Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Experiences

Top 5 Parks to Visit in Charles County Maryland If You Love the Outdoors

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WPUNJ chapter.
  1. Smallwood State Park – Marbury, Maryland

This beautiful park has something for everyone in the family to do. The park is a little from the main road, but it’s a beautiful drive in my opinion. Even though you are off the main road, you don’t feel super isolated in this park. When you go through the gate, you become surrounded with green coming from every direction. As you go down the road you can either decide to turn left or go straight. If you go left you will stumble upon the old buildings that used to house General Smallwood.  People can now opt to stay in different cabins built on the property if they want to enjoy the full outdoor experience. If you continue straight down the road, you will find a giant parking lot to your right and a small one that dead ends at the water. The park has multiple piers to sit on or fish off, as well as plenty of space to put a boat into the water. The park has many trails to offer that take you through the woods and around the property to take in the beauty of Charles County Maryland. There is also a bridge connecting the space where the cabins are to where the piers are that is fun to look off of or to take pictures on. During the fishing season there is a snack bar that is open where you can purchase things like ice cream and chips. If you have little ones, they even have a big playground for them to play on and an education center that hosts some events during the summer. During the pandemic me and my friends or family went down to hike the trails or sit on the pier and eat lunch. I enjoy watching the sunset, so if you like taking pictures or taking in the sky as it turns to night this park is your place to go.

2. Piscataway National Park (Marshall Hall Boat Landing) – Bryans Road, Maryland

From drives with my family when I was younger to when I was able to drive, this has been my favorite place to go to. Some might not think it’s super exciting but to me it is my quiet spot to escape to when I want a break from my everyday life. This park has two parts but since I am focusing on Charles County, I will only talk about the Marshall Hall Road part. This national park is at the dead end of a long road called Marshall Hall Road. It’s a straight road but such a peaceful drive as you know you’re going to see a beautiful place at the end. When you reach the end, the road starts to get progressively worse with the bumps but if you ignore that, you will see a road lined with symmetrical trees leading to mansion ruins on your right. These ruins are from the Marshall family that originally lived on the property. After the house was sold, the land turned into an amusement park in the 1970s, which I would have loved to see. The park had roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, a swimming pool, and an ice rink. Now you can only see the mansion ruins and a cemetery of the Marshall family left behind. To the left is where it dead ends at the water. It has 2 boat ramps so it’s great to go out and fish. But the best part is the wooden pier. I love sitting on the pier and just taking in the view around me. If you look out far enough to the right while on the pier you can see Mount Vernon where George Washington lived which is pretty cool. For our nature lovers the best thing to do when you go to Marshall Hall is to just take in the view and relax by the Potomac River and take some snapshots of the old ruins. It’s a place where you will find yourself being drawn back into the park again and again to truly understand how wonderful it is

3. Chapel Point State Park Port – Tobacco, Maryland

Out of every park I will list, this one is the most out of the way. It’s off Chapel Point Road, which is a twisty, winding road. But after going through all of that, you can enjoy a little beach area during low tide. They also have camping sites and a hunting area. My favorite thing about Chapel Point is what is next to it. St. Ignatius is an old church that is up on the top of the hill at the bend coming north of Chapel Point State Park. It’s a gorgeous spot to enjoy the sunset or even the sky at any time. I often park in the parking lot and sit on a bench where I can overlook the Port Tobacco River and the boats that are in it.

4. Douglas Point – Nanjemoy, Maryland

I love going to Douglas Point. It’s really great for people who like to go on trails. You take a long, winding road down to get to the park and you have a choice of multiple trails through the woods. If you like abandoned ruins, Douglas Point is the place to go. Like many other places in Charles County, Douglas Point has some leftover structures from the house that used to be on the land that you can see while you trek your way down to the water. Douglas Point has a small beach that, like Chapel Point, disappears during high tide, so make sure to plan out beforehand if you intend on going. Douglas Point is perfect to take a beach day at and enjoy the weather while hanging out with family. My family often enjoys going there and looking for shark teeth and shells.

  1. Friendship Farm Park (Friendship Farm Landing) – Nanjemoy, Maryland

Friendship Farm is the one out of this list that is the most focused on the trails rather than the water views. There are many different trails to choose from at this park that you can either use by hiking, biking, or horseback riding. This park is an animal friendly one, so animal lovers are welcome. Once again, like almost every place on this list, Friendship Farm has the old structure ruins still in place for visitors to see and learn about the history. The park also has open fields where visitors can play multiple different types of sports or games and a baseball field. The road going into the park dead ends at a boat ramp and pier for visitors to be able to take a boat out and fish or just sit and enjoy the weather. My favorite trail goes along the water to the right of the boat ramp. You go through tall grass along the water to the uphill route through the mesmerizing hills of the park where you can admire the wildlife and flowers it has to offer.

I hope that after reading this article you will discover that Charles County has lots to offer for the nature lovers. I wanted to share some of my favorite places I frequently visited when I lived in Charles County for 17 years, and I hope I convinced you to either visit the county and some of these beautiful and magical parks.

Class of 2026. music, poetry, animals, traveling, and driving <3