Trails and Boardwalks


The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary has over 15 miles of hiking trails and boardwalks. Trails are all on natural, non-paved surfaces and most trails follow the flat, gently rolling topographic relief with few hills to climb. The trails make for a great half-day or full-day of hiking and exploring a variety of wetland and upland habitats. Several paths near the Wetlands Center are accessible by wheel chairs and strollers, including the Observation Deck, but most trails are not. In wet or icy weather some trails and boardwalks can be slippery.  Benches are found along many trails and on wildlife viewing platforms.

Boardwalks take hikers across marshes, through swamps, and over open water to the river. Wildlife viewing platforms, including the Observation Deck, River Pier and the Beaver Pond platform, provide spectacular vistas and close-up views of birds, turtles, and other forms of aquatic life. 

Groups of 10 or more people are required to make a reservation prior to their visit. 

Trails - South Region of Sanctuary (“Main” Sanctuary and River Farm areas)
NEWEST TRAIL: QR Code Trail. 1,600 meters (1 mile)
A self-guided interactive loop featuring 16 plaques with QR (quick response) codes that can be scanned using a smartphone. Scanning the QR code opens a web page with information on plants, animals, and human history at the scan site. The app QRReader is recommended for iOS devices. Recommendations for Android OS will be coming.

Beech Trail. Length: 1,300 meters (0.8 miles)
A U-shaped trail that runs between the Pindell Bluff Trail and the Farm Entrance road. The trail crosses twice over Pindell Creek on small footbridges.

Farm Entrance Road. Length: 1,800 meters (1.1 miles)
This one-lane, paved road passes through a dense forest with tall trees and branches overhanging the road. While this is not a hiking trail, many people enjoy walking on this road and watching for songbirds in the canopy and surrounding woods.

Farm Trail. Length: 600 meters (0.4 miles)
Connects the Upper Railroad Bed Trail and the Farm Entrance road. This trail overlooks the beaver pond.

Forest Trail. Length: 1,100 meter (0.7 mile)
A circular trail that begins at the Meadow and runs for about 1 mile through mature forests, ending at Middle Trail.

Middle Trail. Length: 200 meters (0.12 mile)
Runs between the Forest Trail and Utility Road. Passes along the edge of a seasonal swamp (vernal pool) that fills with water during exceptionally high rain storms in later winter, spring or summer.

Otter Point Trail. Length: 800 meters (0.5 mile)
Runs from the Wetlands Center to Otter Point at the mouth of Two Run Branch. A platform over the creek channel at Otter Point provides a view of the river, the tidal wetlands and a beaver dam 100m up the creek. Picnic tables and benches.

Pindell Bluff Trail. Length: 2,200 meters (1.4 miles)
One of the longest and least traveled trails in the Sanctuary, it takes you along the edge of the Pindell Branch floodplain and through quiet forests of beech, poplar, and oak. Nice views of the broad river at the mouth of Pindell Branch. It begins near the smaller of the two barns at the River Farm area and terminates at the Farm Entrance road.

Railroad Bed Trail. Length: 875 meters (0.5 mile)
Begins at Otter Point Trail and runs west to the pier (River Pier) at the edge of the Patuxent River. Two viewing platforms: Observation Blind and Snail Platform; benches at both.

Two Run Trail Length: 525 meters (0.3 mile)
Runs between the Middle Trail and Otter Point. Goes along the bluff above Two Run Branch. Ends near a beaver pond 100 meters upstream from Otter Point. A viewing platform with bench overlooks the beaver pond.

Upper Railroad Bed Trail. Length: 1,200 meters (0.75 mile)
Goes from Otter Point Trail to the Farm Entrance Road. This trail runs next to and in the old railroad grade. The path crosses Two Run Branch at Mickey’s Footbridge. Benches overlooking the creek.

Utility Trail. Length: 200 meters (0.12 mile)
A short trail that heads due south from the Wetlands Center and connects with Two Run and Middle Trails.

Trails - North Region of Sanctuary (Glendening Nature Preserve)
Beaver-Rock Trail. Length: 1,250 meters (0.80 miles)
This trail begins near the butterfly garden at Plummer House and goes northwest to end at the Red Oak Trail. It passes near the high bluff above Galloway Creek, an area that where beaver have built dams in the past, and it terminates at the Sand Barrens.

Blueberry Trail. Length: 1,200 meters (0.75 miles)
This trail begins at Plummer Lane and runs west to the Cliff Trail. Passes along the Pine Barrens.

Cedar Trail. Length 300 meters (0.2 miles)
A short forest trail between Beaver Rock and Cliff Trails.

Cliff Trail. Length: 1,000 meters (0.6 miles)
This trail runs along the west edge of the Preserve, atop the bluff above the Patuxent wetlands. Good views, especially in winter, of the broad marshes and river in the distance.

Dogwood Trail. Length: 300 meters (0.2 miles)
A short forest trail between Red Oak and Cliff Trails.

Holly Trail. Length 300 meters (0.2 miles)
A short forest trail between Maple and Cliff Trails.

Maple Trail. Length: 625 meters (0.4 miles)
A short forest trail between Beaver Rock and Blueberry Trails.

Pine Barrens Trail. Length: 1,000 meters (0.6 miles)
This trail begins near the Plummer House and loops around the Pine Barrens, connecting with Blueberry Trail on the southern ends.

Red Oak Trail. Length: 2,200 meters (1.4 miles)
This trail begins at the parking lot on Wrighton Rd. The trail runs the entire length of the Glendening Preserve in a north-south direction, from Wrighton Road on the south and ending at Galloway Creek on the north. At the north end the trail drops down to a low area that was a former gravel pit, now filled with Virginia Pine and Opuntia cactus. We call this area the “Sand Barrens.”  A picnic table is located here.

Spicebush Trail. Length: 400 meters (0.25 miles)
A short trail that heads to a low area in the forest which fills with rainwater during exceptionally rainy periods. At these times a 3-acre vernal pool up to a meter deep supports Spadefoot Toads, Spotted Salamanders and Wood Ducks.

Trails in Fields and Meadows
Meadow Trail (around Meadow near Wetlands Center)
A mowed path that runs for about 300 yards through and around the managed meadow near the Wetlands Center.

Warm Season Grass Meadow Trail (River Farm)
A mowed path that runs for about 600 yards, encircling the managed warm season grass meadow at the River Farm area of the Sanctuary.

Field paths at Glendening Preserve
Several mowed paths go around and through the meadows at the Plummer Lane area of the Glendening Preserve. The Blueberry Trail goes along the south side of the Pine Barrens area at Glendening, and other paths encircle this large open and pine-filled area. A path runs for about 1000 meters around the Pine Barrens.

Boardwalks, Wildlife Viewing Blinds, and Platforms
Beaver Pond Platform
A small platform that overlooks a beaver pond on Two-run Creek. Bench.

Doris’ Pier
A short pier near the southern end of the Marsh Boardwalk. This is the launch site for our restored Sora Rail hunting boat.

Marsh Boardwalk
A 300 meter long boardwalk that runs just above the high tide waters along the wetland edge below the Wetlands Center. A perfect place to begin your explorations of the area. Bench.

Observation Deck
This high platform near the Wetlands Center provides a panoramic view of the river, wetlands and floodplain. A great place to scope for birds, search for basking turtles, or to have a picnic lunch. Benches.

Observation Blind
An enclosed wildlife viewing blind with windows, at the end of a 75 meter long boardwalk off the Railroad Bed Trail. Waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, muskrats, otters and turtles can be seen here. Rails and Least bitterns are often heard or seen in the cattails. Bench.

Otter Point Platform
A platform and boardwalk at the mouth of Two Run Creek. A great spot to see Bald Eagles and Ospreys as they forage over the river. Picnic table and benches.

River Pier
This pier is found at the end of the Railroad Bed Trail. It is the launching site for our canoe excursions and it supports automatic water sampling devices that monitor water pollution and other conditions. Another good spot for birding and enjoying a view of the wide Patuxent River floodplain. Bench.

Scrub-shrub Boardwalk
A 100 meter long boardwalk that snakes through the dense vegetation of a shrub wetland. Platforms along the boardwalk are good places to have lunch and to enjoy the lush plant life. Bench at end of boardwalk.

Snail Platform
A small platform above a quiet pocket marsh where a variety of marsh plants can be seen and identified. Brownish Oxyloma marsh snails are found here in abundance, on the cattails and arrow arum stalks. Bench.

Swamp Blind
A small shed with a window for viewing waterbirds; near Otter Point, off the Otter Point Trail. A short connecting boardwalk passes through a freshwater tidal swamp filled with ash trees.  Bench.