Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Tour

Hours of Operation

8 am-dusk for hiking and bicycling, Sundays 10 am-3 pm for driving

Want to learn more about the Bay and the Patuxent River? We suggest hiking, biking, or driving the four-mile route that makes up the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Tour. The roadway is open daily for hiking and bicycling, and open Sundays for vehicles from 10 am to 3 pm year round.

A Family riding there bikes

The tour connects Jug Bay Natural Area with Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary and features educational displays, observation towers and a 1,000-foot long wooden bridge across the marsh. Visitors can pick up a self-guided tour brochure from the Patuxent River Visitor's Center, and guided programs are available by reservation.

A cooperative project between M-NCPPC and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, this project was a result of the Chesapeake Bay Initiative. The Chesapeake Bay Protection Program, passed in 1984, required each local jurisdiction bordering the Bay and its tributaries to develop a program to protect natural resources, shorelines and water quality. The Critical Area Criteria called for restrictions on shoreline development, designation for a buffer area around tidal waters and the development of comprehensive, local guidelines to ensure long-term protection of the natural assets of the Bay.


Located near Jug Bay Natural Area

From Route 301 in Upper Marlboro, turn onto Route 382 (Croom Road). Go 4 miles and turn left onto Croom Airport Road. Follow signs to the tour