April 2015: Elk Neck State Park

Northeast, Maryland

At Turkey Point the Northeast and Elk rivers have pinched a finger of land in the Upper Chesapeake Bay so violently that it swells to more than 100 feet above the water. The result is Elk Neck State Park, a vibrant mix of sandy beaches, marshlands and hardwood forests.  

There are five main trails at Elk Neck State Park. None is longer than two miles and all can be covered in a leisurely afternoon of canine hiking. The White Trail through the Thackery Swamp is a self-guiding nature trail. The Black Trail skirts the shoreline of the Elk River and the waters of the Chesapeake Bay can be reached from the Blue Trail at Turkey Point. You start your explorations on an old access road high above the waters that soon turns towards the Old Turkey Point Lighthouse. The various footpaths radiate off the main trail across the peninsula.  

A lighthouse was authorized by Congress in 1831 and two years later a tower and keeper’s quarters was situated on a 100-foot bluff where the North East and Elk Rivers converge. Originally, the 35-foot tower had a panel of red glass to warn ships they were approaching the shallows. The beacon was visible for 13 miles and was the highest of 74 lighthouses on the Chesapeake Bay. The keeper’s quarters are gone but the tower and spectacular views remain atop the grassy bluffs.

From I-95 exit onto Route 272 (North East Road)and go south 2.4 miles to Route 7 (East Cecil Avenue). Cross State Route 7, stay on Route 272 and go 11 miles to the end of the road and the park.