Nanjemoy, MD – One often hears it said that despite the fact that Southern Maryland is surrounded by water, there is very little water access.

That isn’t exactly true. It’s just that sometimes you have to drive a while to find it.

The Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area on the western shore of Charles County takes a while to reach off Route 224, but it is more than worth packing a picnic lunch for and the time it takes to get there.

It’s about 1,270 acres of land stretching along the Potomac River, 540 acres of which are open for hiking and exploring.

In December 2000, a memorandum of understanding was established between a hefty group: The U.S. Department of the Interior, The Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States; the State of Maryland, The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Charles County Commissioners designating the land for recreation, wildlife habitat and cultural resources.

The Douglas Point tract contains magnificent hardwood forests, and that is no boast. There are three main hiking trails, two for Douglas Point and another designated the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area which has some of the best beach access imaginable.

Visitors scour the shoreline for shark’s teeth and other fossils dating from the Miocene Period, roughly 11 million years ago.

The hike to the beach entrance is less than a mile and the trail is scoured clean and offers a broad path free of debris. The beach, especially at low tide, is excellent for fossil hunting, and stretches a long way in either direction.

The Douglas Point Trails, especially the northernmost trail, opens near an array of steep cliffs, rife with fossilized remains from the Miocene.

The Douglas Point hike is fun going down, a little more work coming back as it is uphill all the way. But one fork of the trail leads to the Historic Chiles Homesite. The twin chimneys are all that remain. The site dates to the mid-19th century.

There are interesting aspects to Douglas Point. During the American Civil War, the point was an encampment site for 25,000 Union troops. Its history dates back to Colonial Maryland and Thomas Stone, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, once owned the property.

So if you’re looking for a place to hike with astounding beach access and don’t mind driving a little ways to get there, consider the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area for your next hiking excursion.

Be aware that hunting is allowed on the property in the fall and winter months, so citizens should be cognizant of when hunting seasons are in full swing and respond accordingly.

The good news is, I’ve taken three hikes there and to date, no ticks! The trick is stay on the path. If you get off to one side or the other, you are likely to pick up hitchhikers. Stay on the straight and narrow.

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Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com