Cash Lake Loop, Patuxent Research Refuge

Laurel, Maryland 20708

Cash Lake Loop, Patuxent Research Refuge

Cash Lake Loop, Patuxent Research Refuge Professional Review and Guide

"A walk through pine forests and near marshy lakes in an area that is arguably the wildest place within 75 miles of Washington, D.C. Follow the wide path through pine and hardwoods dominated by beech and red oak. The odd-looking cuts in the forest you pass are remnants of research on the regeneration of forest species.

Special considerations: Because the area is managed for wildlife research, Zero Impact Hiking is especially important. No picnicking is allowed along the trail. Bring some water, but leave the food at home. Spring rains and heavy rains sometimes make the south section of Cash Lake impassable. When this is the case, after visiting the fishing pier, retrace your steps to continue your hike via the northern section. Also, the south side of Cash Lake Trail is closed mid-October to mid-June to provide undisturbed lakeshore for wintering and nesting waterfowl."

Cash Lake Loop, Patuxent Research Refuge Reviews

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The Fire Road trail was closed "due to hunting." While we didn't encounter any hunters, it seemed mgmt wanted to keep you close to the lake. This cut off a bit of our planned route. Trail in good shape, our dogs had a swell time.
Nothing mind-blowing, very easy walk with little wildlife and a bunch of people, but other than that a pleasant walk in the woods. I found it to be a very nice hour-long diversion as opposed to a serious dayhike, but still a good way to blow off some quick steam.
We only spent an hour here, but the brief glimpse into the lovely woods and interesting research being done at this center was enough to make us want to come back soon. In our brief time exploring the trails midday, we didn't see any wildlife, but the plaques informed us a lot about the habitats and behaviours of all kinds of animals--waterfowl, beavers, amphibians, etc. It would be a great place for young kids, because they can learn so much good information, and you can take a quick hike and loop back to the nature center where there are good facilities. For a wildlife preserve so close to DC, it truly is impressive. The trails are not open to bikes, but there are many roads in the area that would be good to ride, so you could ride in and lock up and hike around. I like the quiet, low-impact atmosphere. Though there was a good number of people, there was an atmosphere of respect for mother earth. Of course, you have to overlook the huge powerlines looming in the distance. A lot of the work there seems to be funded by PEPCO, the electric utility?

Cash Lake Loop, Patuxent Research Refuge Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
September - May
Patuxent Research Refuge, National Wildlife Visitor Center
Local Contacts
USGS Laurel, Maryland
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018