Trips and Tips

Featured Events This Week


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Jug Bay Hike

The May woods at Jug Bay are beautiful in the spring. This 3.5-mile, mostly easy walk along the shore  of the Patuxent River travels through a rich forest, along a stream, by a marsh and a swamp. The mountain laurel usually blooms around this time and osprey nest on platforms on the river. A boardwalk enables a visit with diverse life at the river's edge. This walk is best for adults and children 8 years old and older, accompanied by parent or legal guardian.  May 29, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Jug Bay Natural Area, Upper Marlboro, MD. More information and registration.

Introduction to Backpacking

Get a jumpstart into celebrating ‘Great Outdoors Month’ by joining a Ranger to celebrate National Trails Day! Listen to the songs of frogs as you learn backpacking basics and the many ways you can minimize your impact on the great outdoors. Reservations required. Day-use fees apply. June 3, 7 p.m.; Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis, MD  More information.

Jug Bay Bioblitz

Volunteer registration is now open for the first-ever Bio-Blitz at Emory Waters Nature Preserve! Join an  expert-led team to find, identify, and record as many species as possible during the 24-hour period. No prior training or experience is necessary to participate. Free; ages 8 and up. June 25 at 12 p.m. to June 26 at 12 p.m.; Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Lothian, MD. More information and registration.

Fredericksburg National Cemetery Luminaria

This annual luminaria has served as a poignant tribute to the fallen since 1996. The National Park Service will host the 27th annual luminaria at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, free and open to the public. The ceremony honors those who died in the service of this country. Local Scouts will light 15,300 candles in the cemetery – one for each grave there. In addition, a bugler will play “Taps” every 30 minutes during the evening as park staff posted throughout the cemetery relate stories about some of the soldiers. May 28, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m; Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Fredericksburg, VA. More information.

RetroFest on the Potomac

RetroFest on the Potomac brings you all things vintage, including classic cars and vintage boats, live music,  toys your parents/grandparents loved as children, a variety of fun retro family activities and crafts like tote bag tie-dye, pinup/greaser contest, sack races, tin can toss, the lighthouse temporar tattoo parlor, selfie station, hula hoops and more. Free shuttle transportation will be circulating; there will be no public parking at the museum except for vehicles displaying the appropriate disability parking permit. Tickets are on sale now for $10 per person (5 and under free) and include event admission and access to all museum sites and exhibits at Piney Point Lighthouse Museum. Tickets can be obtained at the door, purchased online or by calling Piney Point Lighthouse Museum at 301-994-1471. June 4, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Piney Point Lighthouse Museum & Historic Park, Leonardtown, MD. More information about the event.

Fort Monroe Commemoration of the Contraband Decision

A ceremony will be conducted by the Contraband Historical Society and the Fort Monroe Authority  marking the 161st anniversary of the May 24, 1861, “Contraband Decision” at Fort Monroe. The Contraband Decision was the first successful action by an official of the US Government to confiscate enslaved people from their enslavers. That action marked the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States. There will be a presentation on the life of Harry Jarvis, contraband and soldier, who liberated himself and then fought to liberate others. The ceremony will conclude with a candlelight procession from Cannon Park through the old fort’s main gate into “Freedom’s Fortress.”  Free. May 24, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Cannon Park, Fort Monroe, VA. Read more about the Contraband Decision.

Show Your Love for Rock Creek and Clean Water

The Rock Creek Conservancy works to collect weekly water quality data from May through September, by sampling for bacteria, turbidity, pH, and air and water temperature. Preliminary results, after the first two weeks of monitoring, have shown that bacteria levels in Rock Creek and its tributaries are quite high. This is why there’s a swim ban in all District waterways. If you are interested in helping collect water samples, there is one more online training opportunity. June 3, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. More information and registration. Other opportunities to contribute to Rock Creek Park: Weed Warrior Training Session, June 15 and 18 , Invasives Removal at Piney Branch on May 28 and Invasive Removal on Trail 9 on June 4.

Fife and Drum Camp

Registration is now open for Fort McHenry's free 2022 Fife and Drum Music Camp! The camp provides hands-on musical training and workshops with a history twist – participants ages 11 and older will experience what it was like to be a military musician during the War of 1812. This includes marching, military formations, musical instruction, flag raising, and much more. On the final day, students will get to show off what they learned with a performance for the general public at Fort McHenry. Students will receive official camp shirt, music, and a special memento. Registration must be submitted by May 27, 2022. More information.

Birding at the Blue Ridge Center

The Center, a future state park, has 894 acres of diverse habitat consisting of vernal pools, meadows, ponds, streams, and a rich oak-hickory forest in northwestern Loudoun. Not only does it border the Appalachian Trail, it is only a couple of miles from the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. It is a wonderful sanctuary for Loudoun wildlife with numerous bird species utilizing its richness. Read more about the new park, Sweet Run State Park.  May 28, 8 a.m., Blue Ridge Center, Purcellville, VA. Registration and more information.

Susquehanna Outdoor Expo

The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership is hosting an expo for all things outdoor. There will be exhibitors for disc golf, snow sports, climbing, outdoor cooking, fishing, nature photography, hiking and of course paddling of all sorts. You can also sign up for clinics on fly fishing, fishyaking, disc golf, climbing and paddling. The education tent will offer presentations of live birds of prey, American Indian culture, native plants, climbing advocacy and more. Admission is free. June 4, Shikellamy State Park, PA. More information.

Elk River Exploration Paddle

Early heads up on this one, which will fill up quickly. Explore the banks of Turkey Point Peninsula by paddling the Elk River with guides. Along the way, learn to identify some of the animals that call this watery habitat home. Meet next to the boat launch facilities in the Rogues Harbor Area. $20 per canoe; $15 per single kayak. Bring your own canoe or kayak for just $5 per person. June 18, 9 a.m.; Elk Neck State Park, North East, MD. Registration and more information.

Wild Foods Forest Walk

Join nutritional therapy practitioner Shane Brill for a guided tree walk of Adkins Arboretum exploring historical foodways and future food resources, including fruits, nuts, leaves, sap, and roots. Learn about cooking techniques to optimize nutrition and reduce toxins in common foods, and discover how a permaculture approach toward plant functions supports ecological stewardship, food security, and human health and vitality. Shane will also lead walks on July 24 and September 18. May 29, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Adkins Arboretum, Ridgely, MD. Registration and more information.

Lancaster Water Week Paddles

You’re invited to the Lancaster Conservancy during the 6th annual Lancaster Water Week for over 20 events to learn more about their work as we paddle, stomp, explore, volunteer, and take action to protect our streams and rivers for the future. Join the Conestoga River Club on a kayaking adventure down the Conestoga River. Cost is $15 per person and includes equipment and a shuttle back to the launch location. S. Conestoga Drive to Lancaster County Park paddles will be offered June 3, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 12. Registration. Rock Hill to Safe Harbor paddles will be offered June 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12. Registration.

Summer Steam Train Rides

Built in 1949, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway steam locomotive No. 1309 was built to handle the railroad’s heaviest coal trains throughout Kentucky and West Virginia. No. 1309 has been meticulously restored back in service by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, who is offering summer steam rides (in addition to the usual diesel rides) that include the Moonlight on the Mountain (available once a month on Friday) and Frostburg Flyer, typically available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday weekly. Train schedule and tickets.

Buffers & Boats Field Day on the James

Join the James River Association and their conservation partners to tour a local James River Buffer Program project, hear from partner speakers and enjoy a trip on the James. You'll get to tour a local James River Buffer Program project, hear from partner speakers about local water quality initiatives, hear from batteau historians and enjoy a free (optional) guided trip on the James! Registration is free and required for lunch and participation on river trips. May 26, 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Riveredge Park (across the James from downtown Lynchburg), VA Schedule and registration.

Hike: Balanced Rock Trail

Take a walk to the beautiful Balanced Rock and learn how the geology of the area put it there. On the way you’ll learn a little about the history of the park that put the area on the map. May 28, 1:00 pm; Trough Creek State Park, James Creek, PA. More information.

Meet the Beekeepers at Sky Meadows

What's that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects of beekeeping from hive construction to honey extraction. Discover how to set up and care for your own hives using historic and modern agricultural techniques. Free with standard parking fees. May 15, 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm (also June 19 and July 17); Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane, VA. More information.

Women on the Water

Enjoy a day of serenity spent with other women, submersed in the peacefulness of nature. Join Jug Bay for a  leisurely canoe paddle on the Patuxent River, where we will look for wildlife and flowering wetland plants along the shoreline. Enjoy a gourmet catered lunch at the historic Riggleman House, located on Jug Bay’s newest property. $40 per person fee includes naturalist canoe guides, all canoe equipment, gourmet lunch and park admission. A hike/walk in the woods will be substituted if weather conditions do not allow for canoeing. May 28, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm; Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Lothian, MD. More information and registration.

Now Booking! Sultana Public Paddles

Join the Sultana Education Foundation staff for a unique kayak excursion on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Choose from 16 great paddles, with themes that include a Blue Heron, Paddle, Bald Eagle, Oysters and Indians, Lotus, Mallows Bay Ghost Fleet, Full Moon, Turtle Paddle, and more. Paddling destinations include the Sassafras, Turner’s Creek, Tuckahoe State Park, Bohemia, Choptank, Blackwater NWR, and more. The first excursion is May 7, and the last is October 23. Paddles are 2.5 hours long and $30 per person.  Kayaks and gear are provided. Minimum age to participate is 12. These paddles are extremely popular and fill up fast. More information and registration.

Pontoon Outings on the James

The James River Association is kicking off another great season of boating with your choice of a pontoon birding excursion or a pontoon sunset cruise. The Pontoon Boat Outing and Bird Tour will take you up the tidal freshwater section of the James to the mouth of Chickahominy River – an Audubon Important Bird Area, for a chance to see quail, turkey, prothonotary warbler, bald eagle, osprey, and kingfisher.  March 26 and June 11. Join fellow river enthusiasts and learn about the natural and historic resources of the James River on the Sunset Pontoon Boat Tour departing from Hopewell on March 30. More information and registration.

May 22, 2022

Main image: Photo by Mohammed Mubashir, courtesy Maryland DNR