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Day Trip: Pontoon Tour of the Patuxent River

posted in: Sports/Recreation

How about a new feature here on the old blog – fun day trips from Greenbelt!  Guest blog stories welcome – just leave a comment.

Jug Bay sign along Patuxent River

So I’ll start, with a place I began exploring last summer and returned to recently – Patuxent River Park.  in Upper Marlboro.  Its website tells us it has

more than 8 miles of scenic woodland trails for hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. The park provides facilities for camping and picnics. There are two fishing areas at Jug Bay that offer good tidal fishing year-round. Jug Bay has two standard boat ramps, but no overnight tie-ups or fuel facilities. Bow hunting and waterfowl hunting are permitted in designated areas. A limited number of blind sites along the river are leased on a seasonal basis. Jug Bay is excellent to explore by canoe or kayak along the Patuxent Water Trail. The park offers guided trips, as well as daily and hourly canoe and kayak rentals. “

Plus, all these programs and events.

On a recent Saturday I joined a friend who’d reserved an entire naturalist-guided pontoon tour for up to 30 people.  (It’s free for county residents, but reserve early for weekends.) Here’s where we started.

Patuxent River Park


Rural Life Museum along Patuxent River

Jug Bay pontoon trip on Patuxent River



Patuxent River from pontoon tour


kayakers on the Patuxent River


Patuxent River, view from pontoon

The light green is newly sprouted wild rice.

Patuxent River, view from pontoon

Osprey  nets in Patuxent River, view from pontoon

We saw lots of osprey nests.

Osprey  nets in Patuxent River, view from pontoon


Here’s another osprey nest and the tall tan plant is phragmites, one of the top 10 invasive Species -plant or animal – in the Chesapeake Bay. 

“Phragmites is a perennial plant with feathery plumes at the top of tall, stiff stalks. It grows in wetlands, along roadsides and along shorelines throughout the Bay watershed. Although its origin is unclear, it is widely distributed across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and Australia. It was introduced to North America inadvertently in the 19th century from the ballasts of Eurasian trade ships. Phragmites crowd out native plants by creating tall, dense stands in wetland habitats.  Source.

We learned that glyphosate is used to kill the phragmites, though not Roundup, which has a surfactant that’s dangerous to aquatic creatures.

Phragmites in Patuxuent River

On the far right, a perch for the male osprey to keep an eye on the nest from a distance.
Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

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