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A shallow sea once covered all of southern Maryland. When it receded twenty to twenty-five million years ago, the steep shoreline now known as Calvert Cliffs were exposed and began to erode. They're still eroding today (making them dangerous to walk on), continually revealing the East Coast's largest assemblage of fossils.
Calvert Cliffs State Park Professional Review and Guide
"A shallow sea once covered all of southern Maryland. When it receded twenty to twenty-five million years ago, the steep shoreline now known as Calvert Cliffs were exposed and began to erode. They're still eroding today (making them dangerous to walk on), continually revealing the East Coast's largest assemblage of fossils."
--Bill and Mary Burnham, Best Hikes Near Washington D.C. (Falcon Guides).
More Calvert Cliffs State Park Professional Reviews and Guides
"Calvert Cliffs State Park is a unique place in southern Maryland, known for its shoreline cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay where you and your kids can pretend to be archaeologists and search for fossils."
--Jennifer Chambers , Best Hikes with Kids: Washington, DC, the Beltway & Beyond (The Mountaineers Books).
"Famous for the abundance of fossils and prehistoric shark teeth found along the sandy beaches of the Chesapeake Bay, Calvert Cliffs State Park is a popular destination for hikers and beachcombers alike. The main hiking trail to the beach offers visitors a wonderland of almost mystical beauty as it passes through wetlands and forest. This 1,400-acre park in southern Maryland features beaches flanked by sedimentary cliffs dating back to the Miocene era, about 6–20 million years ago.
People can access the beach either by boat or by hiking the trails leading to the shoreline. The most direct route is the Red Trail, a 1.8-mile trek from the Calvert Cliffs State Park entrance. Along the way, you’ll pass protected marshlands peppered with water lilies, submerged tree trunks, and reeds. The marshlands provide a thriving habitat for turtles, bullfrogs, ducks, and a number of bird species."
--Renee Sklarew and Rachel Cooper , 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Washington, DC (Menasha Ridge Press).
"A hike through forest and bog down to the Chesapeake Bay where fossils are abundant below the sandstone cliffs. Calvert Cliffs State Park is unique among hiking opportunities in the region for its up-close views of the Calvert Cliffs from below, fossil hunting opportunities, and hiker-only access to the Chesapeake shoreline along a mile of sandy beach. The cliffs and the shores below contain more than 600 species of fossils from the Miocene epoch, more than ten million years ago. The cliffs were formed when southern Maryland was under a shallow sea. Adding to the pleasure: Foraging for fossils on the sandy beach is permitted —but no digging. Kids love it. Pair the trip to Calvert Cliffs with a visit to St. Michael’s or Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, and you have a great day of wandering. Special considerations: About half the park is open to hunting in various seasons, including spring turkey season. Check at the kiosk for schedule. There is no hunting along the red trail to the beach."
--David Edwin Lillard, Hiking Maryland & Delaware (Falcon Guides).
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