Visiting Patuxent Research Refuge – North Tract

Below is a combined driving and walking tour of the Patuxent Research Refuge – North Tract. The indications of North and South inside of the North Tract are a little deceptive as the main road is a loop and my directions are relative to the loop.

This tour could be done in a day, but it could be over 5 miles of walking and is definitely about 10 miles of driving.

The bird activity is seasonal and may even depend on the time of day and the temperature. With or without the birds, it is a beautiful area.

This post will be revised to add photos and make corrections.

  1. Entrance
    1. The nature center is located at:
    2. 230 Bald Eagle Dr, Laurel, MD 20724
    3. Website – 
    5. The traffic is pretty fast, so when you see the equipment center get in the right lane and slow down quickly.
    6. The entrance is right before the baseball field and Little Patuxent bridge.
  2. Visitor’s Center
    2. Drive down approximately a mile to the Visitor’s Center.
    3. Sign in.
    4. Ask if Lake Allen is closed.
    5. Ask if there is hunting today.
    6. Ask about any other closures.
    7. Note all warnings to stay on the designated trail or streets.
  3. Patuxent Overlook
    1. Before going to the bird feeders, walk out to the Patuxent Overlook to see the beautiful view of the Little Patuxent.
  4. Bird Feeders on Left Side of Center (Looking at the Entrance Door)
    1. As you walk back to the center, of the left back side of the center and you will find bird feeders, including hummingbird feeders.
    2. Based on my pictures, the hummingbirds were there in July and August.
  5. Bird Feeders Across the Street from the Center
    1. Walk across the street to the Nature Habitat and check out the bird feeders.
    2. You will hear a lot of birds and it has been difficult for me to see them in the trees.
    3. But those bird feeders are perfect because the food attracts the birds.
  6. Bailey’s Bridge, Little Patuxent River, South, East
    2. Leave the parking lot and make a left turn onto Bald Eagle Drive.
    3. At the stop sign make a right turn onto the Wildlife Loop South and drive all the way to Bailey’s Bridge, approximately 5.5 miles.
    4. Park in the parking lot which is before the bridge on the right side.
    5. Start walking in the direction of the bridge.
    6. I have spotted an eagle on the south side (on the right side walking from the parking lot) of the bridge.
    7. Walk down the road for some beautiful forest pictures.
    8. Return to the bridge and check out the north side of the bridge.
    9. Walk up the road some and enjoy the views.
  7. Cattail Pond
    2. Drive back towards the visitor’s center and in about a mile you will see Cattail Pond.
    3. Park and walk around the trail. (We haven’t walked around the whole trail yet.)
  8. New Marsh
    2. Drive back towards the visitor’s center and in about a mile you will see New Marsh.
    3. Park and walk around the trail. (We haven’t walked around the whole trail yet.)
  9. Duvall Bridge Rd/Telegraph Road – South Side – We didn’t t do this route yet.
    2. We have walked on this trail starting on the northern side.
    3. We plan to walk from the south side approximately 1 mile up.
  10. Rieve’s Pond
    1. Drive back towards the visitor’s center.
    2. Park at South Road.
    4. Walk down the road until you see the fork int he road and make a right turn.
    6. Rieve’s Pond will be on the left side.
    7. Walk around the Rieve’s Pond trail.
    8. We have seen a crane here once a long time ago.
  11. Vernal Pools
    1. Drive back towards the visitor’s center.
      1. We normally park at Merganser Pond and walk to this location.
    2. Park on the side of the road at the Vernal Pools.
    3. Walk up to the bench to view the area.
    4. Walk through the trails after you see the view from the bench.
  12. Merganser Pond
    2. Drive back back towards the visitor’s center.
    3. Turn right into the Merganser Pond area.
    4. There is a parking lot right beside the pond or at the Education Center.
    5. View the pond.
    6. We have seen turtles, Mergansers, Geese, Cranes, Egrets, a Kingfisher, and Tree Swallows and more in and around the pond.
    7. The Tree Swallows hag out in the bird feeders.
  13. Merganser Pond Trail
    1. Look for the Merganser Pond Trail sign.
    2. Walk around the trail.
    3. This is a forest area.
    4. The trail ends on the Wildlife Viewing Area Drive which takes you to the Education Center and back to Merganser Pong.
    5. At the trails end where the road starts you will see a “marsh” on the left as you walk the road.
    6. We have seen turtles in this area.
    7. We have also seen this area be drained (maybe for maintenance) and on 5/21/2022 look like it is almost full.
  14. Telegraph Road – North Side
    3. Drive back back towards the visitor’s center and pass it.
    4. You are now on Wildlife Loop North
    5. Look for Telegraph Road on the right.
    6. At Telegraph Road, park along the road.
    7. Walk for approximately one mile.
    8. We have walked here once and this is mostly forest.
  15. Little Patuxent River Trail
    2. Drive away from the Visitor’s Center.
    3. Look for the Little Patuxent River Trail on the left.
    4. At the Little Patuxent River Trail, park along the road.
    5. Walk down to the trail boardwalk which is a loop.
    6. You will see the Little Patuxent as you walk along the trail.
  16. Little Patuxent Bridge (North side)
    1. Drive away from the Visitor’s Center.
    2. Cross the bridge.
    3. Park in the little area on the left just after the bridge.
    4. Walk to the bridge and enjoy the view on both sides.
    5. We have seen eagles, vultures, tree swallows, and wood peckers off of this bridge.
  17. American Sycamore Tree
    1. Walk back past your car and go about 50 feet.
    2. On the right there is a trail that leads to a huge tree where the top has been broken off.
    3. The huge broken part is the first thing you will see with the rest of the tree on the left of it.
    4. Walk down into that trail and enjoy the view.
  18. Pine Trail and Cemetery
    2. Drive away from the Visitor’s Center.
    3. Look for the first Pine Trail sign.
    4. Park on the side of the road.
    5. Walk up to the cemetery.
    6. Continue waling on the trail until it brings you back to the road.
    7. This is more of a forest trail with no water.
    8. Return to your car.
  19. Lake Allen
    1. Follow the signs as this map location may not be exact.
    2. The lake/trail can frequently be closed. Be sure to check with the Visitor’s Center.
    4. Drive away from the Visitor’s Center.
    5. The final destination is Lake Allen.
    6. Make a right into the entrance for Lake Allen.
    7. Continue down the road which is about .5 miles.
    8. When you see the water, you can park off the road.
    9. You could also continue around to the other parking areas.
    10. We usually park at the large stone by the first bridge.
    11. Walk around the lake trail.





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