Calvert Cliffs should absolutely be your next hiking trip. While January might not seem like prime beach time, icy beaches are stunning in their own way! Calvert Cliff can get really busy in the summer so I highly encourage you to try something new and check it out in the winter. We went on an absolutely frigid day and I was blown away by how gorgeous the icy beach was. And the best part is you can warm up with a hot meal and a cold brew at the Ruddy Duck in Lusby. What a perfect way to check out Southern Maryland!
THE HIKE: Calvert Cliffs – Orange and Red Loop
Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 282 ft
Time: 2-2.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: Large parking lots. $5 per vehicle. Often reaches capacity in summer
Calvert Cliffs is a very popular state park that features hiker-only access to a beach. You may have heard about this beach for its fossil hunting! According to the State Park website, over 600 fossil species have been identified on the beach. Fossil hunting is a very popular activity here and is lots of fun for kids and adults alike!
This park had been on my Maryland hiking bucket list for ages but it had always seemed so far out of the way. I’m here to tell you that no matter the drive, it’s absolutely worth it! We chose to go off-season as the park often fills up in the summer. Be sure to check the State Park’s social media before heading out in the summer to check if the park is still open to visitors! There is an entrance fee of $5 per vehicle ($7 for out of state) and it is cash only.
The easiest route to the beach is the 1.8 mile Red trail. It’s a fairly flat path which makes it easy to bring a picnic to the beach for the day! If you’re looking for more of a hike, you can follow the loop we did. We started out with the Orange trail which was more moderate and meandered through the woods. It lets out at the beach where we spent a while looking at shells and the awesome ice formations. My favorite spot was a huge driftwood tree that was just covered in icicles. There’s just something so incredible about seeing a place that you usually associate with hot sunny days being covered in ice and snow. We walked back along the Red trail which was an easier route to end with and had lots of boardwalks along the marshy water. Be warned, these trails are probably quite muggy in the warm months!
Overall I really loved this hike. I’m so grateful for J who insisted that we do this hike even though I wasn’t feeling the long drive. We ended up having a fantastic time and even took a drive through the small town of Solomon’s Island afterward. Not much was open in January but it was still so cute! If you go back in the spring or summer, check out Lotus Kitchen. We heard from a local that it has the best Key Lime Pie in the world. I guess that means we have to come back! No complaints from me
THE BEER: Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grille
Address: 13200 Dowell Rd, Dowell, MD 20629
Distance from Trail Head: 4 miles, 7 mins
Food?: Full Menu
H&H Rating: 3/5
Less than 10 minutes away from Calvert Cliffs is brewpub The Ruddy Duck. It offers a full restaurant menu along with a tap list of house-made brews. I was excited to check this place out since it’s not too common to find a brewery with a full menu. This was the perfect spot for us after spending a few hours out in the cold. We were able to get a really delicious pizza with prosciutto and shallots which warmed me right up. We sat in the bar area and the waitress was immediately attentive and let us try several different varieties of their beers. Since the water was so wintery, we shied away from the IPAs and other light beers. Thankfully, they had several versions of their Oatmeal Stout available and we took the bartender’s suggestion and did half regular stout and half Coffee Toffee. It was a winner folks! We both found the flavored stouts to be very sweet so adding the regular stout helped to mellow it out. Honorable mention goes to the Hammerhead Red which was a nice malty red.
Overall, I found this to be a great local restaurant. The service was excellent and the pizza was scrumptious. The beer was just alright but combined with the enthusiasm of the bartender and the delicious food, it was an overall good experience. We definitely felt spoiled by the full menu! Definitely beats the sandwiches and carrots we usually pack as an after hike snack. Shockingly, pizza is more satisfying than carrot sticks.
- Knuckle Dragger – Oatmeal Stout – 5.6%
- Coffee toffee – Stout – 5.5%
- Hammerhead Red – Irish Red – 4.8%
SUM UP: Calvert Cliffs is a state park located in Lusby in Southern Maryland. It is a popular summertime destination but it is also quite beautiful in the off season. There is a $5 entrance fee and the park often reaches capacity in the summer months so be sure to check their social media before heading out. It’s a 1.8 mile trail to the hiker-only beach which is very popular with swimmers, sunbathers, and fossil hunters alike. Dogs are also welcome as long as they stay leashed. Afterwards, head to the Ruddy Duck for delicious food and fresh beer made in house. I dare you to try and count all the ducks in the restaurant!