Beech trees, boardwalks, and bird blinds are the highlights of the South Tract's 5 miles of interconnected trails.

From the visitors center, start on the Fire Road trail. From there, it's a choose-your-own adventure (choose-your-own ecosystem, actually). Pick the Laurel and Valley Trails to stay in the quiet (and maybe enchanted? It felt enchanted) forest. Goose Pond trail is a short jut to a--yup--pond, where herons pose for instagram-worthy shots. Cash Lake loop is the star of the show. Nesting boxes and bird blinds surround the lake, and fisherman dreaming of largemouths line the pier. Floating trails lead you through expansive fields of lily-pads. Plan on animal encounters, bird sightings, and a deep feeling of gratitude to Franklin Roosevelt for setting this one aside. 

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Hiking boots
  • Sunscreen
  • Bugspray
  • Bird/Animal identification guide
  • Pups
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RT Distance 5 Miles
Activities Fishing, Photography, Running, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Handicap Accessible

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike the Cash Lake Loop - Patuxent Research Refuge Trail

Park in the lot off of Tram Route Rd (see map) to access the trailhead. This is a short, popular hike that is great for kids and is dog-friendly. Photos:Mr.TinDC, 

45 Saves

Hike the Lake Artemesia Natural Area Trail

Park in the lot off of 55th Ave to access the trail (see map). This trail is great for all skill levels, is handicap accessible and dog friendly.  Photos: Yngve Roennike, Justin Grimes, Mr.TinDC

57 Saves

Hike the Patuxent Branch Trail

Park in the lot by Savage Park to access this trail. Great for families, birding, and biking. This trail is accessible from May until October.  Photos: Jeff Kubina, Matt Tillett, David Heise

25 Saves