Summer seems to have truly arrived and many of us can’t wait to get out and about with our pets. We have some great tips for places to go on and off leash as well as some reminders on dog fun etiquette--how to have fun and keep you and your pets safe. But there are some things to remember before you leave your Southern Maryland home or apartment for a summer excursion.
Animal Control wants to remind pet owners that the summer can bring many hazards. The most common danger for animals is overheating, which can be extremely dangerous and even deadly to animals that are out and about. Always provide plenty of shade for animals as well as cool, clean water. A parked car can become a furnace within minutes. Parking in the shade doesn’t work. When hiking, carry fresh, cold water and continue to hydrate pets and yourself. Never take pets to the beach unless shaded spots and plenty of fresh water can be provided. In extremely hot weather, don't leave dogs standing on the street; asphalt is extremely hot during the day when the sun is directly shining down.
A few other tips:
1. Make sure to bring something to pick up the mess your dog(s) make. Always clean up after your dog. This is the number one reason dogs may be banned from areas.
2. Bring water for your dog and a leash.
3. Don't bring your dog if it is not socialized or is aggressive.
4. Don't let your pet wander too far- a 10 foot training leash is acceptable at most places.
5. Minimize the barking.
6. Pets may be off-leash and under voice control while swimming in designated areas or hunting (with the appropriate permit) or in the County’s 2 dog parks (see notes below).
7. All pets must be licensed and have all required vaccinations.
8. Pets, with the exception of service animals, are not allowed in park buildings.
9. Pets, with the exception of service animals, are not allowed in playgrounds.
10. Pet owners must obey all park signs that prohibit the entry of pets into specific areas.
11. For safety, visitors using trails located in designated hunting areas should wear bright orange during the hunting season.
12. Equestrians share the trails with hikers and mountain bikers; be sure to keep control of your dog when a horse passes – many will kick at a barking dog.
13. After a day out, bathe your dog well. The trails have ticks and the recreational water sometimes carries germs that can cause skin rashes. This also applies to the dogs human.
Trails To Explore With Your Dog
Cedarville State Forest.The Piscataway Indian Tribe made this section of Southern Maryland its winter camping ground. There are 19.5 miles of marked trails. The trails wind past the loblolly pine plantations planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's, by a charcoal kiln, and through farm areas where springs and streams were used to make "moonshine." Trails may be wet at times. (hunting)
Myrtle Grove WMA contains hardwood forests, wildlife plantings, natural and man-made wetlands and early succession habitats and a 23-acre lake, a 10-acre pond, two green-tree reservoirs, and numerous streams on Myrtle Grove WMA. This 1,723-acre tract is located in the forested bottomlands of Mattawoman Creek and was once home to the Piscataway Indians. (hunting, shooting range)
Chapel Point State Park is located on the Port Tobacco River, a tributary of the Potomac River. Chapel Point is an undeveloped multi-use park. Chapel Point also maintains minimal beach area that may be used for canoes and other small watercraft and a place to throw your sticks out in the water for the dogs to retrieve. (Hunting)
Chapman State Park stretches from the Potomac River to Mattawoman Creek, in western Charles County. Looking from Mt. Aventine Mansiondown to the Potomac River and Virginia shoreline, you can enjoy one of the most striking views in the region. The habitats of Chapman State Park vary from flooded wetlands to cactus-studded dry sands, illustrating the variety of the coastal plain’s natural heritage. Significant biodiversity thrives here,
Purse State Park is located on the Potomac River on Wades Bay. Purse is a wooded undeveloped area that is used for hunting, bird watching, fishing and fossil hunting. A 3/4 mile trail leads to the waterfront.(hunting)
Smallwood State ParkBesides the restored house, the 628-acre park offers trail system is approximately two miles in length and includes a marina, boat launching ramps, a picnic area, camping area, pavilions, a recycled tire playground (awesome for the kids). Children ages 5-12 can enjoy climbing walls, zip lines, a ten-tire bouncer, tire swings, a fish music wall and much more. On occasion, there are craft demonstrations, military exhibitions and other special events.There is a day use service charge.
If your pet loves canoeing, and many do, there are several scenic flat water canoe routes in Southern Charles County –
• Potomac River Water Trail: (Lower Potomac) - Prince Georges, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties
• Charles County Water Trails - Charles County
Contact the Southern Region Nature Tourism for additional information.
Thomas Stone, A National Historic Site
The park contains the restored home of Thomas Stone, outbuildings and family cemetery. A Visitor Center features exhibits, an orientation film, sales area and restrooms. Visitors can walk at their own pace to stroll across the park grounds amidst the farm buildings or travel old farm trace roads and imagine the past. Admission to the park is free.
Off- Leash Charles County
Charles County is home to two wonderful dog parks. These public off-leash areas allow for a safe, legal area for dogs to run, play and socialize, as long as your dog plays nicely in groups. Picnic pavilions and benches are offered so owners can enjoy the park as well. Plastic pickup bags are provided by the park.
White Plains Dog Park in St. Charles and Turkey Hill Dog Park.Be aware that Turkey Hill Dog Park does not have water for you or your pets- please bring your own.
Charles County Trails and Parks:
Indian Head Rail Trail: I personally think this one is rated number one by pets and their owners. Previously an unused railroad corridor, this "rail-trail" is now a great place to walk a 13-mile bike trail, approximately halfway across our County.
Friendship Farm Park is located on Friendship Landing Road, just off Route 425 in Nanjemoy. This scenic park overlooks the wonderful Nanjemoy Creek. Two trail loops offer hikers and nature lovers nearly 4 miles of waterfront and woodland hiking opportunities.
Gilbert Run Park is located eight miles east of La Plata on Route 6. Within this wooded parkland are hiking and nature trails, picnic areas, playground areas, and fishing piers and a 60 acre fresh water lake.
Laurel Springs Park is located on Radio Station Road in La Plata. Developed facilities include a playground with emphasis on special needs play. Fitness enthusiasts will enjoy the natural surface running/walking trail which loops through the wooded perimeter of the park.
Concerts and Festivals
St Charles Sunset Concert Festival and Farmers' Market at O'Donnell Lake
Every Friday night, St. Charles hosts a farmers market and then a free family concert, in a beautiful setting. Open to all behaved family members.
Let’s have fun and be safe.