Location:

​St. Mary's County in Southern Maryland

Newtowne Neck State Park

c/o Point Lookout State Park
11175 Point Lookout Road
Scotland MD 20687


Contact:

​301-872-5688​


Driving Directions:

Take Route 5 towards Leonardtown. Turn right at the light at the intersection of Route 5 and MD-243 and follow the road for three miles.


Hours of Operation:

​Sunrise to Sunset

Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.


Pet Policy:

Pets are allowed in Newtowne Neck State Park.

Newtowne Neck State Park

Newtowne Neck re-opened for public use on April 21, 2014

The State of Maryland acquired the Newtowne Neck peninsula in 2009 to preserve the area’s rich natural, cultural and historical heritage. The property includes 776 acres of woodlands, wetlandsand agricultural fields, and more than 7 miles of Potomac River shoreline in St. Mary’s County.

The beach at Newtowne Neck State Park

Surrounded by Breton Bay, St. Clements Bay and the Potomac River, public recreational opportunities currently available at the park include hiking, fishing, boating, birdwatching, and other passive outdoor activities.

In January of 2012, the park’s rich history became even more apparent with the discovery of several items of World War II-era military ordnance on or near the shoreline. The discovery led to the closure of the park and an extensive study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into prior uses of the property. Researchers determined that the property was used by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and, later, the United States Navy, for testing of inert test artillery rounds.

Since the initial discoveries, additional ordnance -- both inert test artillery rounds and other military ordnance -- has been located and safely disposed of by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and/or a military Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

Based upon the Corps’ comprehensive research, Newtowne Neck State Park re-opened for public use in April 2014.

Read the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Abbreviated Preliminary Report from May 2014 Report

Despite the findings that only inert test artillery rounds were deployed here, caution and common sense dictate that any ordnance found should be considered potentially dangerous, regardless of appearance or age. These items may be heavily corroded, partially buried, or covered with algae or mud, making them difficult to recognize.

As you enjoy all the peninsula has to offer, the Maryland Park Service urges you to help protect yourself, your family and your community by learning and following the 3Rs of Explosives Safety - recognize, retreat and report.

Archived press release issued July 2, 2013 from the Maryland State Fire Marshall.

You can help shape the future of the park by taking a survey about the possible uses and activities at the Park. Click here to take the survey.

Background

Newtowne Neck State Park was purchased by the State of Maryland in 2009 and promises to become a unique and important addition to Maryland's State Park system. The park's outstanding scenery, water access, gentle topography and significant history offer something for everyone. A peninsula of farm fields, forest and sandy shoreline, it is home to historical events and times that tell the story of Southern Maryland. The Department is committed to working with the local community, stakeholder groups and citizens throughout Maryland to develop a future master plan that will celebrate the natural, cultural, historical and recreational features of the park.

When the property was acquired in 2009, the Department of Natural Resources conducted a initial outreach effort to educate the public and build support for this important land acquisition. This effort involved a facilitated public stakeholder meeting to identify over-arching interpretive themes and recreation development opportunities for Newtowne Neck State Park, as well as two additional Province properties purchased by the State. Click here to read the report.

Initial Master Plan Efforts

The development of a master plan for Newtowne Neck began this spring, after being delayed due to the discovery of World War II era munitions on the shoreline of the State Park in 2012. The Park Service has worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find and remove the munitions and to develop a plan to address any future discoveries. To date, a Newtowne Neck Master Planning Committee has been formed with representatives from the community, St. Francis Xavier Parish, park user groups, and local government officials. The approximately 25 member group includes others with expertise in archaeology, historic interpretation, tourism, recreation, and resource protection. Four formal Committee meetings have been held, and a fifth community meeting at St. Francis Xavier Parish Hall took place on Aug. 18th. The initial meetings included presentations about the Master Plan Process and about the natural and cultural resources at Newtowne Neck.

The next steps in the process are to obtain thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and recommendations about an overall vision for the Park. This will include identifying goals for the Park, desired uses and activities at the Park, and the possible development of buildings, infrastructure, and other amenities at the Park. An open house was held September 27, 2014 where community and County residents and Park visitors participated in the planning process by visiting the Park, talking to Maryland Park service staff, and taking a Newtowne Neck Master Plan Survey.

Next Steps

After the Open House, Maryland Park Service staff will meet with the Newtowne Neck Master Planning Committee to review the public’s comments and recommendations about an overall vision for the Park. Work on the conceptual design program will continue as the Committee evaluates input about the desired uses and activities at the Park and continues to analyze the site’s natural and cultural resources. Ultimately, a suitability map will be developed and will be used to develop one or more concept plan(s). A second public meeting will be held to obtain input from the public on the draft concept plan or plans, so that a single plan can be further refined. This concept plan will become the foundation of the park master plan.

Park staff will work on the concept plan through the winter and early spring and will meet with the Master Planning Committee to refine the master plan. It is anticipated that in early summer of 2015, a draft master plan document will be available for review. After a preliminary internal review, a third public meeting will be scheduled to present the draft plan to the public for comment. These comments will be addressed and the final master plan document will be developed for final approval by the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources next fall.

Park Development

In 2011, the Department secured a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant in anticipation of the need for capital funding to help support future park improvement projects that are identified during the public planning process. The grant was broadly written to maximize flexibility regarding the use of the funds.

 

To date, the Maryland Park Service has made only minimal improvements to Newtowne Neck State Park in order to allow for the community participation process and master planning effort to guide further resource analysis, recreation development, and resource restoration activities. Currently the Park includes the following features:

  • An entrance sign, information bulletin board, picnic table, and gravel parking area for several cars (open sunrise to sunset)
  • A natural surface canoe and kayak launch that provides access to a protected cove
  • Access to seven miles of undeveloped shoreline for fishing and wading, much of which consists of a sandy beach
  • A network of unimproved farm roads and trails that provide several miles of hiking and biking
  • Waterfowl hunting to license holders during regulated seasons

The Department anticipates that the public participation process and the work of the Master Planning Committee will result in recommendations for the development of additional passive, outdoor recreation improvements and infrastructure that complement the existing recreation opportunities in the region. Because of the numerous natural and cultural resources on the site, careful analysis, additional studies and surveys, and the guidance and expertise of other State and federal agencies will be a crucial part of the planning, design, and implementation process during the coming years.

Newtowne Neck State Park History

Newtowne Neck State Park is a 776 acre peninsula surrounded by Breton Bay, St. Clements Bay, and the Potomac River. It has seven (7) miles of ecologically and recreationally important waterfront.

Newtowne Neck was home to the Piscataway Native American Tribe and their ancestors for many centuries before its settlement by the colonists. The property, Newtowne Neck, is the site of the first settlement in Maryland after the original settlement in Saint Mary’s City. The original colonists landed on St. Clement’s Island in 1634. In 1640, William Bretton was granted 750 acres from Cecelius Calvert for the Newtowne Neck tract. In 1668, the Society of Jesus acquired the property from William Bretton in exchange for 40,000 pounds of tobacco. William and his wife, Temperance, donated one and one-half acres of their property in 1661 to the Society of Jesus to establish a chapel and cemetery. The property was maintained by the Society of Jesus until they withdrew from the land in 1967 to work in other areas.

The Department of Natural Resources purchased Newtowne Neck in late April of 2009. The land was purchased to protect the waterfront from development. The purchase of Newtowne Neck, provides the ability to preserve diverse natural water and land areas, safeguard wildlife habitats, conserve sustainable forest lands, and protect the quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Newtowne Neck will provide public access to the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail and provide a lasting legacy to future generations of Marylanders.

Newtowne Neck is also designated as the first historic district in St. Mary’s County and is listed on the National Register of Historic places.

Features

Park Hours
Newtowne Neck State Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Maryland State Parks are “Trash Free”. Please practice “Leave No Trace” principles and take your trash with you when you leave. To view these principles visit www.lnt.org. Any questions or concerns, contact Point Lookout State Park at 301-872-5688.

Canoeing and Kayaking
Non-motorized crafts can be walked in and launched from the launch area during regular park hours. Canoes and kayakers can enjoy access to the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail. Also, for more locations to launch your vessel, visit: Scenic Waterways of St. Mary’s County. Know Before you Go!

Fishing
Visitors can fish from designated areas along the shoreline year round from sunrise to sunset. A Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing License is required for persons 16 and older.

Hiking
Enjoy the experience of exploring the natural environment, wildlife and different plant species while hiking and walking on the property. Please remember to be considerate of agricultural crops and naturally sensitive areas to avoid adverse impact to this unique area.

Hunting
Hunting is permitted for deer, upland game, and waterfowl from December 15, 2014 through February 4, 2015 in accordance with the conditions in the Newtowne Neck State Park – Interim Hunting Plan for the 2014 – 2015 Season. Contact Point Lookout State Park at 301-872-5688 for further details.

Birding
Enjoy the opportunities to visit some unique birding Barns at Newtowne Neck State Parkhabitats including tidal shorelines, forest, hedgerows, meadows and agricultural fields. The Maryland Ornithological Birding checklist may help you document those birds you see at Newtowne Neck State Park.

Picnicking
A limited number of picnic tables are available on a first come first served basis at the day use area.

Maryland Conservation Corps
Newtowne Neck State Park is supported by a Maryland Conservation Corps Program. The Maryland Conservation Corps (MCC) is an AmeriCorps program that engages young adults, ages 17-25, who want to dedicate a year of service to natural resource conservation. Over a ten to 11-month period, MCC members work as crews to complete 1,700 hours of service. Conservation service activities include: trail maintenance, environmental education, stream & wetland restoration, park facility improvements, invasive species removal and Bay grass planting. Extensive member training is provided, including: First Responder certification, Wildland Fire Fighting certification, Search and Rescue certification, Park Operations, Environmental Education and Interpretation, Chainsaw Safety, Leave No Trace and Canoe Trip Leading.

No minimum qualifications are required other than transportation to the designated job site and a desire to serve. Low-cost State Housing is available at certain crew sites. Benefits include a living allowance of $7.00/hour, health care benefits, child care assistance (if eligible) and a $4,725 education scholarship award for those members that complete $1,700 hours of service. MCC employs a Zero Tolerance Policy for any member who uses alcohol or illegal drugs while attending an MCC project, training or event.

For more information or to apply, contact the park manager or download an application from the Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s Maryland Conservation Corps website.

Volunteer
Volunteer opportunities are plentiful at Newtowne Neck. Volunteers can help with special events, site maintenance, and general site operations. For volunteer information call 301-872-5688 and ask for the Volunteer Coordinator.

Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities
For additional accessible amenities in Maryland State Forests and Parks, visit the Accessibility For All section of this website.

Online Services


Contact the Park Service

  • To Report Violations of Park Rules: 1-800-825-7275 (Park Watch) or 1-410-260-8888 (Communications Center)
  • General Information: 1-800-830-3974 (Annapolis Office)
  • Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
  • Email Us