Frequently Asked Questions
What pavilions are available for rental and how may I rent them?
Downs Park has three large pavilions which each accommodate approximately 100 persons. These pavilions are named Brightwater, Tanglewood and Fernwood. There is also a smaller pavilion, Arcadia, which will hold approximately 50 people. Reservations may be made for the current calendar year by calling the park office at 410-222-6230. You will then have two weeks in which a group representative can come into the office and sign the pavilion permits as well as pay the permit fees. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
What are the procedures for holding a wedding in Downs Park?
A portion of "Mother's Garden
" has been designated as the wedding nook. Wedding parties may book this area for wedding ceremonies during the current calendar year by calling the park office at 410-222-6230. You will then have two weeks in which a group representative can come into the office and sign the wedding permits as well as pay the permit fees. If you wish to have your reception in a park pavilion you must book the pavilion separately.
Is fishing allowed in the park?
Yes, Downs Park has a handicap accessible, 330 foot fishing pier that extends over the Chesapeake Bay. For persons age 16 - 64, a Chesapeake Bay Sport fishing license is required. Licenses are not sold at the park, but are available at most nearby sport fishing stores.
Is swimming allowed at Downs Park?
Sorry, swimming is not allowed. The beach is available for activities that do not involve going into the water, ie. fishing and sunbathing.
What are the trails like at Downs Park?
The park has about 5 miles of paved trails. The trails are relatively smooth blacktop surface and 8 foot in width. The main perimeter path is 3.5 miles long and crossed Pinehurst road near the gatehouse and again on a footbridge on the Northern part of its loop. The perimeter trail is marked with red markers and mileage is marked in tenths of a mile. The Senior exercise trail is a paved 1.8 mile loop that follows the perimeter trail to the gatehouse and then loops back to the Information Center. The Senior exercise trail is marked with green markers and has about a dozen exercise stations along its length. All the paved trails are suitable for walking, jogging, biking and rollerblading. In addition, there are several miles of natural paths throughout the park. These less used paths are great for nature study or just to get away for a while.
Are there athletic courts available at the park?
Two basketball courts are available on a first come first serve basis.
What are the youth group camping facilities like and how do I rent the site?
The Youth Group Camping Area is available to be rented by organized youth groups such as scouts. It is not available for family camping. Reservations must be made in advance. Call the park office at 410-222-6230 for rental information.
Tell me about the vehicle entry fees?
Vehicles entering the park must either display a valid yearly/lifetime permit or pay the daily vehicle entry fees. The yearly permit is a small sticker which is permanently affixed to the driver's side front bumper of the vehicle. Persons age 60 and over may obtain a lifetime vehicle entry permit which is a card that must be shown along with valid ID to gain vehicle entry. There are also daily fees for those not wishing to obtain a yearly permit. Vehicle entry permits may be obtained at the gatehouse. Permits are also sold at the Park Information Center.
How may I get help when I'm visiting the park?
Park rangers are on duty whenever the park is open. During business office hours (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.) the park office is open in the Park Information Center. The attendants at the entrance gatehouse also have radio and telephone contact with park rangers.
I'm an early riser. Can I get in early to take a jog?
For early risers the park opens at 7:00 a.m. everyday except closed on Tuesdays.
What are the volunteer opportunities at the park?
Volunteer opportunities are as broad as your imagination and skills will accommodate. Volunteers are involved in conducting programs, assisting with special events, park maintenance, clerical duties and many other activities. See a park ranger for details. There are also several organized volunteer efforts at the park:
Friends of Downs Park, Inc.
The Friends of Downs Park is a non-profit (501c3) organization of volunteers who support Downs Park through their volunteer, fundraising and advocacy efforts. Meetings, which are open to everyone, are held on the third Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at the Downs Park Information Center. Visit Friends of Downs Park, Inc.
The Downs Park Garden Society has restored a Victorian style garden which originally graced the property in the early 1900's. The garden volunteers restored and continue to care for "Mother's Garden".
The quilting group meets on Fridays during the school year from September to May in the Chesapeake Room, which is located on the lower level of the Information Center. Anyone with an interest in quilting is invited to attend. There will be teaching programs, knowledge sharing, and fellowship. On the first Friday of the month they have a brief business meeting with refreshments, followed by "Show and Tell". For more information, please contact the park office at 410-222-6230.
Downs Park Walking Club
Join the Downs Park Walking Club. Members will receive an embroidered patch and a register to keep track of mileage. When you have walked 180 miles, the length of the Chesapeake Bay, an additional patch will be added. Only record the miles you walk within Downs Park. There is a one-time registration fee. For additional information contact the Downs Park office at 410-222-6230.
What are the photography policies at the park?
We have procedures for photography sessions at all of our parks. Please visit the procedures page
for additional information.