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.
Established in 1986, 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 Visitors Center. Horses are not allowed on the bridge.
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 buffer area around tidal waters, and the development of comprehensive, local guidelines to ensure long-term protection of the natural assets of the Bay.
Hours of Operation
Open 8 am to dusk for hiking and bicycling;
Sundays 10 am to 3 pm for driving.