minute walk from the park’s parking lot.

Terrapin is behind a business park and shares a small parking lot with the Cross Island hiking/biking trail trailhead.

On weekends, visitors also park along the street in the business park. Nearby free parking is available at Old Love Point Park (300 Old Love Point Road, Stevensville, MD), about a 20-minute walk down the Cross Island Trail.

There’s no entrance fee.

Marine Academy Drive, Stevensville, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 1 hour
– Baltimore – 1 hour
– Philadelphia – 1 hr. 50 mins.

DOGS ALLOWED ON BEACH DURING OFF-SEASON, MUST BE ON LEASH

North East Beach in Elk Neck State Park is on the Susquehanna Flats, near where the Elk River joins the Susquehanna River, creating the start of the Chesapeake Bay. Being on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay full of fresh river water, it stays relatively free of nettles.

Dogs are allowed on the sandy beach during off-season only, before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. There are additional beaches on both sides of the main beach, a short walk away.

Elk Neck State Park beach

Dogs are allowed on the grassy area of the beach and the rest of Elk Neck park year-round on a leash. 

The beach area is open from 9am to sunset and features picnic tables, grills and a restroom with cold showers.

There is a fee to enter the park.

Elk Neck State Park

Ferry Point Nature Park beach

FERRY POINT PARK

600 Swan Cove Lane, Chester, MD

APPROX HOW FAR?
– Washington, DC – 1 hour
– Baltimore – 1 hour
– Philadelphia – 1 hr. 50 mins.

DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH

Ferry Point Park is on Kent Island just off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. This is a hidden gem, smaller and less known.

The park features 41 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands as well as uplands. The beach is down a one-mile unpaved trail from the island’s visitors center. The only facilities are in the visitors center. 

This is a nature park, so no cooler, fires, swimming or fishing allowed. However, dogs can splash about on a leash. 

Ferry Park beach on Kent Island