When I first moved to Maryland, the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge was my favorite place to hike! It’s small but it’s such a great place to see wildlife. It’s always peacefully quiet and feels like you’re miles away from the hustle and bustle. There’s one main trail that follows along the lake which is very popular with fisherman and birdwatchers. This refuge is so serene and there’s even a nice visitor center with activities for the whole family. And when you’re done taking in the scenery, pop over to Jailbreak Brewing which offers refreshing brews and a full kitchen. This is the perfect afternoon hike & hop combo!
THE HIKE: Patuxent Wildlife Refuge – South Tract
Length: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 50 ft
Time: 45 mins
Trail use: Hiking, running, leashed pets
Parking: Very large parking lot at the visitor’s center
The Patuxent Wildlife Refuge is run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and has been open since 1936. It is maintained as a sanctuary for biodiversity and for researching wildlife. Thankfully, it’s also open to the public! There are three main areas. The North Tract is the newest section, previously a military testing site that was incorporated into the refuge in the early 90’s. The Central Tract is not open to the public due to the sensitive nature of research conducted here. In the South Tract area, there’s a large parking lot and visitor center with interpretive exhibits that will be popular with the whole family. Today’s hike is in the South Tract!
I really like this park because despite its short trails, it offers so many different landscapes. The main trail takes you through the woods and along Cash Lake. There’s a floating bridge that crosses the lake, giving you a close up of the sea of lily pads. This is also a great place to view some large birds of prey! We’ve even seen a bald eagle roosting on one of the birds nest stands. The trail is very flat so it’s a good spot for people of all abilities. There are some sections with raised tree roots so be careful! Along the path there are many benches to stop and take in the scenery.
THE BEER: Jailbreak Brewing Company
Address: 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop, Laurel, MD 20708
Distance from Trail Head: 10 miles, 20 mins
Food?: Full Kitchen
H&H Rating: 5/5
Opening in 2014, Jailbreak Brewing Company was Howard County’s first production brewery! My partner and I used to live in Laurel and we were here all the time. Jailbreak has delicious brews that you can find all over the state. They feature a solid line of headliners and also have unique seasonal offerings. For this visit, we were excited to introduce the brewery to some of our family and friends. Needless to say, there was a lot of sampling going on! Jailbreak also offers a full bar menu as well as wine. We stuck to beer and were able to taste most of the menu. What are friends for right? My fav of the night was definitely the Hey, Porter! I also always like the headliner amber ale, The Infinite.
One of my favorite things about Jailbreak is that they also have a full menu. And let me tell you, it’s really, really good! They have pizza, tacos, and sandwiches. I’ve tried a lot of the menu and there really hasn’t been anything I didn’t like. This time I had the fried chicken sandwich and it was pretty much life changing.
- Last Chance to Throw Out Ideas for the Collab Beer Name – Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout – 12.8%
- Dry Hopped Saison – Saison – 6.2%
- Logger: Pre-Prohibition Lager – Lager – 5.8%
- Hey, Porter! – Porter – 7.4%
- The Infinite – Amber Ale – 5%
SUM UP: Long before Hikes & Hops was official, this was one of our original combos. The Patuxent Wildlife Refuge is small but mighty, offering beautiful views over Cash Lake and lots of opportunities to see wildlife. Doing the full loop around the lake will give you about a 2 mile stretch of the legs, with the opportunity to add on another mile through the woods if wanted. There’s ample parking here with a large visitor center. Afterward, head into Laurel to warm up with a brew and a bite at Jailbreak Brewing Company. They have a large variety of beers, as well as cocktails and wine. Jailbreak is everything you could want in a brewery!