Birding Howard County, Maryland

Savage Park Detailed Information

Like other portions of Savage area parkland, history and scenery share billing with interesting fauna and flora in this Fall Line park.

GPS: N39 08 17.4 W76 49 43.5

Habitat: The majority of the park contains deciduous woods, although a few pines still exist. Trees on the rocky substrate are shallow-rooted and easily blown over in storms. Browsing deer contribute to the open understory. The river is rocky as it drops to the Coastal Plain east of the park. Remnants of an era when both Savage Mill and stone quarries were an important part of Howard County's economy are easily noted along the River Trail. Extensive stands of tall invasive Japanese Knotweed are obvious in the sandy floodplain. The south-facing slopes warm early producing a variety of early spring wildflowers. Uplands, along the Patuxent Branch Trail (PBT) extension, offer a different variety of plants. The edge around the recreational area has never been particularly productive for birds.

Layout: One can spend much of a day in the Savage area exploring locations along two of Howard County's major rivers. Savage Park is the only part of area parkland that has facilities for active recreation. Although the trails are neither as flat as the Mill Trail nor as steep as parts of the Wincopin Trail, all are relatively easy to traverse. From the River Trail entrance behind the tennis courts, the trail soon splits. To the left (east) the trail passes crumbling portions of the mill race and other ruins related to the historic mill. Turning right at the initial junction will drop the hiker to the floodplain. The second entrance to the River Trail can be reached at the north end of the parking lot near the information board. A short distance downhill, the PBT extension comes in from the right (north). That trail stays on the upland, goes around the schools, and emerges on Vollmerhausen Road. At that point, if one turns left downhill to the river, the entrance to the Patuxent Branch Trail to Lake Elkhorn will be on the right just west of the bridge. The River Trail can be reached from the same information board in Savage Park, but instead of turning right on the PBT extension, continue straight downhill to the river. One can then go in either direction.

Best Time to Visit: Weekdays. This park is heavily used weekends and evenings during the warmer months.

Birding: Savage Park combines upland mixed forest and wooded floodplain. Migrants are most likely along the River Trail, especially during late April and early May when the south-facing slopes warm early. Breeding species include Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, Wood Thrush, Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Scarlet Tanager. Red-shouldered Hawks nest, and an occasional Bald Eagle is spotted.

Highlights: Historic ruins, a scenic river (especially after periods of heavy rain), and diverse natural history combine to make this park attractive. Unfortunately, invasive plants have made substantial inroads especially on the floodplain—six-foot tall Japanese Knotweed is the most dramatic. For the hiking/biking enthusiast, it is possible to start in this park and follow the PBT 4.0 miles to Lake Elkhorn.

Handicapped Access: Access is limited to the extension of the PBT and the central recreation area. Unpaved trails contain some moderately steep slopes and frequent rocky sections.

Deer Hunts: Controlled hunts are held on a few days during late fall and winter. Dates are posted and the park is closed during those periods.

© 2009