There's no reason to stay inside in Anne Arundel

July 23, 2006

If you like outdoor recreation, you'll find plenty to enjoy in Anne Arundel County.

State, county and city of Annapolis parks and trails provide a variety of environments for running, walking, hiking, biking and picnicking, as well as ball fields, tennis courts and other areas developed for team sports, and the county is home to a number of public and semiprivate golf courses.

If nautical recreation appeals to you, Anne Arundel, with its rivers and numerous creeks and its location on the Chesapeake Bay, offers many opportunities to spend time on the water.

The area's sailing schools provide instruction for sailors of every skill level, and courses on powerboat safety are offered at several locations.

Among the county's many public parks:

Sandy Point State Park. With 786 acres off U.S. 50 and U.S. 301 at 1100 E. College Parkway, Sandy Point State Park is busiest during the warmer months when its location on the Chesapeake - at the Bay Bridge - makes it ideal for water-related activities such as fishing, crabbing, swimming and boating.

Rowboats and motorboats are available for rent late spring through early fall, and boat launches are available at the marina.

Other options for water recreation include canoeing, kayaking and windsurfing. Or parkgoers can picnic, use the playground or hike through the pine forests, marshes and woods. Birding is a popular year-round activity. 410-974-2149, www.dnr. state.md.us/publiclands/ southern/sandypoint.html.

County parks

Anne Arundel has more than 150 parks, both developed and undeveloped, ranging from large regional parks to small neighborhood parks with ball fields and playgrounds, according to John Marshall, the county's chief of special facilities. Among the most notable:

Rail trail. Hike, jog, bike or skate on the paved bed of the old Baltimore and Annapolis (B&A) Short Line Railroad on the county's 13-mile, 10-foot-wide Baltimore & Annapolis Trail Park.

The park's south end is at Jonas Green Park in Annapolis, its north end at Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie, where it connects to the 12.5-mile paved BWI Trail that loops around Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The B&A trail, accessible at a number of points along the way, passes through a variety of environmental habitats.

The park is open from 7 a.m. to dusk daily and is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. 410- 222-6244.

Fort Smallwood Park, at 9500 Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena, off Hogneck Road, reopened to the public March 31 for recreational activities and amenities such as fishing and picnicking. The park no longer offers overnight camping, boating or windsurfing. However, the county is exploring options to allow cartop-carried water vessels such as canoes, kayaks and windsurfing.

The park is open from 7 a.m. to dusk daily (closed Wednesdays and on Thanksgiving and Christmas). 410-222-0087.

Lake Waterford Park at Pasadena Road and B&A Boulevard in Pasadena has areas for recreation such as hiking, picnicking and bird-watching, as well as areas developed for basketball, tennis and other sports on its 108 acres. There is a small nature center with reptiles, amphibians and fish. Nature-related activities for children and adults are scheduled throughout the year.

Two highlights of this park are a 12-acre lake with fishing and a Boundless Playground, accessible to all children, including those with disabilities.

The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk, and is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. 410-222-6248.

Kinder Farm Park at 1001 Kinder Farm Park Road in Millersville off Jumpers Hole Road offers mostly passive and natural recreation. Its 288 acres include trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, a playground and picnic facilities. Fishing, playing horseshoes and bird-watching are some of the other popular park activities.

Also at Kinder Farm Park is a working Depression-era farm with blacksmith shop, farm animals, old tobacco barn and antique equipment. Special events and activities for children and adults are held throughout the year.

The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk and closed on Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 410-222-6115, 410-222-6122 (activities hot line).

Quiet Waters Park at 600 Quiet Waters Park Road in Annapolis is between South River and Harness Creek.

This 340-acre recreational area is home to a popular dog park and dog beach. For humans, there are hiking trails, a 6 1/2 -mile paved bike trail, a fitness course, a playground, picnic areas, kayak, canoe and paddle boat rentals and more.

The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk and closed on Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. 410-222-1777.

John H. Downs Memorial Park, commonly referred to as Downs Park, is on the Chesapeake Bay at 8311 John Downs Loop in Pasadena. It has 245 acres with natural areas for passive recreation, paved and unpaved trails, ball fields, tennis courts, a nature center, a pond and a dog beach.

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