Laid bare of its sound-absorbing foliage, the forest of lanky hardwoods becomes a cacophony of sound. On this cool morning, the leaves crunch underfoot and rustle nearby as a squirrel digs for hidden treasure.
The din of a waterfowl gathering in the Great Marsh, though still a hundred yards away, swells quickly as we walk toward the Potomac River through the woody peninsula. From a sturdy overlook, the geese, swans and ducks come into view. Their quacking, honking and flapping are all we can hear.
The fields and forests of Gifford Pinchot State Park in southcentral Pennsylvania are still in winter dormancy, but not for long. You will actually hear the change.
When the days are cold and short but the spring thaw draws near, the shrill call of spring peepers will announce that winter is over. The familiar sound, which signals spring for humans, is the peepers’ call for survival.
Have you ever wanted to kayak on the Chesapeake Bay, but didn’t know how or where to start? Here’s your chance. On March 10, the Chesapeake Paddlers Association is offering a one-day introduction to sea kayaking at a retreat center on the West River south of Annapolis.
To the uninitiated, that term “sea kayaking” may sound daunting, evoking images of plowing through ocean swells, far from land. Nothing so daring, at least to start, said Rick Leader, the course’s organizer. Rather, this course is designed for beginners and occasional recreational paddlers who are interested in “taking a step up.”
On the outskirts of the sprawling suburbs to the nation’s capital, there’s a time machine of sorts that can transport you back a century or two. It’s a quaint village called Waterford.
You’ll find it preserved like a dragonfly in amber amid the cookie-cutter housing developments that are gradually consuming the rural remnants of Loudoun County, VA, one of the nation’s fastest-growing communities.
From a distance, Cove Mountain looks like it floats on the Susquehanna River. Closer up, it’s a typical Pennsylvania red oak-dominated forest, with scattered lichen and moss-covered boulders, clear mountain streams and clearings well-stocked with wildflowers.
This unspoiled wilderness is also one of the largest plots of undeveloped mountain land just outside of Harrisburg and, as such, has been eyed by developers for years.
Construction of a 500-home development, a bedroom community to Harrisburg, has begun on one side of Cove Mountain; the other side is now a preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy.
Fall migration is an excellent time to spot a wide variety of birds, and identifying a few birding hotspots can help fledgling birders — as well as experienced ones — know where to go. During fall and well into winter, bird watching groups in the Chesapeake region often flock to Cumberland Marsh Natural Area, about 35 minutes east of Richmond by car.
The 1,100-acre preserve, one of 45 in Virginia, overlooks some of the most pristine tidal fresh wetlands along the Pamunkey River and often yields unexpected sightings.
Dr. William Palmer married his second wife, Cleorah Duvall, shortly after moving to Woodlawn Manor in Sandy Spring, MD, in the mid-1820s. The marriage came with a dowry gift that would change his plantation’s future: its first slave.
Woodlawn Manor, now a Montgomery County park, would eventually depend on the labor of more than a dozen enslaved people.
The choice to become a slave owner brought personal consequences, too. Palmer was a Quaker, and Quakers were opposed to slavery.
The broad marshes along the wooded banks of the Chickahominy River in Virginia still evoke the landscape that English explorer Capt. John Smith first saw when he visited this area in 1607.
And it is the same mix of forest, river and marsh that made my paddle down Morris Creek — a tributary of the Chickahominy — so compelling on an early spring morning.
I launched my kayak with Jack Snell, a member of the River Rat volunteers who keep watch on area waterways for the James River Association. A thin mist rose from the creek as we slipped silently onto the dark water just after sunrise.
In the 1980s and 1990s, my family and I lived at the very edge of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a mere five miles from the northern reaches of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In Walkersville, MD, just outside Frederick, we were close enough to a portion of the Blue Ridge — Catoctin Mountain — that we could see it in gaps between the neighbors’ houses across the street. And from the roof of our house, where the occasional whiffle ball or Frisbee would get stuck, I’d get an even better view of that long forested wall to the west, stretching north toward Pennsylvania.
Fifty miles south of Washington, DC, where the Potomac River curves abruptly to the east at Marlborough Point, the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve rises high between the tidal freshwater marshes along Accokeek and Potomac creeks to...
The Geddes-Piper House of Chestertown, MD, is a tall narrow townhouse of weathered brick and crisp white trim with a hefty wooden door. The house has stood on this spot since 1783, its condition waxing and waning as much of Chestertown grew...
Baltimore is a city of contradictions.
Its neighborhoods are dense, filled with two-and three-story rowhouses that are neat and tidy in some neighborhoods, blighted and dilapidated in others. Gorgeous architecture peeks out from narrow...
Some visitors to Isle of Wight County, VA, come for a taste of the renowned Smithfield ham produced in the county since the 1760s and defined by Virginia statute since 1926. Others visit the Isle of Wight Museum to snatch a look at the...
Belle Isle State Park is not the most visited park in Virginia. It’s not the largest. It doesn’t have the longest history. And it is certainly not the closest to the state’s metro areas.
All the more reason to plan a...
Fannie Mae Salter was not a woman to take no for an answer. When her husband C.W. "Harry" Salter died in 1925, she thought she would stay on as keeper of the Turkey Point Lighthouse in the Upper Bay.
But the Lighthouse Service had other...
From the heights of Fort Washington Park, the shores of the Potomac River frame the skyline of the nation's capital with the Washington Monument jutting toward the sky.
Today, the city is a seat of national and international power,...
Dennis Hartnett welcomes human visitors to the Patuxent Research Refuge. But Hartnett, the education director of this 12,841-acre preserve between Baltimore and Washington, wants to make it clear that wildlife comes first.
There are no...
In a small studio at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA, education specialist Wisteria Perry asked a group of fifth graders what it means to go exploring.
A girl in Minnesota, whose class is connected to the museum via...
This summer, two boys made the find of their young lives on a Chesapeake Bay beach.
The boys were combing the shoreline for fossils at Calvert Cliffs State Park in southern Maryland, where waves tumbled the fractured jumble of ancient...