Trails & Natural Areas

The DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) is blessed with an abundance of wonderful trails and natural areas in a variety of environments. From hidden urban oases, remote mountain paths, and lazy beach strolls, we share some of our favorite local areas to explore the land we live in.  

Send us a few photos and a description of your favorite local trails:  earthstewardshipeast@gmail.com

CALVERT CLIFFS
STATE PARK

Eastern Shore of Maryland

Soft sandy trails lead through lush woodland forest to a boardwalk over a heron and egret patrolled estuary to the eroding cliffs and fossil rich beach. More experienced fossil hunters come after storms with sieves and shovels but even casual amateurs can dig up ancient shark and ray teeth. There's also an impressive tire playground at the parking lot making one more reason that this is a fantastic hike for young families. In late May and June an abundance of Mountain Laurel bloom along the trail.   Several areas afford excellent bird watching with eagle and osprey regularly patroling the sky.

$5 a car

10540 H G Trueman Rd,
Lusby, MD 20657

Blockhouse Pawpaw Trail

POtomac, Maryland

Check out the Pawpaw Trail at Blockhouse Point Conservation Park. Park on River Road near the intersection of Petit Way. Follow the Blockhouse Trail for 1.5 miles then take the short Pawpaw trail a quarter mile to a rock outcropping with a spectacular view of the Potomac River and the C&O Canal Trail. When the trees are not fully leafed out you can see all the way to Dickerson. There's a perfect rock outcropping to sit on and enjoy the view. 

14750 River Rd,
Potomac, MD 20854

Muddy Branch trail

Quince Orchard, Maryland

Sometimes the best things are hidden in plain sight.  That's often true of neighborhood trails.  The Muddy Branch trail is an oasis within a highly developed area of our county.  The trail is maintained by volunteers from the Muddy Branch Alliance.   www.muddybranch.org

The stream flows southwest for about 7 miles, through Muddy Branch Park and Blockhouse Point Conservation Park, under the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal near Pennyfield Lock, to the Potomac River.  Included in the watershed are portions of Gaithersburg, Rockville, North Potomac, Travilah, Darnestown and Washington Grove.  The Kentlands, Lakelands, the Rio, Tobytown and Dufief all share a common link in that the runoff from their properties all drain to the Muddy Branch.

The Muddy Branch Trail is 9 miles long with a 2.5 mile recent extension into Gaithersburg City.

The Muddy Branch Trail is 9 miles long with a 2.5 mile recent extension into Gaithersburg City.

McKee - Beshers 

Wildlife Management Area

In full bloom July 23, 2017, expected to last about two weeks.

In full bloom July 23, 2017, expected to last about two weeks.

Head northwest on River Road beyond Riley's Lock to find 30 acres of sunflower fields at McKee-Beshers.  A fun place for to walk for children and adults with lots of bumblebees and a few other pollinators visiting the flowers.  We even saw a bluebird.

KENILWORTH PARK & AQUATIC GARDEN

Northeast Washington DC

 

Kenilworth Park and Garden is a national park in the heart of Washington DC. Flat smooth trails meander through a collection of small pools filled with a stunning array of lotus, water lilies, and papyrus collected from around the world. The lotus flowers regularly grow over 6 feet tall. Native button bush line the walk, filling the path with butterflies and other pollinators. Beyond the gardens a boardwalk gives visitors a beautiful view along the Anacostia River.  

1550 Anacostia Ave NE,
Washington, DC 20019

Seneca Creek Greenway Trail

Montgomery County, Maryland

The natural beauty of Seneca Creek and woods is accessible through the Seneca Greenway Trail. If you live in Montgomery County, MD, the Seneca Creek watershed covers 28% of the county and has an average flow rate of 62 million gallons per day (measured at Route 28). The trail has been completely built and maintained by volunteers. It covers more than 15 miles from the mouth at the Potomac (at Riley's Lock) to Rt. 355. There's another 8 miles of trail to Watkins Mill. Additional trail areas are yet to be built.  

Photos below include native plants found along the trail in spring (Jack in the pulpit, mayapple, pinxter azalea).

 

Seneca Creek's first mill, dated ~1732, is located near Riley's Lock, tucked back in the woods on the North of the creek. Its ruins have an Indiana Jones feel -- fun to explore but watch for poison ivy. There were 19 mills built along Seneca Creek, considered the best mill stream in the county. Seneca Greenway Trail passes several interesting mill structures including Black Rock Mill below.

Ruins of Seneca Creeks' first mill circa 1732

Ruins of Seneca Creeks' first mill circa 1732

Kudos to the folks who cared enough to see that this natural area was preserved and built a trail so it can be enjoyed. 

C&O Canal

National Historic Park

www.nps.gov/choh

www.nps.gov/choh

A biking and hiking trail that extendss 184 miles, the C&O preserves America's early transportation history.   Consider doing more than taking a stroll along the C&O.  During the summer you can take a short ride on an historic boat at the Great Falls Tavern then hike along the Billy Goat Trail.  Currently the Great Falls Overlook trail is closed for renovation which means it's a great time to explore less used trails.

Consider traveling in time by staying overnight in one of the C&O lock houses.  Experience something of life from the past.  Bring along bikes or kayaks and explore the water and trails of the C&O Canal.   For information on renting a lockhouse for a night call 301-745-8888 or visit www.CanalQuarters.org.  We stayed at the Pennyfield Lockhouse which is delightfully secluded and thanks to its thick stone walls, cool even on a hot summer's day.