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.

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.

Sign up to get weekly tips and notifications of events, both in person and virtual, delivered directly to your inbox.

View this week's Events newsletter.


Mid-Week Meanders on the C&O Canal

Join the Audubon Naturalist Society of Northern Virginia for one or more of their leisurely autumn walks along portions of the C&O Canal which see less foot and bicycle traffic during the week than on weekends. The focus of the walks will be the natural history of the varied habitats along the Potomac River and the Canal. Participants can expect to proceed at a “naturalist’s shuffle” pace, stopping often to observe birds, fall wildflowers and foliage, butterflies, snakes, turtles—whatever comes along. C&O locations include Widewater, Carderock, Violettes Lock, and Pennyfield Lock. Members $30; nonmembers $42. Sept. 22 and 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20, and 27. November Meanders will be added to this schedule in early October. More information and registration.

Pennsylvania Elk: Reclaiming the Alleghenies

The Pennsylvania elk herd is more than 1,000 animals and is expanding its range into areas in or near Parker Dam State Park. Watch an 85-minute video in its entirety at Parker Dam State Park and learn about Pennsylvania elk history, reintroduction, and management. Make a full day of it by visiting Parker Dam State Park earlier in the day before the evening video.  The park is surrounded by Moshannon State Forest where wildlife thrives in unbroken wilderness. A drive on Tyler Road might yield a coyote, fox, bobcat, and free-ranging elk (September and October are the best months to see elk.) Note: Never approach elk, especially during the autumn rutting season. In addition, The Elk Country Visitor Center is a 30-minute drive away and features interactive displays and great elk viewing opportunities. If you have more time, the Central PA Elk Scenic Drive and makes another great destination. Parker Dam video: Sept. 25, 7:30 pm; Parker Dam State Park, Penfield, PA. More information.

St. Marys Riverfest

Celebrate the St Mary's River at the 16th Annual RiverFest, taking place at Historic St. Mary's City. Enjoy live music, try kayaking and seining, see tall ships, and enjoy boat rides and other environmental activities. Visit exhibits about local flora and fauna and take home a free Bay-friendly backyard booklet. Come face-to-face with birds of prey, turtles, oysters and other seldom-seen neighbors. Join the ceremonial Wade-In for Clean Water with Bernie Fowler at 1:45 pm. The St. Maries Citty Militia will hold their annual muster in conjunction with RiverFest. March along as militia men practice drills, perform a mock battle and musket demonstration. Rain or shine; free admission. Sept. 25, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; Historic St. Mary's City Museum. More information.

Hike Machicomoco, Virginia’s Newest State Park

Machicomoco is an Algonquian word meaning “special meeting place.” Machicomoco spans 643 acres and is bounded by the York River, Timberneck Creek, and Cedar Bush Creek. Visit Virginia’s newest state park and enjoy a guided hike through forests and meadows to Timberneck Creek. The hike will be about 2.4 miles and will launch from Rockwood Nature Center. Oct. 7, 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. For more information call Mark Battista at 804-318-8735 or [email protected] Register at least one week before the program.

Mount Harmon Colonial Faire

Travel back in time and enjoy hunting for handcrafted treasures at the open air Mount Harmon Colonial & Artisan Market Faire. Handmade colonial and artisan crafts and collectibles will be on display for purchase, enjoy hearth cooking demos, colonial encampment, manor house tours, and the Eastern Shore Food Court and Tavern. $10 per person; children 12 and under free. Sept. 25, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sept. 26 10:00 am to 3:00 pm; Mount Harmon Plantation, Earleville, MD. More information and tickets.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Tours & Canoe Trips

Experience an insider's view of SERC, on a free outdoor walking tour led by volunteer docents. Walk along the waterfront, cross marsh boardwalks and hike through the forest, while learning about SERC’s cutting-edge research projects on climate change and other issues where the land meets the sea. Tours are available Sept. 22, 25, and 29. Public canoe trips are also available on Oct. 16 (2.5 hours), Oct. 23 (4 hours), and Oct. 30 (2.5 hours). $18 to $25 depending on age and length of tour. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD.

America’s Founding Fish

American shad was once one of the most important fish species in the James River. Once abundant, decades of overfishing, pollution, industrial water intakes, and dams have severely hurt the James River shad population.  The James River Association is presenting a webinar reliving the  stories of past shad abundance and its cultural significance, and discussing the current status of shad and restoration and protection efforts. Sep 29, 5:00 pm; registration required. More information and registration.

Old Growth Forest Hike

Join a Caledon State Park   ranger for a guided exploration of the old growth forests in the western side of the park which is rich with oak and poplar trees. Discover why these tree giants have been left untouched and how old they really are. There will be variable and steep terrain. Come prepared with good hiking/walking shoes, water, and bug spray. Free with $5 parking fee. Sept. 24, 9:30 am to 12:00 pm. More information and registration.

Dyke Marsh Birding

Join the Audubon Naturalist Society for a teaching walk at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve   in Northern Virginia. The walk will be mostly level and aimed at beginning to mid-level birders, but all are welcome. Over 250 species of birds have been seen at this park, and recent eBird sightings include mallards, mourning doves, Caspian terns, great egret, bald eagle, and red-shouldered hawks. Sept. 25, 7:30 am to 10:00 am; Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Alexandria, VA. More information and registration.

Public Lands Bike Ride

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Public Lands rides seek to celebrate and showcase the wealth of public parks and forests across the state, bringing awareness to public lands as an invaluable resource for us to protect and enjoy. This year, the council is promoting both an in-person event at Black Moshannon State Park and the release of six new routes in different state forests which you can ride at any time on your own. The in-person ride will be based out of the beach area at Black Moshannon State Park, with three different route options — 25, 45 and 65 miles on mostly gravel roads with a few sections of grassy doubletrack mixed in. Oct. 2, Black Moshannon State Park, Philipsburg. More information on both the in-person and additional routes and registration for the Oct. 2 ride.

Marshy Point Fall Festival

Celebrate fall at the 13th annual fall festival at Marshy Point Nature Center in Baltimore. Enjoy live music, animal talks, hay rides, apple cider pressing, food, and more! Canoe and boat trips available, too (weather and tide permitting). Event is rain or shine! Free parking and admission. Sept. 25, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm; Marshy Point Nature Center, Baltimore. Sept. 25, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm; Marshy Point Nature Center, Baltimore. More information.

Susquehanna Pop-Up Paddle

The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership is hitting the river again this fall! Join them for the next Susquehanna Pop-Up Paddle, a 12-mile excursion from Montgomery to Milton. It's a great opportunity to explore the Greenway and the West Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail. When: October 9, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. $20 for adults, $15 for children under 13. Limited kayaks and canoes are available for $35 / single, and $45 / tandem. Oct. 9, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm; Montgomery, PA. More information and reservations.

Sharks! Sink Your Teeth In! Lecture Series

The Calvert Marine Museum’s new exhibit, Sharks! Sink Your Teeth In! explores the diversity of the west Atlantic’s cartilaginous fish, past and present. To go along with the exciting new exhibit the museum is hosting a four-part lecture series about miocene and other sharks, shark teeth and what they tell, apex predator megalodons, and more. Sept. 16 and 30, Oct. 21, and Nov. 4; 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The lectures are free and open to the public. More information.

Urban Wildlife Conservation Celebration

Join Masonville Cove in Baltimore for a two-day celebration of Wildlife Conservation Day with outdoor games, fishing, birding, bird banding, Rodney’s Raptors, kayaking and family-friendly activities. Free guided kayaking will be available for ages 13+, space is limited so be sure to pre-register. Sept. 25-26, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm; Masonville Cove, Baltimore. More information and registration.

Birding While Boating

This is a great opportunity to enjoy an hour-long cruise on the Susquehanna aboard the paddlewheel riverboat Hiawatha and learn about various bird species that frequent local  waterways. Dan Brauning, from the Lycoming County Audubon Society, will help lead a session. The class will include a birding experience from the boat, so bring binoculars and any field guides you may have. $10 per person. Sept. 28, 9:45 am to 10:45 am. More information and reservations.

Fall Flights of Feathered Friends

There are more birds to be seen during autumn than any other time of year, and Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills is an unusually good place to explore the diversity of east coast birds, both resident and migrating. Become better acquainted with the field marks, habits, and timing of dozens of migrating species which pass through Irvine's woods, meadows, and wetlands every fall, enroute to warmer climes to the south. Beginning birders are welcome. $10 per class. Offered Sundays, September 26, October 10, and October 24, 8:00 am to 10:00 am; Irvine Nature Center, Owings Mills, MD. More information and registration.

Virtual Butterfly Festival

The Norfolk Botanical Gardens is celebrating the butterfly migration with four virtual Zoom presentations and one in-person event in September. The first in the series is Butterfly 101: A Look at Virginia Butterflies and Their Caterpillars on September 20. Learn about butterfly anatomy and life cycle, study some of the most common species found in Tidewater Virginia, and talk about what is necessary to attract them to your yard. Next on September 21, learn how to attract butterflies to your backyard and what plants make good hosts for their caterpillars. On September 22 learn ways to attract and identify moths and also how to find and identify their caterpillars. It is a great preview for anyone signing up for the in-person Moth Night at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens on September 23. Mesmerizing Monarchs and their Migration is the final class on Sept. 24. Norfolk Botanical Garden, Norfolk, Virginia.

Monarch Tagging at Pickering Creek Audubon

There will be two dates in September to join in monarch tagging with Pickering Creek naturalists. Witness the incredible migration of the monarch while exploring the trails on the 410-acre wildlife sanctuary. Participate in the University of Kansas’s widespread Monarch Watch tagging program and learn how to protect monarch habitat in your backyard or community. $5 per person. Sept. 22 and 30, 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm; Pickering Creek Audubon, Easton, MD. More information and registration.

Monarchs Rule Exhibit

Sky Meadows State Park has joined the national Save the Monarch initiative and is raising monarch caterpillars collected in the park. By collecting and raising monarch caterpillars indoors, their chance of survival and turning into butterflies increases by 80%. Stop by the park Visitor Center to see the amazing transformation of monarch caterpillars into butterflies from now until September 30 between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Friday and 10:00 am and 5:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane, VA. More information.

Raptors on the River Floating Classroom

Learn all about raptors while cruising the Susquehanna River on a paddlewheel riverboat. Falconer Mike Dupuy will share a live raptor demonstration, talking about raptors found along the river and connected to our watershed. There will also be some instruction on raptor identification and a look into major issues facing raptors in our region. $10. Sept. 21, 10:00 am to 11:00 am; aboard the Hiawatha, near Williamsport, PA. More information and reservations.

Batteau Trips on the James

The James River batteau was originally designed by Anthony and Benjamin Rucker in 1775 as a cargo boat to transport goods throughout the Commonwealth via the James River and its tributaries.  Join the James River Association to experience a ride on a period-correct replica of a James River batteau. These large 40+ feet long vessels were once used to move people and freight up and down the James River before the canals and railroads came through and made them obsolete . The ride will last about an hour and will take you on a tour of the downtown Lynchburg corridor of the James River, as well as lots of wildlife to spot. $25 per person (max of 8 per trip); ages 6+, under 18 must have a guardian participate. Trips are available now through September 26; Friday through Sunday at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Batteau schedule.

Harpers Ferry Lantern Tour

Discover the stories of three people whose names are not well-known, but whose involvement in John Brown’s raid and the Civil War contribute to the meaning of freedom. This short and easy  walk will be less than one hour and include John Brown’s Fort, the Point (Confluence of rivers), and the Fort obelisk. Participants are advised to bring a flashlight. $10 donation per person. October 2, 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry, WVA. More information and registration (required).

Maryland Dove Symposium

Possibly the highlight of the fall season at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is its virtual Maryland Dove Symposium. The current Maryland Dove has served as Historic St. Mary’s City’s floating ambassador since 1978. Cambridge shipwright James B. Richardson worked with a handful of assistants over 15 months at his boatyard off the Choptank River to build the vessel. The five-part symposium will consider the legacy of the iconic tall ship, as well as the future of the new vessel currently being worked on at the museum’s shipyard (with a targeted launch of spring 2022). $7.50 per session. September 29, October 6, 13, 20, and 27. There will also be a Maryland Dove Shipyard Tour every Thursday in October. More information and registration. 

Take a Mystery Train or Ice Cream Train Trip

Enjoy a first class dinner and help solve a mystery on board during this three hour excursion on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Murder Mystery trains depart Cumberland and feature an evening of $133 includes dinner and three hours of comedic improvisation and interactive murder mystery fun. Or experience the brand new Ice Cream Train. Check-in at the beautiful station in downtown Cumberland, select an ice cream flavor, then board the train for a fun 35 minute round trip through The Narrows and back. Tickets are only $10.00 and ice cream is included. More information and tickets.

Start Your Own Oyster Garden

In the virtual class that is being presented by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, you will learn the practical aspects of oyster gardening, and why oysters are so important for the Bay’s health. You can also follow this virtual class with the in-person workshop to be held at the CBMM campus and construct your own oyster cages. The virtual only class is $25; the full workshop is $200 and includes the virtual class, three cages, and seed oysters. Virtual presentation: Sept. 22, 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. In person: Sept. 25, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. More information and registration.

Paddle and Overnight Camping Trip

Join staff from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for a leisurely three-hour paddle through one of the largest surviving and northernmost natural stands of bald cypress trees on the East Coast. Trap Pond State Park has 3,653 acres to explore by land and water and hosts a large campground, hiking and biking trails, and a disc golf course. This paddle is good for the beginner and intermediate kayaker. There are options for day or overnight and cost for BYOB or kayak rental included.  10:00 am Sept. 25-26; Trap Pond State Park, Laurel, DE. More information and registration.

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.

2021 Downrigging Festival Tickets Now Available!

Now in its 21st year, the Sultana Education Foundation’s Downrigging Weekend Festival is one of the largest annual tall ship gatherings in North America. The festival features three days of Tall Ship sails, tours, incredible live bluegrass music, lectures, exhibits, family activities, regional food and more. Tickets sell fast, so don’t wait too long if you want to attend this amazing festival. Oct. 29-31; Chestertown, MD. Downrigging website and tickets.

Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea

Artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi is a global changer, creating art out of actual thrown out plastics and trash littering our beaches and oceans. By displaying her incredibly innovative artwork, the Norfolk Botanical Garden is hoping to spread the word that 300 million pounds of plastic is produced globally and less than 10% is recycled, eventually reaching our oceans and threatening marine life. On display now, until October 31 at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. More information.

Beautiful Parkers Creek Canoe Trips

The American Chestnut Land Trust has been dedicated to protecting, caring for and sharing land within the Parkers Creek watershed, one of the last remaining pristine watersheds on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The Trust offers canoe trips through this very special area throughout the summer. Paddles are already booked up until August 14, leaving six more paddles available through October 20. These are not easy paddles, so be sure to read the description of trip challenges. More information and reservations.

Get Back on the Tracks!

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is back in action, and now offering five different ways to enjoy a train ride: Standard Coach, Deluxe Coach, First Class Dome, and First Class Lounge, and you can now enjoy the breeze as you head up the mountain in the brand new Open Air Car. Details on the different travel options here and complete schedule here.

Set Sail on Wilma Lee

The Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Wilma Lee is one of only a few remaining Chesapeake Bay Skipjacks. Public cruises are available from April through October and include an opportunity to view the Wednesday Night Races, fireworks, trips to Thomas Point Lighthouse, sunset cruises, and a chance to experience Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay like never before on a guided two hour heritage cruise. More information and reservations.

Anacostia River Tours

As part of the Anacostia River Discovery Series, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history of the Anacostia River, observe wildlife in their natural habitats, and get out on the water. The Anacostia Watershed Society will be hosting recreation activities every Thursday evening and some Saturdays of every month from May - October, including Canoe Tours and Motorized Boat Tours. Register soon, tours are filling up fast! More information and the summer of 2021 schedule.

Guided Kayak Tours

Would you like to experience the wonders of the wetlands via kayak?  A certified naturalist/kayak guide will lead you through basic kayak instruction and then on to a paddle to explore the watershed of Marshy Creek at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville, Maryland. There’s a good chance of encountering wading birds, waterfowl, migratory raptors, otter, muskrat, terrapin turtles, mating cownose stingrays, and more!  Tours can be scheduled for both beginner and intermediate level kayakers. $20 for nonmembers. Dates (beginning May 23)  and registration.

Music in the Park

Pocahontas Premieres is a music series with something for everyone. From oldies and Motown to classic rock and current country, the series brings big-arena experiences to Virginia’s most visited state park. All shows are held at the Heritage Amphitheater. Performances include the Richmond Symphony (free), a bluegrass festival, and the Latin Ballet of Virginia (free). Tickets, including free presentations, must be purchased in advance.  May 28 to October, 2; Pocahontas State Park, Chesterfield, Virginia. Complete schedule and tickets.

Kayak Rental Season Opens at Hoffler Creek

Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve in Portsmouth, Virginia is a 142-acre sanctuary for urban wildlife, including deer, foxes, river otters, crabs, oysters, and over 200 species of birds. Though it is tidal, Hoffler Creek is generally flat water, making it accessible to novice and seasoned paddlers alike. Beginning May 1, both individual and tandem rentals will be available daily from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. Pricing is per kayak per hour. More information, rates, and reservations.

Forever Maryland Webinar Series

This year the Forever Maryland Foundation’s webinar theme is “Preserving for a Purpose” and will address issues and topics related to the future of land conservation in our region and will help further the Forever Maryland Foundation’s mission of collaborative ventures to increase the connection between the people and the land. The first of the series will be Personal Resilience: The Mental & Physical Benefits of Open Space on March 31. The program runs through the fall of 2021, and other topics include pollinators and backyard habitat, climate change and agriculture, urban agriculture, and soil and climate change. More information and registration.

Reserve Now! Connect with the James Paddles

The James River Association has just posted its schedule for their Connect with James public paddles for the 2021 season. The first guided paddle will be an exploration of Turkey Island by canoe on March 20. Other paddles in March include Explore James River National Wildlife Refuge by Canoe, Pontoon Boat Tour and Fish Trawl at Herring Creek, and Explore Four Mile Creek by Canoe. More information, schedule, and booking.

Sultana 2021 Public Paddles Epic Line-Up

After a long year indoors, Public Paddles are an incredible way to get outside and beat the winter blues! Discover local waters, learn the history and ecology of the area, all while meeting new people and socializing in a safe distanced way!  Most paddles take place on Maryland’s upper Eastern Shore, and each paddle features a unique theme. Paddles are 2.5 hours long at $30 per person. Kayaks and gear are provided so all you need is water, a snack, and your binoculars! Minimum age to participate is 12. The Foundation is taking extra steps to ensure the safety of its staff and program participants. Social distancing guidelines will be followed, each paddle will be kept to 8 participants on various days throughout the week. The season kicks off on May with the Blue Heron paddle, but don’t delay these paddles book quickly.  Complete lineup and registration information.

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.

September 13, 2021

Main image: National Park Service photo
Older Newer