One might hear Calvert Cliffs State Park and immediately think awesome shark tooth hunting. After all, the features for which the locale is named are well known as the source of millions-of-years-old fossils along Chesapeake shores. However, in our experience, fossil finds are not what make the park an excellent day trip destination; whenever we have visited, we’ve found just a few small shark teeth at most. [Note: The pics here are from a visit this past summer… ’cause I have to keep the theme going of posting months after our visits. 😉]
What is more appealing about Calvert Cliffs State Park are its other main recreational activities: Hiking, beaching, and swimming. There are 13 miles of trails total within the park, including one that is the direct route to the beach. It’s pretty evident where to catch the Red Trail from the parking lot, then it’s a two-mile ramble to reach the sand and surf, but a fairly easy and very scenic one.
The route is flat and mellow for the most part, so little ones can tackle it, and stretches through woods and along edges of marshes. Part of the trail is a wide dirt path shaded by tall leafy trees and part is a boardwalk that extends along wetlands. You can walk and take in expansive views of the marsh areas filled with lily pads and aquatic plants. In a few places, the boardwalk extends out into them for a closer look, and there are a couple of benches on the way to sit and enjoy the scenes.
When you come to the one fork in the trail, there’s a sign that points the way to the beach. Follow that and you’ll eventually hit the stretch of sand where you can find a place to park your stuff and hang out awhile. It’s not a huge area as barriers are in place to keep people from accessing the actual cliff areas. Expect to share the space with a good amount of other people on nice days, especially weekends, though not too many that it’s crowded. The park limits capacity, even more during Covid, so it’s not overwhelming.
Swimming is permitted, and the water is shallow and calm, but look out for jellyfish. If you’re into fossil hunting, definitely do some searching for relics — like I said, I have found some small pieces there — but don’t be disappointed if you don’t find much. And what you don’t find fossil-wise, you’ll make up for with a nice little hike and beach fun.
Calvert Cliffs State Park is located at 10540 H. G. Trueman Road in Lusby, MD, about a one-hour drive from DC. Entry to the park is $7/vehicle, and it’s open sunrise to sunset. Bring along a picnic as there are no concessions in the park, just keep in mind that whatever you pack you’ll be carrying two miles. And make a stop at the bathroom near the parking lot since there isn’t one at the beach area.
As mentioned, the park limits capacity, so have a Plan B in mind in case you get there and it’s full. Annmarie Sculpture Garden is just a few minutes down the road and just a bit further is the Calvert Marine Museum.