Gr8 Chesapeake Bay Dog Beaches

Shhhh! Here’s the hook-up on the beautiful dog beaches along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. We have a map, pictures and useful information so you can chose the right one for your pooch.

Orange Icons = Dog Beaches | Blue Icons = Allow Pets w/ Restrictions

Beaches where dogs can run free…

#1 – Matapeake Park Dog Beach

Marine Academy Drive, Stevensville, MD
  • 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 in Maryland and one is reserved for dogs.

Don’t go through the fence entrance to the human beach. Oh no! Turn right when you get to the entrance and follow the fence that goes past the white clubhouse.

The beach is down a winding trail through the woods, ending on the sandy banks of Chesapeake Bay with a western view of the bay.

You’re rewarded with a long sandy beach that eases into the water. 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.

Note that pets are not allowed at the clubhouse, its lawn, or the public (human) beach.

There’s no entrance fee for this park.

#2 – Downs Park Dog Beach

8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, Maryland

  • Washington – 1 hr. 15 mins.
  • Baltimore – 45 minutes
  • Philadelphia – 2 hrs. 10 mins.
Downs Park Dog Beach outside Annapolis, MD

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.

#3 – Quiet Waters Dog Beach

600 Quiet Waters Park Road, Annapolis, MD
  • Washington – 50 minutes
  • Baltimore – 45 minutes
  • Philadelphia – 2 hrs. 10 mins.
Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, MD


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.

Regarding dogs: 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 and a bit of a walk away.

Drive or walk past the dog park further down the road to the next parking lot, then look for the Dog Beach sign.

The dog beach is really tucked away down a big hill. The path zigzags down the hill and then seems to end. Signs are missing at this point. But keep going.

The path to the dog beach continues through tall, reedy grass. It’s muddy due to tidal changes. But, there’s a reward for persevering along the river’s edge that every water-dog will love.

There’s a series of small, natural beaches if you keep walking along the river. 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.

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.

#4 – Calvert Cliff State Park

11704 Fenno Road, Upper Marlboro, MD
  • Washington – 1 hr. 20 mins.
  • Baltimore – 1 hr. 30 mins.
  • Philadelphia – 3 hours
Calvert Cliffs State Park, MD
Calvert Cliffs State Park, Maryland


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.

As you can see, this is a natural beach. People do lay out towels and swim, and it’s a prime spot for finding ancient sharks teeth and other fossils that are released from the cliffs and bottom of the bay which attracts people. But the long walk keeps the human numbers down.

Be aware that 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.

Beaches with a bit more restrictions

#1 – Sandy Point State Park

1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis MD
  • Washington – 50 mins.
  • Baltimore – 45 mins.
  • Philadelphia – 2 hours


Sandy Point State Park is by far the biggest beach you’ll find on the Chesapeake Bay. The 786-mile park is on the northwestern shore by the Annapolis-side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It’s the last exit before the bridge.

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.

The beach is wide, sandy and relatively clean of debris.

While the park is open year round, dogs are allowed on the beach only during off-season, October through April. During the summer months, the beach typically fills quickly with humans on nice days. It’s hugely popular.

There is a entry fee to get into the park.

#2 – Terrapin Nature Area

191 Log Canoe Circle, Stevensville, MD

  • Washington – 55 mins.
  • Baltimore – 50 mins.
  • Philadelphia – 1 hour, 50 mins.
Terrapin Park beach on Kent Island in Maryland
Terrapin County Park Beach, Kent Island


Terrapin Nature Area 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 beaches.

These beaches are not considered swimming beaches. They’re for picnicking and enjoying the spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and sunsets across the Chesapeake Bay.

Dogs are allowed in the park on a leash. They’re 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.

Be aware that it’s a carry-in, carry-out park with portable toilets. Getting to the beach is about a 10-min. 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.

#2 – Elk Neck State Park

4395 Turkey Point Rd, North East, MD

  • Washington – 1 hour, 50 mins.
  • Baltimore – 1 hour, 10 mins.
  • Philadelphia – 1 hour, 15 mins.
Elk Neck State Park Beach


The swimming area at Elk Neck State Park is at North East Beach Area on the Susquehanna Flats, near where the Elk River joins the Susquehanna River, creating the start of the Chesapeake Bay.

Dogs are allowed on the sandy beach during off-season only, before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. They are allowed on the grassy area and the rest of Elk Neck park year-round on a leash.

Being on the north end of the Chesapeake Bay full of fresh river water, it stays relatively free of nettles.

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.

#4 – Flag Ponds Nature Park

1525 Flag Ponds Parkway, Lusby, MD 20678

  • Washington – 1 hour, 15 mins.
  • Baltimore – 1 hour, 30 mins.
  • Philadelphia – 3 hours


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.

The Calvert County Health Department conducts routine water samplings of the county’s public bathing beaches from Memorial Day through Labor Day. You can check before heading to the beach this summer: Calvert County Environmental Health 410-535-3922 or 301-855-1557 or visit

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.

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