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Trips and Tips

Featured Events This Week


A note about COVID-19 and visiting parks: Help stop the spread of COVID-19 and follow all current directives from your governor and local health officials about wearing face masks and physical distancing.

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Harpers Ferry Hike Along River and Ridge

Meet at the park visitor center and ride the park shuttle to the lower town. From there take a guided  walk along the Shenandoah on Virginius Island before climbing a little piece of the Appalachian Trail on the flank of Camp Hill. Enjoy wintertime expansive and rocky views and possibly some wildlife. There will also be  some history along the way: ruins of mills that once bustled along the Shenandoah, Jefferson Rock and Robert Harper’s house. The walk will end in the town business district, where you may opt to join in for lunch and refreshments. Or, you can enjoy some of the special programs of Harpers Ferry’s 50th annual festival. Hike leader Chris Craig is a Certified Tour Guide in Harpers Ferry and a regular hike leader for the Sierra Club. This is a 2.5-mile, moderate hike on earthen trails, mainly flat, but with short, steep climbs. $10 donation per person; registration required. Dec. 4 and 11, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm; Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry, WVA. More information and registration.

Nature Nights and Holiday Lights

Enter an outdoor trail glittering with lights and holiday spirit at the Virginia Living Museum. Take a nature walk on the outdoor trail and through the Dinosaur Discovery Trail village!  This new experience is right in time for the holidays and is sure to put you and your family in the holiday spirit. Receive a candy cane treat, cookies and cocoa. Non-Members $12 – ages 2 and under are free. Nov. 26028, Dec. 2-5, Dec. 9-12, Dec. 16-29, Dec. 20-32, Dec. 26-30; Virginia Living Museum, Newport News, VA. Tickets and more information.

Forest Therapy

Join Seven Bends State Park guides for a Forest Therapy Walk and experience the health and wellness benefits of Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese practice of “forest bathing.” Your experience will include a two-hour walk that will typically be less than a mile in length, responding to different invitations to experience aspects of the natural world. The benefits include boosted immunity, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, improved attention and mood, and hitting the reset button on life. This program is reserved for ages 15 and up. Included with regular parking or admission fees. Nov. 27, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm; Seven Bends State Park, Woodstock, VA. More information.

Hike Juntos #OptOutside

Let's #OptOutside y hike juntos in a local green gem—the Patapsco Valley State Park. This is a 4-mile social walk with some hills. This will be a 4-mile walk on maintained paths. There will be some inclines, slopes, and rocks. This is a social hike; we will simply walk and hang out, and will take breaks as needed by the group. Nov. 27 8:00 am to 10:30 am; Patapsco Valley State Park, McKeldin Area, Marriottsville, MD. More info and map.

Chocolate and Soul Food

Join Stratford Hall for a virtual program featuring a short lecture, a cooking demonstration, and a discussion led by Director of Collections & Visitor Engagement, Dr. Kelley Fanto Deetz, joined by YouTube star Cheyney McKnight, historian/interpreter Nicole Moore, and commentary from historian Ramin Ganeshram. This program will demonstrate historical chocolate recipes and discuss how chocolate made its way into historical and contemporary African American cuisine. Free; registration required. Dec. 7, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. More information and registration.

Modern Evergreen Wreath Online Workshop

Just in time for the holidays, create a modern wreath design with fresh evergreens on a metal hoop.  Using a method similar to floral arrangement, combine local textures, shapes, and colors in your design. Many styles of wreaths and even garlands are possible with the wiring techniques covered in class. Open to beginners, or to students with more floral-design experience. This is a 1.5-hour Smithsonian Associates Zoom presentation, with instructor Arrin Sutliff. $45 for nonmembers. Dec. 8, 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm. More information and registration.

Saw-whet Owls of Maryland

Maryland's smallest owl, the Northern Saw-whet Owl, weighs less than a bar of soap, yet travels thousands of miles over its lifetime! Join Maryland Naturalist, Melissa Boyle Acuti, coordinator of the Project Owlnet at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center for a look into the lives of these tiny travelers as they pass through Maryland during their annual migrations. An Audubon Naturalist Society Zoom presentation. $15 for nonmembers. Nov. 30, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. More information and registration. 

#OptOutside at Irvine

This Black Friday, rather than shopping you can opt to enjoy the outdoors at the Irvine Nature Center. To inspire your day, Irvine will be hosting two naturalist-led events. There will be an Adult Nature Hike, on which you can enjoy the changing seasons, learn the history of the land and the biodiversity that can be found at the Nature Center. Nov. 26, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm; $5 per person. Or you can take a family-friendly hike to hunt for signs of the many mammals that call Irvine home. Nov. 26, 1:30 to 3:00 pm; $5/person or $20/family. Nov. 26, Irvine Nature Center, Owings Mills, MD. More information and registration.

Winter Magic

With frost on the grass and a chill in the air, winter is here! While many of our feathered and furry friends are bundled up and hunkered down for winter there is still magic to be found outside. Join Pickering Creek naturalists for a fun outdoor adventure filled with winter magic. Free. Dec. 2, 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm; Pickering Creek Audubon Center, Easton, MD. More information.

Holiday Greens Workshop

Join floral designer, and Adkins Arboretum docent Nancy Beatty to create an elegant centerpiece to grace your holiday table. Please bring a container and hand clippers. All other materials will be provided. Dec. 4, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm; Adkins Arboretum, Ridgely, MD. More information and registration.

Eagle Watch

Eagles love Belmont Bay at Mason Neck State Park and may often be seen soaring over the open water. Learn to spot the differences between birds of prey and look for them as they soar across the bay using the park’s long-range scope. If you’re lucky, you may be treated to a fantastic sunset like the one above. Free and open to all ages. Nov. 27, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm; Mason Neck State Park, Lorton, VA. More information.

Note: On Sunday the 28th you can also check to see if the tundra swans have returned to the Elizabeth Hartwell Refuge on the park’s Tundra Swan Hike.

Zoo Lights

Don’t miss this seasonal spectacle coming to the Maryland Zoo again this winter. Drive or walk through a festival of lights shaped like wildlife with the knowledge that you are supporting the Zoo’s animal care and conservation work. The Zoo has also expanded the walking path this year to include Schaefer Plaza, the Farm Yard, and the train station. Fri., Nov. 19 to Sun., Jan. 2; Maryland Zoo, Baltimore. More information and tickets.

Caledon Walk Off the Turkey Hike

Join a park ranger on a four-mile hike to work off all that turkey and stuffing from Thanksgiving. This program is free, but the park would like you to let them know you are coming by calling (540) 663-3861 or stopping by the visitor center. Free with standard park admission and open to all ages. Nov. 26, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm; Caledon State Park, King George, VA. More information.

Indigenous Names and Places of the Susquehanna

In honor of #NationalNativeAmericanHeritageMonth the Susquehanna Greenway  has put together a guide to the names and places throughout the Susquehanna Greenway that have their roots in American Indian languages and histories, serving as a reminder that many of the paths we walk today have been walked for thousands of years. For example, Loyalsock comes from the word “Lawi-Saquick,” meaning “middle creek,” in Algonquian. The Loyalsock Township Riverfront Park is located on the site of a former American Indian village called Ostonwakin, meaning “a rock,” which expanded into what is now Montoursville. Read Indigenous Names of the Susquehanna Greenway.

Accokeek Farm Tours

Take a tour through 1770 led by one of Accokeek farm’s educators. Learn the history of Piscataway Park and the Accokeek Foundation as you explore the grounds of the National Colonial Farm. Adventure through the history of a working tobacco farm and meet its two- and four-legged residents. Suitable for all ages. $7/person, registration required. Nov. 12 and 26 and Dec. 10, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm; Piscataway Park, Accokeek, MD. More information and registration.

Quiet Waters Ice Skating

The Quiet Waters ice rink will open on November 15th – weather permitting. The ice rink is located in front of the Visitor Center and offers a pleasant and safe environment to enjoy ice skating outdoors. Come out for fun with family and friends. The park has skates, helmets and walkers, and they sharpen skates on site. Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, MD. More information about park admission, rink, fees, and skating lessons.

Walking Off That Turkey Hike

Join Jug Bay volunteer and Maryland Master Naturalist, Mike Quinlan, for a exploratory walk in the sanctuary. Look for signs of the season like seed heads, cool weather plants, and scat, tracks, and mammals. Free with $6 per vehicle admission. Ages 10 and up welcome. Nov. 27, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm; Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Lothian. More information and registration.

Water’s Way: A Film About Our Watershed

Water’s Way: Thinking Like a Watershed, a film by Dave Harp and Tom Horton first premiered at the Chesapeake Film Festival on October 1, 2021. Take a journey through the rivers and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay to experience the watershed as it was before colonization, after humans ravaged it, and how it could be if we learn to think like a watershed. Learning to appreciate and emulate beavers may be a key to understanding how we might once again experience a watershed resilient to flood and drought and a Chesapeake clean and clear. Watch the full movie.

C&O Canal Aqueducts

There are so many scenic areas on the ….mile long C&O Canal that it is difficult to decide which portion of the canal for your next adventure. If you are after scenery, history, and feats of engineering you could always start with the canal’s iconic aqueducts, which include the Alexandria Aqueduct, Seneca Aqueduct, Monocacy Aqueduct, Catoctin Aqueduct, Antietam Aqueduct, Conococheague Aqueduct, Licking Creek Aqueduct, Tonoloway Aqueduct, Sideling Hill Creek Aqueduct, Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueduct, Town Creek Aqueduct, and the Evitts Creek Aqueduct. Read more about each of the aqueducts and their locations.

Hawk Watch

This is your chance to get hawk watching tips from the pros! Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory volunteers staff the hawkwatch at Kiptopeke State Park from sunrise to sunset everyday from September 1 to November 30 - weather permitting. Stop by at any time to learn about CVWO, the Kiptopeke hawkwatch, or just birds in general. Free and open to all ages. The Hawkwatch platform (pictured above) is staffed with volunteers from approximately sunrise to sunset from September 1 - November 30. Now until Nov. 30, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm; Kiptopeke State Park, Cape Charles, VA. More information.

Gettysburg History Hike: 3 Days in 90 Minutes

This free and open to the public ranger-led hike explores the people and places that made history at Gettysburg. Meet up with the ranger at Site 1 - behind the Museum & Visitor Center and hike to Cemetery Ridge where fighting raged on July 2 & 3, 1863. Get an overview of the battle, visit the site of Pickett’s Charge, explore the Bloody Angle, and walk in the footsteps of the men who struggled there. Monday through Friday, 10:30 am; Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 am and 1:30 pm; Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA. More information about this and other ranger-led hikes.

A River Rising

Curiously, sea level rise is occurring more rapidly in our corner of the planet – about twice as fast as global averages. The Potomac, a tidal river that flows into the more brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay, has risen 11 inches in the last century, well above the global average, prompting the Potomac Conservancy to produce an in-depth climate series on what our future holds for us and what can be done to prepare. Part 1, Global Versus Local Climate Trends, starts by confronting the tough realities that we face in an ever-warming planet and explores how the climate crisis is uniquely impacting the Potomac River and our communities. Part 2, A River Rising, investigates why the Potomac River region’s waters are rising faster than other waters around the world and explores the best solutions for mitigating increased flooding and storm surges.

Great Falls Walks and Birding

Learn about the Great Falls of the Potomac and the impact it had on our history on this 45-minute Falls Walk to Overlook 3 at the Great Falls Park. Find out how geology created the falls, the importance of the canal that bypassed the falls to our nation’s history, and much more. The walk covers level ground, and is about ½ mile in length round trip. This free 30-minute walk is offered every Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 pm. Meet at the Great Fall Visitor Center courtyard. On Sundays at 8:00 am join knowledgeable volunteers for a 2.5 hour Great Falls Bird Walk. Bird lovers of all skill levels welcome. Beginners will learn tips and tricks for spotting and identifying birds, while more experienced birders will enjoy observing species in a diverse environment.

Getting to Know Horses

The Greenwell Foundation has created a unique approach to horsemanship – learn about horses first in a series of lessons in which the participants are “unmounted.” Their unmounted program is designed to offer you and your family a fun, relaxing experience learning with horses. Each lesson will offer an opportunity to observe horse behavior, how to approach, halter and lead a horse, the fundamentals of horse care including grooming, anatomy, colors, and breeds, and concluding with a challenging obstacle course to lead your horse through.  There is a minimum of two participants, maximum of ten participants and will include one to four horses depending on number of participants. Minimum age is 5 years old. You can try a one hour session or opt for one session per week for four weeks. More information.

November 8, 2021

Main image: Maryland Heights, photo courtesy National Park Service/Cook
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