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. Purse is available for public use year round, sunrise to sunset. Check out a map of the area.
Parking is located off of Maryland Route 224 across from a 3/4 mile trail leading to the waterfront.
Purse is a part of the Aquia Formation which formed in the Paleocene Era about 60 million years ago when a gigantic meteor hit the earth. This area was covered with warm shallow water which made it a suitable habitat for sand tiger sharks, mackerel sharks, Turritella (snails) and Eagle Rays more specifically Cownose Rays which all lived during this time period.
Hunting - Hunters are limited to a total of 10 in the area at any given time. The sign-in box for hunters is located next to the parking area. There are several unmarked, hunter created trails on the same side of the road as the parking area. Please be aware, all of Purse State Park is open for hunting. Waterfowl hunting is at its best during the final part of the season. Waterfowl Zones are located on the beach, and may be used by permit only. Please contact Myrtle Grove WMA for more information. Hunters may enter / remain on park property outside of the regular posted hours provided that they are engaged in legitimate, authorized hunting activity. Map of Nanjemoy NRMA, which includes Purse State Park.
Fossil Hunting - Fossil hunting has become a popular activity at Purse. Fossilized sharks teeth, bones and shell fragments are often found at low tide in the rocks and sand along the waters edge. Check the tides before you come. At high tide there is very little beach available. For tide tables, check http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/tides/index.asp (Liverpool Point, Maryland).
Birding - There are a couple of unmarked, hunter created trails on the same side of the road as the parking area that bird watchers enjoy walking. These trails meander through a forested area and along the edge of a small wetland. Note: These trails are not marked and you should come prepared with map and compass when using unmarked trails.
Fishing - Fishermen will need a Bay Sport (Tidal) Fishing License to fish this area. Wades Bay is a great fishing location for carp, large mouth bass, white perch and many other fish species. During the summer months Wades Bay tends to fill with submerged aquatic vegetation often making fishing a challenge.
- Pets are allowed in Purse State Park.
Directions: - Follow Route 301 south to Route 225 west. At intersection of Route 225 and Route 224, take a left on Route 224. Stay on Route 224 for approximately 15 miles. Purse has a dirt parking lot right along the road side. The trail to the beach is across the road from the parking lot.
Purse State Park
c/o Smallwood State Park
2750 Sweden Point Road
Marbury, MD 20658
Phone: (301) 743-7613
Hours of Operation
Sunrise to Sunset
Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours (e.g. fishing, boat launch, hunting where permitted). Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.
Contact the Park Service
- Toll Free: 1-800-830-3974
- Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
- Park Watch: 1-800-825-7275
- Email Us