Middle Patuxent Environmental Area
- Size: 1,021 acres
- Habitat: Mostly upland deciduous
woods with scattered remnant pines and Middle Patuxent River
floodplain; eight-acre warm-season grass meadow; second-growth
and edge; steep slopes; several small ponds; an extensive wooded
wet area; Cricket Creek plus 16 smaller tributaries; and openings
created by sewer lines. Portions are managed for American
- Best Months: Spring and fall bring
the widest variety of species; summer produces a diversity of
nesting birds along with numerous species of butterflies and
- Coverage Time: From an hour or two to
a long half day.
- Trails/Paths: Trails are concentrated
in the central section of the property: Wildlife Loop Trail (2.5
miles, with red metal markers), South Wind Trail (2.3 miles, with
blue metal markers), and a Connector Trail (0.6 mile, with orange
metal markers). The round metal markers are attached to square
wooden posts or trees.
- Notable Birds: Wild Turkey,
Mississippi Kite, Merlin, Virginia Rail, American Woodcock,
Long-eared Owl, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied
Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Black-capped
Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Bicknell's
Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, American Redstart, Prothonotary
Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Summer Tanager,
Vesper Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Red-Crossbill, Pine
- Amenities: A few widely scattered
benches along the trails. No restrooms.
- Handicapped Access: Most of the MPEA
is not handicapped-accessible, although a short section at the
entrance to each main trail is level and either grass or gravel.
Parts of all trails are rough and contain steep slopes; portions
along the river may contain standing water after heavy rains.
Paved Columbia Association (CA) paths originating in
neighborhoods adjoining the MPEA allow some access, but some
sections are hilly. Consult a CA pathways map.
- Operation and Hours: Howard County
parkland; dawn to dusk or as posted.
- Special Attractions: Displaying
American Woodcock in early spring; also, a prime county location
for migrant and breeding thrushes. The two major trails contain
numbered signposts at points of interest keyed to a brochure
available at each entrance kiosk.
Compiler: Ward Ebert