After the heatwave we experienced through most of July, I finally had a chance to get up to Terrapin Nature Park in Stevensville, Maryland. This has been my go to spot for socially distanced walks during the pandemic because it is a good midway point between myself on the Eastern Shore and any friends of mine on the Western Shore. Since mid-2020, I’ve met up with several friends to walk the bike path and trails that start in the park and wind their way around Kent Island.
On my most recent trip, I enjoyed the trails but also hit the beach for the first time. Back when I had visited in August of 2021, I was amazed at how many cars there were lining the road leading up to the park as I was leaving. That was when I realized that there was waterfront access in the form of a beach within the park.
The walk to the beach is a little on the long side, maybe ½ mile or so. Because this is a nature park, shade umbrellas, canopies, coolers, and alcohol are not allowed in the park, so be prepared. The trails are not well labeled, so it’s a good idea to take a look at the park map so you have a rough idea of what direction to head. The beach itself is relatively small, with only 10 feet of beach or so at high tide, but the water is calm and the view was quintessential Chesapeake Bay.
The water gradually slopes out deeper and there are some smooth stones around the low tide line but I had no problem going barefoot. Once I was maybe 75 feet out from the beach, I was in chest deep water. Even on a hot day when I was expecting bath water, the water temperature felt great. I didn’t see any sea nettles (jellyfish) but I did get a minor sting on my leg so they were definitely out there. However, it was so minor it wasn’t until I was back at my car that I finally decided it was, in fact, a sea nettle sting.
I definitely recommend this park if you’re looking for a good place to take a long stroll as I’ve walked for an hour and never even come close to the end of the path. Specifically, the Cross Island Trail is the paved bike path that will take you the length of Kent Island and can be seen as you drive along Rt. 50. This would also be a great spot for a longer run if you’re training for a long race, such as the Bridge to Bay 10K or a half marathon. It’s pretty flat and winds along some neighborhoods and a sports park before becoming an elevated boardwalk above the marsh near Kent Narrows.
Terrapin Nature Park has an off-street parking lot but it does fill up quickly later in the afternoon on weekdays and in the morning on summer weekends. In the early days of the pandemic, when I first visited the park, there was only a port-a-potty in terms of restroom facilities, but there are now shiny, new multi-stall bathrooms with running water for park goers. They are rustic though so be prepared for lots of bugs in the restrooms, including mosquitoes.
Shortly after you leave the parking area, you’ll walk alongside a nice grassy area with several picnic tables and grill stands. It does not look like you need to reserve these, though you might want to call the contact number for the park if you’re interested in using them. You can find more information about the park and its amenities here. This definitely looks like a great spot to relax and have a picnic or cookout.
Sometimes it’s fun to go on a big adventure somewhere flashy but it’s also nice to take a relaxing trip somewhere quiet and less touristy. While lots of people seem to use this park for the beach on the weekends, when I go in the mornings, it’s relatively empty, which makes me think not a lot of folks know about this gem of a park.
Regardless of what type of adventure you like to go on, with school about to start back up, this is the time to get out and explore!