More than shark teeth
Say “Calvert Cliffs State Park,” and many minds will immediately jump to the shark teeth that can be found on the beach near the cliffs.
But much more can be found both on and off the beach within Calvert Cliffs State Park. Alicia Lindbom, seasonal ranger, said most visitors to the park take the 1.8-mile red trail to the beach and back, and many don’t know what else can be seen and done at the park.
“The hardest part about educating people about the park it is more than just the beach. … The fossils aren’t going anywhere,” she said.
Lindbom said at the very least, don’t rush straight to the beach, but enjoy the walk there. There’s plenty of wildlife that can be seen along the red trail and the wetland that runs along one side of it near the beach. The trail is not handicapped-accessible, but by calling the park two weeks in advance, a beach transport can be arranged for those who wish to have assistance reaching the beach.
In addition to the red trail, the park has miles of other trails. For fans of the red trail, Lindbom recommends trying out the orange trail, which starts in the northern end of the parking lot and makes a half loop to the beach. The orange trail is slightly longer than the red trail at 2.4 miles each way. The orange trail has more hills and goes through another wetland and over a bridge constructed as an Eagle Scout project.
Bikes and horses can be ridden on the access road, which is a more challenging trail that connects other trails. A portion of the park is also available to hunt during hunting season. There’s also an area for groups to camp.
Some locals come to the park quite frequently, Lindbom said, and they are able to get a very full experience, seeing how the park changes over time and with the seasons. For instance, beavers are more active in the fall.
For those wanting to take their fossil hunting to the next level, almost everything that can be picked out of the sand is a fossil of some kind. If a piece is shiny, it’s not a fossil, Lindbom said. Most of the things that can be gathered are fragments between 8 million and 10 million years old because the present-day location is at the bottom of an ancient ocean floor.
Although shark teeth can be found, so can ancient scallop and clam pieces, conglomerates of other fossils, teeth of skates and rays, vertebrae, corral and more. The key to finding bigger or more highly sought-after fossils like shark teeth is patience, practice and luck, Lindbom said.
One misconception about the park is that fossils can only be found among the cliffs. It is prohibited to go on the cliffs, Lindbom said, but there are plenty of fossils to be found on the beach at the park and any other public beach on the same stretch of the bay, including the beach at Flag Ponds Nature Park.
Formal fossil talks are scheduled each weekend on the beach during the summer, including at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3. Other events are scheduled during the Labor Day weekend, including a seining net demonstration on Sunday, Sept. 4, and a fossil talk on Monday, Sept. 5, both at 2 p.m.
Seasonal ranger Alicia Lindbom shows Riley Fehr, 3, of Catonsville different fossils that can be found on the beach at Calvert Cliffs State Park.