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 Tips 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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Pedal the Parkway

Celebrate National Park Week by biking, walking or running on a seven-mile portion of the Colonial Parkway that will be closed to vehicular traffic for three days. Park staff will close the Colonial Parkway to vehicle access between Hwy. 199/Kingspoint and Rt. 359 at Jamestown beginning at 7:00 am on Friday, April 23 and ending at 8:00 pm on Sunday, April 25. Restrooms and hand washing station will be available. April 24 is Junior Ranger Day and Pedal the Parkway participants can pick up Jr. Ranger booklets from Park Rangers outside the Yorktown Battlefield and Jamestown Visitor Centers. April 25 is BARK Ranger Day and pets are welcome to join you during Pedal the Parkway, just remember to bring bags for pet waste. All weekend activities are free and do not require reservations. More Pedal the Parkway information.

Lattes with Lambs: Lambapalooza

This year the Accokeek Foundation’s annual Lattes with Lambs festival will be a month-long celebration with in-person barnyard tours and online entertainment. Meet and greet the new lambs in Piscataway Park with an hour-long guided tour introducing you to the new lambs and calves born on site this year, as well as reconnecting with some old farm favorites like Sir Nigel the Hog Island sheep and Mayor Birdie the American milking Devon cow. You can also purchase a Lambapalooza Activity Kit and special merch. Starting in May check in here  for special online content and entertainment including music, art, tutorials, information from local farms and event partners, and of course, animal videos! Just to get you warmed up watch Spring Babies, last year’s video introducing the 2020 arrivals at the barnyard. Barnyard tours will be available May 1, 8, and 15 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm for $12 per person. Registration for barnyard tours.

Spring Migration Round-Up

Like adding a little friendly competition to your bird counting? Five Pennsylvania parks are competing to see which park can tally the most species between April 24 and April 30. Competing parks include: Bald Eagle State Park, Black Moshannon State Park, Canoe Creek State Park, Prince Gallitzin State Park, and Yellow Creek State Park. So birders, grab your bins and go birding at any (or all!) participating parks. Then submit your findings through eBird or available checklists. More information.

Fossil Shark Teeth Have Tales to Tell

Uncover the tales behind shark teeth with Calvert Marine Museum Paleontologist, Dr. Victor Perez. Join the online interactive talk to learn about the history of fossil collecting in Maryland, especially the fossil record of cartilaginous fish (sharks, rays, and chimaera). Learn how community scientists have played a major role in documenting the fossil record of Maryland, as thousands collect fossils every year throughout the state. Explore how the fossil data is used to analyze trends in biodiversity, evolution, and ecology. $15 for nonmembers. April 20, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. More information and registration.

The Wonderful World of Native Plants and Pollinators

The birds in our yards, the food on our plates and the money in our wallets all benefit from native plants and pollinators. Want to learn how? Join the Chesapeake Bay Program for a free, online open forum about all the benefits of native plants and pollinators. Learn from experts and take part in a discussion about the native plants in your garden, visiting pollinators and more. The free webinar will be via Zoom. April 20, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. More information and access code.

Junior Ranger Day at the Zimmerman Center

The Zimmerman Center for Heritage will be hosting a special Junior Ranger Day. Meet a Park Ranger for the National Park Service and complete activities to earn a badge. Participants will be guided through the program by National Park Service and Susquehanna Heritage staff. Activities include a scavenger hunt, hike to the adjacent Native Lands Park to learn about the Susquehannock Indians, and an exploration of sounds you hear in parks. The day’s activities are free but reservations are required. April 24, 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm; Zimmerman Center for Heritage, Wrightsville, PA.  More information and reservations.

Osprey Adventure Hike and Canoe

This adventure begins with a quick hike to spy on Leight Park’s resident osprey couple to see how their nest building is going. Then venture out in a canoe to watch these feisty fish hawks fly and feed in their element, on the water. $15 per person; ages 8 to adult, under 13 w/adult. More information and registration.

Vernal Pools: Teeming and Temporary

One of the best ways for the whole family to get in touch with nature in the spring is to visit a vernal pool…but don’t wait too long, like spring wildflowers they are fleeting. The National Aquarium’s Teeming and Temporary provides everything you need to know about the vernal pools of the Chesapeake Watershed, including a beautiful photo gallery to provide the inspiration! The DC Audubon Naturalist Society is also offering The Magic of Vernal Pools; Frogs, Fire Lizards, and Fairy Shrimp, a webinar that looks at crucial habitat for the reproduction of spotted salamanders, wood frogs, and fairy shrimp. $15 for nonmembers. April 14, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. More information and registration. 

Container Gardening for the Birds  

Just because you live in an urban setting and don’t have space for a garden doesn’t mean you can’t grow plants to attract and feed birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has tips on which plants are most beneficial for birds and how to master container gardening. Read more about container gardening to benefit birds.

Container Gardening Basics Webinar

Join Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia for a free webinar on container gardening basics, including growing flowers and vegetables in containers, bio-containers, growing medium, moisture, fertilizer, plant selection and care, and overwintering your potted garden. Trending topics will include container gardening with roses, citrus, and other fruits, shade plantings, porch pots, and more! April 23, 10:00 am to 11:30 am. More information and registration.

Wildscaping with Native Plants Webinar

Maryland DNR’s Kerry Wixted has recommendations for her top ten native plants for the Piedmont region of Maryland which includes Frederick County, based on ease of growth and wildlife value. Kerry will share tips on what to plant, how to convert lawn to garden while keeping neighbors happy and will address your concerns and questions. At the end of the webinar, we will share places in the Frederick area for purchasing native plants. Join us in learning more about how we can do our part to improve biodiversity right in our own yards. Free and hosted on Zoom. April 18, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Registration and more information.

Animal Family Day at Mount Vernon

Experience a rare opportunity to see sheep, ox calves, horses, and a hog during Animal Family Day at Mount Vernon. Learn about Mount Vernon’s animals and the jobs they performed in George Washington's time. Hear stories about the enslaved people who cared for the animals, such as Giles a coachman, Peter Hardiman a horse groom, and Kitty a spinner. Visit the 12-Acre Field to learn about Mount Vernon's heritage breeding program, enjoy fun activities such as story time, take home crafts. All activities included with the price of admission. April 24, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, VA. More information and tickets.

Camping Along the James Webinar

From the Alleghany Highlands and Blue Ridge Mountains, across Virginia’s piedmont and coastal plain, to the Chesapeake Bay, the James River basin is home to a variety of outdoor recreation activities. Join James River Association staff members and friends to learn about some of their favorite places to camp. From primitive campsites to cabins and glamping options, they will discuss a variety of camping options and tools for planning your next camping adventure. April 14, 5:30 pm. Registration and more information.

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.

Top Five Spring Ephemerals

Ephemeral: def.: lasting for a very short time, fleeting. It’s time to get outdoors and explore the amazing life happening before our eyes. Don't wait too long, you might miss it! With so many different spring wildflowers in the watershed it’s difficult to choose five favorites, but the Rock Creek Conservancy has chosen theirs. Hint: one is the above large photo and another is this entry’s inset. Read more about the Conservancy’s favorites.

Great Horned Owl: Three-Part Series

Chances are, there’s an owl or two living in your neighborhood. Great horned owls, top-of-the-food-chain predators, are found in every state except Hawaii and in very diverse habitats, including in close proximity to humans. But because they are nocturnal, have amazing camouflage, and are stealth fliers we don’t actually see them very often. Join Mark H.X. Glenshaw, aka the “Owl Man,” to learn how you can find these amazing and beautiful animals. This Smithsonian Associates series will include Hiding in Plain Sight on March 21, Mating, Nesting, and Owlets on April 18, and Hunting and Feeding on May 16. Each of the series is $25 for non-members or $55 for the entire series. 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.

Breakfast in the Barnyard

In a continuing effort to share the benefits of animal-watching, this Accokeek Foundation video of the daily breakfast routine at Piscataway Park should bring smiles to viewers of all ages. From filling the trough for rambunctious Ossabaw piglets, to providing fresh water for the ducks to bathe in, tossing fresh bails of hay to the herd of heritage cattle, and collecting eggs, the morning chores couldn’t be more fun. Watch Breakfast in the Barnyard.

April 12, 2021

Main image: Colonial Parkway, National Park Service photo
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