Anita C. Leight Estuary Center

Anita C. Leight Estuary Center

As one of the facilities of Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation, the center's mission is to increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of estuarine ecosystems through research, monitoring, and education.

Otter Point Creek is one of the few remaining large freshwater tidal marshes in the upper Chesapeake Bay accessible to the public. It is a shallow tributary located at the headwaters of the Bush River in southern Harford County, MD. The Otter Point Creek Component consists of two land areas (Leight Park and the Melvin G. Bosely Conservancy) connected by 261 acres of shallow open water. Leight Park is 93 forested acres owned by Harford County Parks and Recreation and home to the Estuary Center. The Bosely Conservancy is 350 acres of tidal marsh and wooded wetlands owned by the Izaak Walton League of America – Harford County Chapter.

Through our partnerships with Harford County and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR), we offer public, private/group, and school (including home school) programs. Program activities include canoeing, kayaking, pontoon boating, crafts, hiking, education, animal encounters, and research.

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Image Credit: Anita C. Leight Estuary Center staff


Monday through Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Sunday: 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


Entrance to the Center and Park are free, as well as many of the public programs. Some special programs have a nominal fee, such as about $3-5 per person. Boating programs have a fee. Canoe/Kayak: $12/person; Pontoon boat: $10/person


Located on the shores of Otter Point Creek, the Estuary Center is open to the public Thursday through Sunday, year round.  Join them for one of our many public education programs or events, including sunset canoe trips, blooming marsh kayak trips, Critter Cruise pontoon boat rides, and many other hands-on family science and nature programs.  Get wet and muddy as you volunteer to assist with our research and monitoring efforts like fish seining, turtle tracking, or marsh plant surveys.  Stroll through the Visitor Center's hands-on exhibits to learn about Chesapeake Bay ecology and other fascinating facts about the local flora and fauna.  Explore the Discovery Room, home to a 300-gallon freshwater turtle pond and other amazing critters.  Or just meander the 2 miles of hiking trails through dappled upland forests of black gum and maple trees.  No matter what you choose, just make sure to come see what the Estuary Center has to offer the whole family!


Last updated: November 10, 2020