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Oxbow Nature Preserve

Open to the Public


Things To Do

Take a self-guided audio tour of the preserve. View All

Get Directions

The Little Patuxent Oxbow, an impoundment of the Little Patuxent River, was created over hundreds of years by beaver activity. The Maryland/DC Chapter helped the State of Maryland acquire this important area, which is home to the popular wildflowers blue-flag iris and cardinal flower. 

You may also hear the high piping whistle of the Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer). This type of frog can be found in brushy second growth near ponds or wetlands.

Why You Should Visit

The Laurel oxbow is an approximately 70-acre wetland in the floodplain of the Little Patuxent River and is unique in Maryland.  More than half the site is covered with shallow water even during the dry summer months.

The Laurel Oxbow Lake is considered to be the largest naturally occurring body of freshwater in Maryland; other lakes are the result of damming creeks. Naturalists have identified more than 150 species of birds, including the Bald Eagle and the Coopers Hawk, and 106 native vascular plant species, including rare species such as the Water-shield (Brasenia schreberi) and a dodder (Cuscuta polygonorum) in the wetland.

eBird Observations

Click here for Preserve Visitors Guide (PDF).

For more information, visit the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks website.

Download an Audio Tour

Planning a visit to Oxbow Preserve? Before your trip, download our self-guided audio tour to your handheld device. It's like having a naturalist in your pocket!

  • Step 1: Download the Oxbow Preserve audio tour map. This map will help identify which audio tracks to play based on your location on the trail, so make sure to take a copy with you on your trip.

  • Step 2: Download and save the mp3 audio files to your handheld device. Play the corresponding track when you reach a waypoint along the trail. Listen to them all or pick & choose based on your interests!

Tour stops 1 - 9

Tour stops 10 - 16

Tour stops 17 - 25


From I-295 (Baltimore Washington Parkway)

  • Take the 198 west exit toward Laurel
  • In less than 1 mile, turn right on Russett Green West.  NOTE: The first Russett Green is East, do not take this
  • Drive through the development and turn left after 0.8 miles onto Oxbow Place
  • When you see a sign that says Oxbow Lake Nature Preserve, park on the west side of the road (facing south) and enter the woods at the wheelchair ramp on the left side of the street

From I-95:

  • Take the 198 east exit
  • Pass through Laurel and pass the Laurel Racetrack
  • Turn left on Russett Green West
  • Drive through the development and turn left on Oxbow Place after 0.8 miles
  • When you see a sign that says Oxbow Lake Nature Preserve, park on the west side of the road (facing south) and enter the woods at the wheelchair ramp on the left side of the street



Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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