Bacon Ridge Natural Area


The BRNA is a true natural gem, with expansive marshes, mature forests, and at the center, its namesake creek. The central 630 acres is protected by a conservation easement with SRLT and the Maryland Environmental Trust to preserve these natural features. The terms of the easement do allow for the land to be open to the public as a park for what is called passive recreation, primarily hiking and nature study. The delicate balance of preservation and public enjoyment is overseen by the BRNA Stewardship Committee, which makes recommendations to the County on how the parkland is managed. The committee welcomes suggestions on how this public asset should be used.

The Bacon Ridge Natural Area (BRNA) is owned by Anne Arundel County in the Bacon Ridge Branch of the South River. This includes the 83 acres of the original Bacon Ridge Natural Area (which the County has owned since the 1920s), the 547 acres of the Crownsville Hospital Grounds west of I-97 (which the County took ownership of in December of 2010), and any additional land purchased by the County for conservation in the area (as of February 2011, over 200 acres).

A critical portion of SRLT’s mission is to promote access to the public portions of Bacon Ridge and to protect surrounding land by working with local landowners to secure conservation easements. Fundraising for this preservation work has proved difficult and publicity provided by our annual “Walk for the Woods” is very important.
SRG Protected
Public access:

The first publicly accessible trail was built in the summer and fall of 2015, totaling 2.5 miles. The trail is located off of Hawkins Road, a few hundred yards past the overpass of 97. There is a small 10-12 space gravel parking lot for public use. A second phase of 4.5+ miles of trail was added in fall of 2016. There is a map of the trails at the trailhead. These natural surface trails are open to hikers, mountain bikers, and dogs on leashes.

The County is dedicated to seeing that the Bacon Ridge Natural Area is open to the public in a responsible manner that ensures the long-term conservation of the property.  A condition of the land transfer and the conservation easement is that the area only be used for passive recreation.  The County, the Bacon Ridge Stewardship Committee and SRLT have partnered with the National Park Service to begin drafting a public access plan for Bacon Ridge. Extensive review of the property has been completed and a variety of public meetings held. The plan must be sensitive to the protection of the resource, the concerns and priorities of area residents, and the realities of meeting public expectations in a time of very tight budgets.  

The area is both ecologically and historically significant. The creek is named Bacon Ridge Branch because hogs used to forage for chestnuts on the tops of the ridges. Colonial barges once plied up Bacon Ridge Branch several miles above Route 50 to load hogs for shipment to England; the remains of a colonial wharf are still visible. Crownsville Hospital opened in 1911 to serve African American patients needing psychiatric care. Today there remains a hospital cemetery with over 1,800 patient’s graves, marked only by numbers. The site includes three 19th century historic archeological sites, including the remains of the Charles S. Waters Mill.

For a more in-depth history of SRLT and partners involvement with BRNA and SRG, please look here