Sunday, April 11, 2010

Governor Bridge Natural Area & Canoe Launch

The Patuxent River Park is a series of properties along the Patuxent River in Prince George's County that are managed by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC). The Governor Bridge Natural Area & Canoe Launch is one of two Bowie locations that are part of the Patuxent River Park.

The parking area is located on the South side of Governor Bridge Road - about a half mile before the bridge (that's on the right hand side if heading toward the bridge and Anne Arundel County). If you blink, you might miss it. It's the first right that you can take off of Governor Bridge Road after passing the back lot for Prince George's Stadium.

Color triangles mark the trails. We saw yellow, red, blue and green trails on our trip today.

Some of the trails wind through wooded areas, and other trails head to the canoe launch or circle the lake. Biking is permitted.

You'll come across this pond if you head toward the canoe launch. Boating is only permitted in the Patuxent River itself. This pond and the lake are off limits to boats.

Turtles everywhere. Five on this log alone.

We came across this big turtle in one of the many ponds. Although it might be hard to tell from the picture, I estimate that the shell alone measures 14 to 16 inches.

We saw this duck in another pond.

We found a bridge over a stream on one of the trails, and we saw these tadpoles in the water. The tadpoles were fairly mature, and they probably measured 3 to 4 inches.

An 8 acre lake is the largest water feature at this location. The trails around the lake are probably the most popular trails in the park. According to the M-NCPPC, this was the site of an abandoned sand and gravel mining operation that closed in the 1960s, and restoration of this site began in the 1980s.

A Canada Goose nests on a tiny island in the lake. Canada Geese can become very aggressive in this situation, so luckily there was some distance between us and the goose.

This is probably a Northern Water Snake. We saw it slithering along the edge of the lake. The snake would disappear under muck on the bottom of the lake, and then it would suddenly reappear. We followed this snake along the edge for about 40 feet before we lost it.

We saw several trees that had been taken down by beaver, and we came across this beaver out for a swim.

We last saw the beaver dive under here. I assume this is the den.

Google Satellite Image
The parking area can be seen on the left. The large path to the right leads to the canoe launch on the Patuxent River. The pond on the right is the largest pond at this location. Adjust the map to the South to see the 8 acre lake.

View Larger Map


  1. Nice shots. I've never seen a beaver, just the evidence it had been there.

  2. L.A., It was a first for me. I wish I could have got a pic of the beaver out of the water.

  3. Those pictures are beautiful. I got a nice glimpse of the Patuxent as I was driving from Kent Island to DC on Sunday. I wanted to pull over for a closer look but I didn't have any extra time.

  4. Thanks Cyndy. I like the Patuxent River a bit more where it opens up around Southern Prince George's County, St. Mary's County and Calvert County. Although it's been a long time, we rented kayaks at one of the parks along the Patuxent near Upper Marlboro.

  5. Been reading your blog since the Feb snowstorm and am always entertained. Thanks for posting about the Bowie areas of the park. I never knew they existed! I don't get out much. Ha

  6. Cara, thanks for reading! I didn't know about this park either until a month ago when I ran into an M-NCPPC ranger in Foxhill Park (the Coatman story). I drove by the park many times without ever noticing it.

    I wanted to get the kids away from the TV and video games on Sunday, so I took them here. They kept saying, "can we go now? Can we go now?" Then we came across the snake, and my daughter's tune suddenly changed. She said, "I think we finally found something interesting!"

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  8. Yeah, perfect for the kids and really good photos. I've seen beavers in unlikely locations inside Baltimore City, and we had a coyote living in Silver Creek park behind my house in Pikesville. Out here in the Pacific Northwest, one of the big problems we're having trying to save the salmon from extinction (my new job) is that the French trappers virtually eradicated beaver out here, and that caused a lot of habitat loss for juvenile fish (no beaver pools to hide from predators in). Everything in nature is connected, I'm learning, and we suck at not screwing it up.

  9. Thanks Bob. Good to hear from you. I suppose the solution isn't as easy as reintroducing more beaver? Still looking for pics from Idaho.

  10. the thing is they still dont want the beaver there they try to dump whole branched dead trees in the water now