Kayakers enjoy a fall day on Nanjemoy Creek.
Nanjemoy Creek Kayakers enjoy a fall day on Nanjemoy Creek. © Alan Eckert Photography

Places We Protect

Nanjemoy Creek

Maryland

One of Maryland's most pristine watersheds.

COVID-19 Update (March 30, 2020)

TNC’s public preserves in Maryland remain open. We ask all visitors to follow current health and safety precautions, including guidance from the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order issued March 30, 2020, the Maryland Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others (social distancing).

Parking may be limited at many of our preserves. If parking areas are full, please plan to return to the preserve another day.

If you choose to visit a TNC preserve, please follow preserve access guidelines, and check back here for updates as the current situation is changing rapidly.

Thank you for helping us in our efforts to protect our visitors’ health and well-being.


Check out an aerial photo of Nanjemoy Creek in Charles County and you’ll see why it has been called “the green thumb” of the Potomac River — about 80 percent of the land in the Nanjemoy watershed remains forested.

Relatively few roads carve through these woods, though human activities like residential development and incompatible forestry threaten this emerald-green oasis. The Nature Conservancy has embraced the challenge: retain the character of one of the state’s most pristine watersheds, where just eight percent of the land is currently protected.

TNC has identified a project area of more than 48,000 acres offering the rare opportunity to save and restore this enormous block of contiguous forest. This remarkable situation exists, in part, because the landscape has not been fragmented as it has in other places — only about 150 private landowners own 25,106 acres (76 percent) of the unprotected land here.

Since establishing Nanjemoy Creek Preserve in 1978, TNC has worked to assemble the forest puzzle, helping conserve more than 3,510 acres to date (3,204 of which is the Conservancy's preserve).

What You'll See

The preserve was established to protect a large breeding colony of great blue herons that once nested here.  The herons have since moved on, but the preserve abounds with life. 

Local farmer and naturalist Calvert R. Posey, site manager for many years, kept a detailed field journal listing 48 tree species, 86 wildflowers (including rare Virginia wild ginger), and numerous creatures — snakes, skinks and salamanders, to name a few. Posey noted that his lists on this richly endowed place were by no means complete.

TNC's ultimate goal is to protect a forested ecosystem large enough to function as nature intended it, and also large enough to encompass most, if not all, common and rare species. Raccoons, bobcats, skunks, and squirrels inhabit the woods; otters swim the creek; and the rare dwarf wedge mussel (found in only 20 sites worldwide) thrives in the sandy-mud bottom of stream banks. The deep forests here also attract many species of migratory songbirds.

For more information about visiting Nanjemoy, contact Gabe Cahalan at 301-897-8570 or gcahalan@tnc.org.

Nanjemoy Creek
Visit one of Maryland's most pristine watersheds.

Nanjemoy Creek Enjoy one of Maryland's most pristine watersheds.

Visit the Charles County Parks page to plan your visit and then download the audio tour map and driving directions. The letters marked on the map correspond to the audio files in the tour. 

Cell service may be unreliable at many of our preserves.  We recommend you download the recordings and maps before you visit.

MEET YOUR GUIDE

Deborah Barber is Director of Land Management for the Maryland/D.C. chapter. She enjoys exploring nature both on her own and with others, especially her children, who often spot interesting things that adults miss. She enjoys cooking, traveling, gardening, and learning about geology.

DOWNLOAD AUDIO FILES (MP3)

A1: Introduction

A2: Boat launch point at Friendship Farm Park

A3: Trail head plants and Friendship Farm trails

B: Route 6 and Hancock Run Road

C: Nanjemoy Creek

D: Unnamed wetland

E: Purse State Park

F1: Chiles homesite

F2: Cal Posey Trail

G: Mallows Bay