8 am-dusk for hiking and bicycling, Sundays 10 am-3 pm for driving
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.
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 Visitor's Center, and guided programs are available by reservation.
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 a buffer area around tidal waters and the development of comprehensive, local guidelines to ensure long-term protection of the natural assets of the Bay.