A Lens Focused on Maryland: Hammerman Area
Gunpowder Falls State Park: Hammerman Area
Maryland is a beautiful state with such a diverse geography that you are sure to find a State Park here that suits your needs. From mountains, to ocean beaches, to tidal marshes, and dense wooded areas, you can spend your day outdoors in whatever setting you crave at that particular moment. One of my favorite state parks in Maryland is Gunpowder Falls State Park, the Hammerman beach area.
Let me introduce you to the beauty of Maryland at Hammerman Park.
Image Credit: These photographs are my personal photographs from my travels. Images are Dawn Rae - All Rights Reserved.
Chesapeake Bay by Air - Have an appetizer.
I love this little movie. I have seen it probably more than 50 times on public television and I never grow tired of it. A little glimpse to get you in the mood.
A relaxing aerial tour of the Chesapeake Bay; including 35 areas. A visual feast of the area.
One of My Favorite Spots Close to Home
Soon after I transplanted to Maryland, I found many different spots in the Gunpowder Falls Park, the rivers and trails, and visited them often. Then I learned that it culminates at Hammerman beach area. The winding, flowing, boulder-strewn river opens into what I call "The Bay". I would go and sit and watch "The Bay" for hours. While I still insist on calling it the bay, it is really the tidal, brackish waters of a river. The Gunpowder River.
Mountains, Beach, Dessert, Wooded Area...
When outdoors, where do you want to be?
Getting There and Getting In
The physical address of the park is 7400 Graces Quarters, Chase, MD 21027.
Hammerman is a state park with a fee and certain hours of operation. I'd advise you to check out the official site before you go if you aren't local or if you are traveling a distance. Occasionally, I forget what time it is and end up there after hours, but I don't mind since I know the local hour and can find plenty of other areas to park, walk, and putter around.
The entrance fee is less during the off season. Currently, it is $3 for me to get in (off season). It goes as high (currently) as $7 per person, non-resident, in the summer season. It is cost effective to purchase an annual state park pass if you are going to go to Maryland State Parks multiple times. Also, in the off-season, it is often a honor-pay system. Having an annual pass would eliminate having to make sure you have three bucks on you, stop at the gate, and mess with the little envelope and hang-tag.
Watersports on "The Bay"
Oops, I mean on Gundpowder River at Hammerman.
Every time I go to the park, except in the very dead of winter when the waves meet ice before they meet the sand, I see people playing on the water. The larger boats (recreational, fishing, and crabbing) pass by at a distance. Closer to the shore are the people who are kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, sailing, and on and on.
If you own your own water sport equipment, you can launch it at the beach area, if it is light enough to carry down a small hill and across a bit of lawn and beach. Or, you can launch it at the boat launch on the other side of the park.
If you do not own your own water sport equipment, you can rent from Ultimate Watersports. Everyone I know who has rented equipment here, has said good things about their experience. I have finally kayaked, in Florida with my sons, but I haven't here yet. I will get around to it someday. And I hope to own my own kayak by then. However, if I get motivated to go before then, I would definitely rent from Ultimate Watersports.
In a way, I prefer tucking in along the shoreline, in a secluded place on crowded days. Or sitting on the beach on the days when I almost have the property to myself. And I watch the birds and boaters. It's a beautiful sight.
Flora and Fauna - Something to see everytime I am there.
If you are quiet and watchful, you will see some pretty amazing things while at this park.
The birds are amazing. I love the Osprey most of all. I'd never seen an Osprey before moving to Maryland. Now I not only see them regularly, but i can hear their chirp and know they are in the area long before I see them. I also have seen Bald Eagles in this area many times. It is not as often as seeing the Osprey, but it still has been more times than I ever imagined I'd see Bald Eagles in my lifetime.
I see fast moving deer. I've seen tiny, white speckled fawns. I've seen turtles and even yucky snakes. Sorry, I don't like snakes when we are out in the open and they can sneak up on a girl.
If you like dragonflies, this is the place to be.
Butterflies are often around. I have recently learned that milkweeds provide a home or food to butterflies. There are stands of milkweeds here. I even love the weeds, especially in the fall as they open and the little strings of fluff float off.
There are a large variety of trees and the leaves are spectacular in the fall. And there are flowers. I love walking the trails in the spring and finding the random bunches of daffodils.
On the marsh side of the park, there are many different types of what I call cattails and marsh grasses. No matter what time of year, there is spectacular sights to see.
Picnicking, Playing, or Getting Your Exercise
There are many large pavilions to choose from. And each Pavilion appears to have plenty of tables, grills, and some have water sources. In the "on" season, there are permanent park bathrooms near the pavilions. Check the DNR site for policies about reserving the pavilions.
There are multiple playgrounds for the children. some of the playgrounds are quite large and extensive, and on the main drive/parking areas. I'm trying to say that they are impossible to miss and easy to access. There are other playgrounds that are smaller and tucked away.
In addition to the Pavilions with the picnic areas, there are an enormous amount of spots with picnic tables scattered throughout the park. If you want to be near many people, you can be. If you want to find a completely secluded spot to sit and write or read (like me), you can always find it.
The layout of this park is great for a walk, jog, or bike ride. It's probably slightly small for very serious bicyclists. And there aren't the bike paths like my son enjoys, that I know of. But there are many elderly folks who ride around the paved drive loop. There also appear to be locals who ride through. When I'm in need of a decent walk, I walk the loop of the park. Because the roadway is mostly one way, and the roadway seems fairly wide, it is a comfortable place to take a long walk.
A Secluded Playground.
There are multiple playgrounds for the children. Some are small and secluded, as shown in the photograph. Others are very large playgrounds and located directly on the main road in the park. They are all easy to locate. Each playground, with the exception of the one in the photograph, have restroom facilities located next to the play area. Please note that, however, that most of the restrooms are closed during the off season. Several portable restrooms are located in the park during the off season.
Ever been to Hammerman Area?
The vast majority of folks seem to visit during the "on" season and congregate at the beach. The beach is pretty fantastic. Hard to believe we are just miles from Baltimore City. It is a fairly long beach and life guards are present during season. I prefer the beach in the off season. I love the water bird prints in the sand. And watching the birds fishing while sitting quietly.
The Osprey often catch their meal and fly to the trees near the parking lot, or their nest on the nesting poles, to snack. It's all a spectacular thing to watch.
Families enjoy this beach very much. It is convenient, large, and the children love it. This photo shows only one section of the beach. There are at least 3 sections, this size, with life guards. There are another 2-3 sections of this size, heading in the direction of the Ultimate Watersports shed, that aren't guarded. The water is very shallow in this area. So unlike some places where the boats speed by fairly close, the motored boats are quite a ways out.
Bird Watching at the "Bay"
I love watching the birds. I am learning to identify them. I'm still not very good at it. But books such as these are helpful and interesting.
I Write Here
There are so many beautiful spots. I have gone here many times, in warmer weather, to sit outside and write or read. Whether I choose the pavilion perched high above the water, right at water's edge, or a secluded picnic table in the wooded areas next to the marsh, I am inspired.
My muse must live in the trees and play in the marsh grass. She rides the crows who steal my picnic lunch and laugh at me as I look perplexed.
If you are in the area, this is a great place to visit. Whether your idea of a perfect state park setting is socializing or solitude...physical activity or relaxing inactivity... this would be the place for you.The views are large and sweeping. The treasures in this park are many, from the very large to the very small, and you don't have to look real hard to find them.
A Few Helpful Links to Fill in the Gaps
My article was just a brief description of why I love Hammerman. These links will include some of the information that I didn't cover in-depth, information that may change, or things I didn't cover at all. There is so much to do and see at Hammerman that it really should have it's own book.
- Gunpowder Falls Sate Park: Hammerman Area
The official DNR site that includes costs, rules, regulations, and etc. A very helpful resource.
- Kayak, SUP, Canoe ... Rentals
The Ultimate Watersports website. How to rent your canoe, kayak, SUP, etc etc etc. I've only heard good things about this place by word-of-mouth and someday will either buy or rent my own kayak.
- Maryland DNR Outdoor Store
DNR Outdoor Store. Purchase your annual passes here.