by Katherine O. Rizzo (first published in the September 2023)

The Calvert Cliffs State Park in Lusby is managed by the Maryland State Park Service. It is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. There is a day use fee of $5 per vehicle, with an additional $2 per vehicle charge for out-of-state residents. The 1,079-acre park is part of nearly 4,000-acres of continuous forest providing habitat for all kinds of wildlife including wood thrushes, barred owls, beavers, and muskrats. In early summer, the yellow flowers of the endangered swollen bladderwort can be seen in the wetlands.

The park’s “claim to fame” is the massive cliffs that dominate roughly 24 miles of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline in Calvert County. These cliffs were formed over 10 to 20 million years ago when Southern Maryland was covered by a shallow sea. As the sea receded, the cliffs became exposed and the weather began eroding them. Captain John Smith marked this spot on his 1608 map of the Chesapeake Bay. There is a historical marker 200 feet inside the entrance to the park.

Today, the cliffs contain remains of prehistoric species including sharks, whales, rays and seabirds that were the size of small airplanes! Visitors may search for fossils along various trails. The area under the cliffs is off limits to visitors due to the dangers of falling rocks. Over the years, park visitors have logged fossils from over 600 species.

The park features a sandy beach as well as 13 miles of hiking trails. Horseback riders and cyclists are restricted to the service road only, to help prevent erosion of the wild lands areas.

For those exploring the park on foot, the trails cross through old woods and wetlands with steep sloped ravines in many places. These ravines offer a shady and cool path during summer heat.

The park also offers seasonal fishing and hunting as well as picnic areas and a pavilion that accommodates around 50 people. Picnic tables and grills are available on a first come, first served basis, while the pavilion must be reserved in advance. In addition, there are five youth group camping sites within the park that are available April through October with reservations.

Trail maps and park guide in the links below!