There are hot, sticky summer days that I need to get the kids out of the house, but am not up for a full day in the sun. To be honest, those are probably most of my summer days. Humidity kills me. That being said, I’m always looking for something to do, and last weekend, that was a visit to the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp.
It was perfect. Close to home, the wetland sanctuary and walking trail are free, don’t need more than an hour to visit, and provide shade on a hot day. We started in the visitor’s center which features local wildlife and the swamp’s history. My girls enjoyed the animals so much they even returned to see the albino snapping turtle before we left. You’ll see lizards, snakes, bees, an owl, and may even be able to feed the turtles during your visit. It’s a hit with kids.
I enjoyed reading about the history of illegal stills and trapping which became even more interesting as we walked through the swamp later. I can’t imagine ice skating through those trees, but the Gray sisters did and even collected ice that would last all year.
Through the visitor’s center, the main path begins with a set of irregular stone stairs which could be difficult for some, but once down, the quarter mile path becomes a flat elevated boardwalk through a beautiful cypress grove. There is a gravel path to the boardwalk that is easier to maneuver, so ask for a map if stairs are difficult.
The swamp is a registered natural landmark and a significant stand of bald cypress in Maryland. The trees are unlike anything I’ve seen. They send up knobby “knees” from the ground that cover the areas below like a mini forest beneath the giants. If you’re lucky you may see a mud turtle or lizard. We saw dragon flies and deer tracks too.
Photographers will love the contrast of sun and shade in the grove, and during butterfly season, the nature pond next to the visitor’s center is the place to be. While the girls searched the pond for frogs, I followed the butterflies with my camera. They land leisurely on each flower allowing plenty of time to shoot.
This is one of the few Calvert parks where dogs are not allowed, so leave Fido at home, but do plan a visit. It’s both educational and beautiful and has enough little things to spark the interest of the whole family.
Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary