7/20/13 Patuxent Wildlife Refuge

posted Jul 18, 2013, 12:19 PM by Erik Thiele Orberg   [ updated Jul 18, 2013, 12:19 PM ]

This Saturday we're heading out to the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge North Track. This is an old military base turned wildlife refuge, and boasts a great route partly sunny, partly shady on a traffic-free paved road.


We're meeting at 8:00, a little later than usual since the refuge only opens then. Once you arrive, make sure to enter the visitor station and register for free access to the refuge. Make sure you follow directions to the North Track visitor center, and not the National Wildlife Visitor Center.

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From Baltimore: Take Baltimore/Washington Parkway (Route 295) South and take the MD Route 198 exit toward Fort Meade/Laurel. Then turn left on to Route 198 heading East and travel about 2 miles. Then turn right onto Bald Eagle Drive (at the ball fields) and travel 1 mile to the North Tract Visitor Contact Station.


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Here's a link to the official park map with more accurate mile marks: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/patuxent/FTP/NorthTractTrailsMapRevised08-25-2008.pdf

13 Mi (marathon)
  • Run on the wildlife loop as far as it goes. Turn around when you hit the fence, after approx. 6.5 Miles
7 Mi (half marathon)
  • Follow the wildlife loop but the turn-around might be a bit more difficult to find. For the first 3 Miles, you'll be running out in the sun. Once entering the shade - when running through the forest - your turnaround will be at the top of a long uphill, recognizable by sharp turn to the right immediately after.


  • There's water at the visitor station, and in addition I suggest carrying your own bottle to prevent the urge to drink from the Little Patuxent River at Mi 6.
  • No hunting allowed in the summer, so the entire park is accessible if you need extra mileage (there are additional trails).
  • Feeling sluggish in the heat? It takes approx. 10 days of running outside to acclimatize. Scale back on your expectations: you won't be able to run the same pace you're used to running in cool weather with the same effort.
  • Along those lines, don't run by pace, but by effort.
  • Pre-cool your body by drinking plenty of iced drinks before (or maxing out the AC in your car). During arun, splashing water on your neck and hair is a good strategy to cool off.
  • Don't skimp on electrolytes. Salt tabs, Gatorade or GU will do just fine, but don't exclusively hydrate on pure water.
  • Remember to sign-up for carpooling, whether you need or are offering a ride.