Jug Bay Natural Area
Patuxent River Park
16000 Croom Airport Rd.
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Jug Bay Natural Area is located in in Croom (southern PG county). This was about a 30 minute drive for us and well worth it! When I put the address in my GPS it actually directed us to a maintenance area past the main entrance on Croom Airport Rd. But missing our turn was a blessing in disguise because we found the American Indian village display AND a little nature playground that we didn’t know was there! We got out at the Indian village and the girls loved going inside the house and putting rocks in the fire pit. To get to the Indian village – take Croom Airport Rd past the visitor center entrance all the way down to the end of the road (about 5 minutes driving) You’ll see it at the end of the parking lot past the boat ramp!
Once we got back to the main entrance (very well marked on Croom Airport Rd) we parked next to the observation tower. We took the stairs down to the boat ramp area where we saw a blue heron up close! Then we headed to the right and got on the brown trail. This was a perfect length hike for toddlers – took us about 45 minutes. About half of the hike was on narrow boardwalks over the marsh – really cool and beautiful but definitely had to keep a close eye on the girls. There was a scenic lookout point about halfway around the loop. On the boardwalk side we saw lots of turtles and a beaver hutch! After the hike we climbed to the top of the observation tower for a nice view. The tower was open but not the elevator, just FYI.
After that we got back in the car and headed to the Nature playground to play and have lunch (details below!)
🚽 Bathrooms 🚽: clean public restrooms at the visitor center. Porta-potty near American Indian Village
👩👧👦Solo w/ kids?👩👧👦: For the hike – definitely not. Boardwalks had no railings! We had my dad with us on this one.
🛒 Stroller friendly?🛒: no, I had the baby in the carrier
🦠Covid-safe🦠: trails were totally empty from 9:30-11:30 on a weekday.
🅿️Parking🅿️: Large parking lot in each area we visited.
⏰Timing⏰: our hike on the brown trail took about an hour with 2 toddlers walking
Jug Bay Nature Playground
On our way to hike at Jug Bay Natural area, we missed our turn for the visitor center and ended up finding a really cute nature playground. It was the girls favorite part of the day! To get here, turn left out of the visitor center entrance in to Croom Airport Rd and the play area will be on your right, about 2 minutes down the road. This is PG County’s first nature playground – my girls loved it! It had a canoe sand box, mud kitchen, butterfly wings, a tree house, huge tunnel, spider web climber and a tractor made out of tree stumps. We practically had to drag them out of there when it was time to go! Honestly, we would come back down here just to play here!
🚽 Bathrooms 🚽: No restrooms near nature playground
👩👧👦Solo w/ kids?👩👧👦: Yes (if only visiting the nature playground)
🛒 Stroller friendly?🛒: yes
🦠Covid-safe🦠: we had the play area to ourselves from 11-12:30 on a weekday
🅿️Parking🅿️: Large gravel parking lot
⏰Timing⏰: we spent 1.5 hours here and could’ve stayed even longer!