Elk Neck State Forest

​ May 14, 2024 Range Complex Update. Since January, units from across the department have been working on plans to repair the eyebrow and berm at the rifle range and to coordinate a previously scheduled project to replace all baffles at both the rifle and pistol range. It has been decided to postpone the baffle replacem​ent project to ensure their design will be effective with a new berm. Staff are now working to hire an engineer and subsequent range designer to ensure that the range complex provides the safest and best recreational opportunity for our visitors and one that is environmentally sound when operating. The engineer and range designer are needed to ensure that all upgrades and work completed conforms to National Rifle Association and Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for shooting range operations and best management practices.

UPDATE - Feb. 1, 2024:
​On December 19, 2023 Forest Service staff arrived at the shooting range complex and found that the backstop and eyebrow had failed and collapsed at the rifle range. The backstop and eyebrow are the last safety components to help ensure that discharged rounds do not leave the area and negatively impact surrounding communities. The rifle and shotgun ranges were closed immediately as they are located in close proximity to one another.

On January 10, 2024, Forest Service and DNR Engineering and Construction staff met to discuss repairs to the rifle range at Elk Neck State Forest. As a result of that meeting, department staff will be working towards developing designs with contracted shooting range design professionals with the intent to replace and improve the backstop and eyebrow which will enhance visitor and public safety.

As a result, the rifle and shotgun ranges will remain closed to the public for an extended period. However, given the popularity of the ranges, every effort is being made to have them back in operation as soon as possible. Staff will post updates as work progresses. The pistol and archery ranges will remain open during normal operating hours. Visitors are reminded that rifles and shotguns may not be used on either of those ranges during the closure period for the rifle and shotgun ranges.

Beginning January 1, 2024, The Shooting Range Complex at Elk Neck State Forest will be operating on new seasonal hours of operation as listed below:
Tuesday - Sunday
​March 2 through November 1 – 0900 – 1800 hrs
November 2 through March 1 – 0900 – 1600 hrs
Monday – Closed except on state/federal holidays
Please direct all questions or concerns to the forest office at (410) 287-5675.

​​Elk Neck State Forest Entrance SignContact: 410-287-5675

Cecil County

Elk Neck State Forest​
717 Irishtown Road
North East, MD 21901

Office Hours:
7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday – Friday

Mailing Address:

Black Hill Ranger Station
130 McKinneytown Road
North East, MD 21901


Elk Neck State Forest is an approximate 3,571 acre parcel of land situated in central Cecil County consisting of four separate tracts of land. Elk Neck State Forest is open to the public for hunting, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Shooting ranges for bow, hand gun, shotgun and rifle are also available to the public. Permits are accessed from a self-service honor system located at the Maintenance Complex. The forest supports a diverse habitat with mixed deciduous and evergreen trees and an understory of mountain laurel, azaleas and other native shrubs. Birdwatchers, including members of the Cecil County Bird Club, enjoy seasonally observing the forest's abundance of migratory birds. For those interested in wildflowers, the Forest is home to an abundance of natural fauna.

The Forest is open from sun rise to sun down each day. During periods of inclement weather, forest roads may be closed temporarily until they are safe for public use. The Forest will remain open with public parking available at the Main Entrance off of Irishtown Road.

On bad weather days, please call the Forest Office for current road conditions and temporary closures.