Best Hiking Near Annapolis

Visiting Maryland’s capital? Check out the best hiking near Annapolis!

view of sandy beach with rocks jutting into the ocean
Views from Sandy Point State Park

Annapolis is one of my favorite places to visit! (Helps that my parents live here.) It’s such a cute downtown and is a great place to visit anytime of year. When I’m hanging out with family, I love to go explore outside to get fresh air and hike in new-to-me places. I’ve created a list of places I’ve explored on my frequent visits to Annapolis.

Read on to find best hiking near Annapolis!

As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're out exploring! Pack out all trash, leave wildlife alone, and generally leave it better than you found it - for more information visit the Leave No Trace Center.

Quiet Waters Park

Quiet Waters is the closest place to downtown Annapolis to hike. This park is a county park and has a ton of options for activities in all seasons. While most of the trails are paved, which is usually not my jam, there are some great hikes in this park.

The paved loop around the park is a great trail for joggers, strollers, and wheelchair users. The red blazed trail is a great loop off of the paved trail to go through the woods. It’s a single track trail that takes you by the water with some great views. The park is dog friendly – just remember to keep your furry friends on a leash (outside of the dog park/dog beach areas).

Paved trail in Quiet Waters Park

If you want to do more than hike, Quiet Waters Park is the home of Capital SUP – a kayak and SUP rental place. I’ve rented SUPs here before and it’s a great activity! In the winter, the park offers outdoor ice skating.

There is an entrance fee which varies depending on whether you’re a resident of Anne Arundel County or not. If you’re planning on hiking here more than five times in a calendar year, it makes more sense to buy the annual pass. For more information and to plan your visit to the park, visit the Anne Arundel County website.

Views of the water from Quiet Waters Park
Unsure what to take on your hikes near Annapolis? Check out this list of ten essentials for day hiking!

Thomas Point Park

Thomas Point is a small 71 acre wooded park located on the Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the South River. While this park doesn’t have very much in the way of true hiking trails, it’s a nice place for a walk with good views. In addition to walking trails, Thomas Point offers fishing, picnic areas, and grills. The most notable aspect of the park are the views of the Thomas Point Lighthouse – one of the few remaining screw pile lighthouses in the country, which offers very limited tours.

Passes are required to visit Thomas Point from April 1st to October 31st. Passes can only be purchased online and there are a limited number available. For this reason, I recommend that you plan your visit in advance. Daily passes are made available for purchase Thursday prior to the week you want to visit. To visit the park, use the following address: 3890 Thomas Point Road, Annapolis, MD 21403. For more information on Thomas Point Park, visit the Anne Arundel County Park page.

Sandy Point State Park

Sandy Point State Park is a great place to go for a hike! This 786-acre Maryland State Park is located along the northwestern shore of the Chesapeake Bay and offers some amazing views of the Bay Bridge. The park has both a wooded and beach area depending on what you’re looking for. In addition to hiking, Sandy Point State Park offers accessible food and beverage concession, fishing, picnic areas, shelters, and playgrounds.

One of my favorite trails is the Hut and Beach trail. This trail gives you great views of the Bay Bridge and the lighthouse. ark at the South Beach area near the bathrooms. Walk west along the beach until you pick up a trail along the dunes. Then walk north until you hit the East Beach Area. You’ll be able to pick up a trail off East Beach to loop back towards the parking lot.

Exploring the marshy trails of Sandy Point in Nov 2023 – just remember that dogs are only allowed during certain times of the year!

There is a fee to enter the park – $5 for weekends and $4 for weekdays. Note that dogs are only allowed in the park between October 1 – April 30 and must be kept on a leash at all times.

Sandy Point is open from 7am to sunset every day, except for mid November to January 2nd, when it closes at 4pm because of the Lights on the Bay program. For more information about Sandy Point, check out the Maryland DCNR website.

Road tripping to Annapolis? Check out Top Road Trip Advice!

Franklin Point State Park

Another park in the Maryland State Park system is Franklin Point! This park features a variety of marsh, forest and field areas, with a beautiful sand shoreline overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. This park is on the smaller side, at 477 acres, but has a great 2.2 mile loop for hiking that can be found on AllTrails.

Something crazy about this park is that it is gated and you have to request the combination to the lock prior to visiting. You can do this by visiting the Maryland DCNR website and filling out their gate combination request form. This is not something I’ve ever experienced at another park! There is also limited parking, so get there early especially if it’s a nice day. Because of both of these factors, visits to this park should be planned in advance.

Franklin Point is open from sunrise to sunset. To visit Franklin Point, use these coordinates: 38.813919, -76.512214

Trying to figure out what to wear hiking? Check out my roundup of best hiking shorts!

Waterworks Park

Waterworks Park is located on 600 acres only ten minutes from downtown Annapolis. The park is one of the few open space resources in the Annapolis area that offers with hiking, biking, fishing, and picnicking.

There are over 11 miles of trails at Waterworks! The Reservoir Trail is a flat handicap accessible trail that’s great for hikers of all ages and abilities. The Overlook Trail and the Woodland Loop Trail are unpaved and more challenging, For more trail information and a map, check out the Waterworks park brochure or check out the park map on AllTrails.

The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. All visitors are required to get a permit – fees vary depending on residency. The permit has the gate code needed to get in and out of the park. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed at Waterworks Park. To get to the park, use this address: 270 Defense Hwy, Annapolis, MD 21401.

Where to Stay in Annapolis

Annapolis is an amazing place to stay in all seasons. If you’re looking to visit, you can’t go wrong with either a hotel or a local rental.

The Graduate, Annapolis

This college themed hotel is a funky place to stay that is super walkable in downtown Annapolis. My favorite part – the gym has a Peleton bike! The nautical artwork is also very on brand and I love that the rooms have old maps as wallpaper.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Love Annapolis, Maryland? Let me know how your hikes go in the comments below!

Updated July 3 2024

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