At Elk Neck You Can Explore Cliffs and Beaches in the Same Day

A dirt trail drops off to the left with trees and water to the left
One of the many trails in the park

We discovered Elk Neck State Park in central Maryland over a decade ago when looking for a new place to take camping trips with our family. We have since been back and it is one of my favorite camping spots. Just 75 miles from Philadelphia, it offers multiple terrains and outdoor activities.

a white lighthouse and an adjacent white building
Turkey Point Light Station is on the National Register of Historic Places

 

The park is on a peninsula between the Elk River and the Chesapeake Bay. Encompassing over 2188 acres, its landscape includes beaches, wooded areas, marshes and cliffs, and a big draw for me, a lighthouse. Our first visit, we made the easy hike to the Turkey Point Lighthouse where we could walk around the grounds.

On a return visit, the lighthouse had been restored and we were able to go inside and climb to the top.

 

Given the location of the lighthouse (atop a 100 foot cliff) it is only 35 feet tall, so this doesn’t take very long. The 3rd tallest on the Chesapeake Bay (at 129 feet above the water), Turkey Point has the distinction of having more female lighthouse keepers than any other lighthouse on the Bay.

The park has seven trails, with distances from one to three miles, ranging  from easy to difficult. Bikes are permitted on most of these and most are pet-friendly, as is most of the park. One of these (and one of our favorites), the Beaver Marsh Loop, has to be timed just right to complete the loop.

A shoreline with trees, a sandy beach and a section of boulders. A dog and people are on the beach.
This section of the Beaver Marsh Loop is sometimes under water

Part of the trail goes along the shore, which is underwater at high tide. The Elk Neck also has day use areas and a boat launch and offers youth programs, such as the Junior Ranger Program as well as seasonal programming.

Campsite fees vary and reservations are recommended, especially for holiday weekends. There is a per vehicle day use fee for the park, as well as a boat launch fee, with discounted rates for Maryland residents.