Purse State Park

Quick Facts

Purse State Park


(301) 743-7613

Map Directions

Things To Do



This small park is situated at Wades Bay on the Potomac near Smallwood State Park. The land--about 100 acres along the river--was deeded to the State of Maryland by Dr. Purse, who specified that it was to remain in an undeveloped state. Maryland has complied, and other than a few hunting blinds, the park as no other facilities. It does have several trails that lead to the Potomac. A short hike from a small parking area leads to a sand and pebble beach that features excellent fishing in season. The park also has some of the finest Miocene fossil hunting in Charles County. Shark teeth are the most common fossil to be found as they wash up on the beach. Visitors may sift the sands for fossils, but digging or disturbing sensitive areas is not permitted. The park is open sunrise to sunset, and hunting is permitted during posted seasons.

Access to the Potomac requires a 1/4 mile portage along a trail. There is parking for approximately eight vehicles; there is no fee. The site is described on the publication Water Trails in Charles County

Purse is a part of the Aquia Formation which formed in the Paleocene Era about 60 million years ago when a gigantic meteor hit the earth. This area was covered with warm shallow water which made it a suitable habitat for sand tiger sharks, mackerel sharks, Turritella (snails) and Eagle Rays more specifically Cownose Rays which all lived during this time period.

Map of Purse (MD)

Latitude, Longitude: 38.429656, -77.252512



  • Fishing

    Fishermen will need a Bay Sport (Tidal) Fishing License to fish this area. Wades Bay is a great fishing location for carp, large mouth bass, white perch and many other fish species. During the summer months Wades Bay tends to fill with submerged aquatic vegetation often making fishing a challenge.

  • Hiking

    There are a couple of unmarked, hunter created trails on the same side of the road as the parking area that bird watchers enjoy walking. These trails meander through a forested area and along the edge of a small wetland. Note: These trails are not marked and you should come prepared with map and compass when using unmarked trails.

  • Hunting

    Hunters are limited to 10 in the area at any given time. The sign-in box for hunters is located next to the parking area. There are several unmarked, hunter created trails on the same side of the road as the parking area. Waterfowl hunting is at its best during the final part of the season.

    Fossil hunting has become a popular activity at Purse. Fossilized sharks teeth, bones and shell fragments are often found at low tide in the rocks and sand along the waters edge. Check the tides before you come. At high tide there is very little beach available. For tide tables, check http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/tides/index.asp



Follow Route 301 south to Route 225 west. At intersection of Route 225 and Route 224, take a left on Route 224. Stay on Route 224 for approximately 15 miles. Purse has a dirt parking lot right along the road side. The trail to the beach is across the road from the parking lot.

Phone Numbers


(301) 743-7613