After the Thursday’s Thanksgiving, on Friday brother Ed came up with the idea for a visit to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. It is only a 15-minute drive from DC and 30 minutes from Alexandria, Virginia where most of the gang was staying. Getting out and moving around was just what we needed.

I hadn’t heard of this place and looked it up. Here is how the sanctuary is described on its website:

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary (JBWS or Sanctuary) is located within the tidal reaches of the Patuxent River, in southern Anne Arundel County. It was established in 1985 and is operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks. The Sanctuary protects about 1,700 acres of unique tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, creeks, meadows, pine and sand barrens, and fields along the Patuxent River. This protected land provides a safe haven for a high diversity of plants, insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and microbes, and to rich Native American cultural resources.

Getting to Jug Bay

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is located at 1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711.  The phone number is 
410-222-8006.  The best method for finding the sanctuary is to use a map app on your phone.  The website also provides written directions from Washington, D.C., Annapolis, MD, the Baltimore Beltway and Calvert County, MD.  As you approach the sanctuary the road becomes very narrow and eventually looks like an unpaved private drive.  Just keep going.  Don’t get discouraged.

The tiny road leads to a good sized parking lot at the Visitor’s Center. 

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There is plenty to see in and around the parking lot.  Paw Paw Pavilion, a shelter with picnic tables, is located in a field next to the parking lot.  It is used for educational programs, community events, and private family activities. 

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Paw Paw Pavilion from the parking lot.


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Parking lot signage

Visitors Center   

As far as hours of operation, the sanctuary is open to the public from 09:00 to 17:00 on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (but closed on Sundays Dec-Feb). 

We began at the visitors center where visitors pay the very reasonable $6 per car entry fee.


The Visitors Center has a trove of information about the sanctuary and the flora and fauna it supports. There is also a large conference room that can be rented.



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Jug Bay is part of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Trail maps can be scanned and download at the Visitors Center and paper copies are available as well.

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Trail map for the Sanctuary Proper
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All trails

Otter Point Trail Loop Hike

The temperature was in the lower 40sF (about 6C) with strong wind gusts. We opted to hike the Otter Point Loop (Otter Point Trail to Two Run Trail and back to the Visitors Center via the Utility Road). Subtracting the Railroad Bed Trail from the full 2.2 mile loop and adding the boardwalk detour, I estimate the length at close to 1.5 miles (about 2.4 km).

Other than the strong wind, it was a beautiful day in the sanctuary. We checked out the view from the observation deck and then set out on the Otter Point Trial.

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Observation deck view.

Throughout the hike leaf-covered trails provided firm footing.

Otter Point Trail near the visitors center.

We left the Otter Point Trail briefly to take in the views of the marsh from the boardwalk.  (Click photos to enlarge and scroll over photos for captions.)

From the boardwalk we skipped the Railroad Bed Trail and continued on Otter Point Trail to Otter Point. If it had been a little warmer, the Railroad Bed Trail, which extends across the marsh to the Patuxent River, would have been fun to explore.

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Otter Point Trail view.

We stopped to admire the views from Otter Point and to grab the obligatory group photos.

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Jug Bay from Otter Point
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About the only noteworthy wildlife on this day was this Great Blue Herron (I think) at Otter Point.

I missed the shot in the photo below, but a gull with its head into the wind and warping its wings expertly was hovering motionless just above the water.  It is surprising that brilliant people of ancient times observed such things without getting some idea of what was going on.

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The face mask was for warmth 😊

A sign at Otter Point notes the presence of indigenous people in this area dating back at least 13,000 years. Europeans first explored the area in 1608. Non-native populations began settling here by 1650.

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We continued from Otter Point on Two Run Trail.  The Otter Point Trail loop is marked with Yellow blazes.


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We picked up Two Run Trail at Otter Point

Two Run Trail passes an old beaver pond and then turns inland.

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Beaver pond. Several points along the loop offer audio and visual information by scanning a QR code.

Soon after the Beaver Pond, the trail takes a detour. The reason quickly becomes apparent.

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The detour was to avoid a fallen tree that was precariously suspended over the trail.

Trees in this forest are huge, and some have succumbed to age and the elements.

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Two Run Trail continues through a forest and connects with the Railroad Bed Trail.

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The Otter Point Loop is very flat except for a small hill near the intersection of Two Run and Railroad Bed Trails.

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Shortly after the steps Two Run Trail connects to the Utility Road trail back to the visitors center.

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Back at meadow by the parking lot. The anemometer was getting a workout.

This was a great way to get the body moving again after the Thanksgiving feast!

Overall Impression

I highly recommend a visit to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary for those live in or are visiting the metro Washington D.C. area. We enjoyed immensely the views and experience on our short hike in November. I would expect that the sanctuary is even more impressive when the marsh plants are actively growing.

Thanks for taking a look at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. Have a great weekend!