Cover photo: The Thousand Steps trail, built with rocks on Jacks Mountain in Huntingdon County, PA, rises above morning mist and fall colors. (Ad Crable)
A long a dusty road in Tioga State Forest near the northern edge of Pennsylvania, a sign marks the remains of Camp Leetonia. A picture shows a scene from nearly a century ago: a cleared field lined with military-style barracks and other buildings.
Looking for someplace quiet to paddle along verdant shores? To follow butterflies flitting across fields of wildflowers and hear birds calling as you stroll through a forest? To picnic by the water or cast a fishing line?
You can now walk or bike across one of the longest and highest railroad trestles in the nation, travelling high above the Susquehanna River for one of the river’s most breathtaking views.
David Conard of Asheville, NC, stood next to his bike in a grassy area carved from the base of a steep mountainside along gently flowing Pine Creek. His stop was near the midway point of the breathtaking Grand Canyon — in Pennsylvania, not Arizona.
In this era of exploding attendance at state and national parks, the concept of escaping to a place off the beaten path possesses fresh appeal.
Out of a crucible that included pioneering Scot-Irish farmers and the industrialist du Pont family’s fox hunting and equestrian passions has emerged one of Maryland’s most varied recreational opportunities.
Nancy Ware Sapp erupted in glee as she spotted a juvenile green heron, its feathers iridescent in the morning light, perched in a tree beside a wetland, regarding us inquisitively only 50 feet away.
For years, the backyard garden at George Mason IV’s historic home near the banks of the Potomac River featured, like many Colonial era residences, rows of ancient-looking boxwoods. Then the operators of Gunston Hall started doing some digging.
When I’m walking to the mailbox, letting the dogs outside or otherwise outdoors with time on my hands, I bring up an app on my mobile phone and tap the “record” button. A black-and-white spectrogram materializes at the top half of my screen.
Rockfish Gap, at 1,900-foot above sea level, is one of the lowest ridge elevations along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Today, Interstate 64 and VA Route 250 cross the gap, which offers scenic views of the Piedmont hills and Charlottesville to the east and the Shenandoah Valley to the west.
Cover photo: Visitors gather during a cold March sunrise in 2021 to watch thousands of snow geese make a raucous takeoff at Pennsylvania’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. (Dave Harp)
Cover photo: Astrophotographer Caelan Chapman got this composite image of the Running Man and Orion nebulae after several nights of night shooting at Pennsylvania’s Cherry Springs State Park. (Caelan Chapman)
Tucked just inside the beltway in Chevy Chase, MD, is a woodland sanctuary worthy of an afternoon stroll — and accessible to all. People using wheelchairs, walkers or canes will find a welcome sight: an 8-foot-wide path, smooth with layers of water-permeable materials, granting access to mea…
Summer was fading into autumn as I glided into a labyrinth of wooded and grassy islands and exposed necks of mud — the Conejohela Flats in the lower Susquehanna River.
I know when I’m not wanted. And standing there, at the end of a crater-pocked boat launch, watching water — far deeper and faster than I had expected — surge by, I felt distinctly unwelcome.
This is where it all ends.
On a single day each fall, Pennsylvania’s second-largest roadless area becomes bumper to bumper with vehicles.
The ospreys were the first to welcome us to the Nanticoke River.
One of the quirkiest chapters in Pennsylvania history lies inside a horseshoe bend in the Susquehanna River, plowed under by nicely spaced farm fields.
The First United States Congress had been in session for six months when it passed a resolution to establish a permanent capital. It was 1789, and members of the legislative body, gathered in New York City, began mulling over “a convenient place” that could serve not just as a seat of govern…
In a treeless plain on the edge of Gettysburg in southcentral Pennsylvania lies a jumble of dark and rounded boulders.
If Walt Disney had designed hiking trails, they might look something like the family-friendly footpaths along the Moormans River in central Virginia.
Soon after arriving at Glenstone — a world-class, contemporary art museum in Montgomery County, MD — the visitor faces a crossroads. “I call it the aha moment,” said Paul Tukey, who, as the museum’s director of stewardship, has put plenty of thought into how visitors experience the property.…
Like a stalking predator hearing movement in the bushes, Linda Starling froze, her senses perched on a hair trigger. At first, the only obvious sound along this sandy stretch of shoreline was the dull rumble of jets idling on the runway across the Chesapeake Bay at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
For 21 years, I have led an overnight backpacking excursion to a different wild spot in Pennsylvania on a cold, preferably snowy, winter weekend.
It’s a chilly 27 degrees and still dark, but already a dozen or more photographers are setting up tripods and long lenses at the base of Maryland’s Conowingo Dam. They hope to capture dream images of bald eagles — closeup, diving for fish and often robbing each other in midair.
An exhibit at a waterfront art center in Northern Virginia is bringing new meaning to the term “crowdsourced.” The only action residents of Alexandria, VA, had to take to contribute to the artwork was to flush their toilets.
The year 2020 marks a century since women were granted the right to vote under the 19th Amendment, but the roots of female-fueled conservation run much deeper than that date.
The road at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore curves through the marshes like a dark ribbon. Beyond painted turtles making their way from one wet shoulder to another, there’s little traffic in this semi-submerged landscape. Overtaken by tides twice a day, and mo…
From the top of the mountain, starting out on Falls Trail in Ricketts Glen State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania, an unnamed stream sidles up to the path, just a wisp of water bathed in filtered sunlight. The sounds of late-summer insects and bird calls drown out even the faint tinkling of…
Photographer Dave Harp has spent decades living life on the edge — of the Chesapeake Bay. Now, in the first exhibition to provide a retrospective look at his work, Harp’s photographs trace the beauty of Chesapeake shorelines over a span of 40 years. They also evoke an aching sense of change …
One of the largest remnants of the world’s rarest ecosystem lies in relative obscurity, just 12 miles north of Baltimore.
As American chestnut trees were dying, the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway sprang to life. It was 1914, and blight was decimating chestnut trees in hardwood forests from Maine to Florida. Nevertheless, a pair of undeterred entrepreneurs established a shortline railway to transport chestnut timbe…
The Appomattox River in Virginia has long been a river I’ve wanted to explore. Its name conjured up associations with the Civil War, but otherwise I knew little about it. Lucky for me, a water trail helped me to tackle the adventure.
For an unparalleled view of the Chesapeake Bay, drive to the end of Maryland Route 272, leave your car in the gravel lot and hike down an old farm lane that gradually becomes engulfed in trees. Then step out into a final clearing containing an antique lighthouse and get as close to the edge …
Years ago, Roberta Strickler, a kayaker from Lancaster, PA, stood on the Norman Wood Bridge across the Susquehanna River, transfixed by an odd assortment of rounded rock islands just downriver.
Midmorning, early November, and our walk-and-coffee ritual along Daugherty Creek Canal at Janes Island State Park in Maryland comes to an abrupt halt as a white-tailed deer leaps through the marsh across the canal. Bounding over shimmering saltmeadow hay and saltmarsh cordgrass, she’s headed…
Only a little more than a half-mile remains of the 80-mile Union Canal, the nation’s first public works project, but a guided float on its placid waters in a replica canal boat drips with early American history when its founders dreamed big.
It happens every April and early May across the Chesapeake Bay region. Warm, sunny weather beckons to thousands of stir-crazy people who don shorts and T-shirts and drag their canoes and kayaks to the water.
The ability to identify plants and trees was once the sole province of experts such as naturalists, botanists and master gardeners. But with new technology just a download away, anyone can do it.
At Bull Run Regional Park in Northern Virginia, the staff starts fielding questions in February. “When will the bluebells peak?” “What if I come next Thursday morning?”
Ephraim Seidman, a cyclist from Richmond, can be found on the Virginia Capital Trail several times a week. He’s not there just for fun and exercise. Seidman is one of more than 80 “trail ambassadors” coordinated by the Capital Trail Foundation.
In late summer, a sandy bank of the James River near downtown Richmond known as Texas Beach can get raucous with crowds eager to stick their toes in the water. But on a midwinter afternoon, the river views feel both remote and peaceful.
One of Maryland’s top birding sites is not as open to the public as it used to be — but no one told the birds.
Shiloh, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettsyburg, the Wilderness: After more than 150 years, the names of certain Civil War battles continue to vibrate with meaning and consequence in the public’s imagination.
Cemeteries are places of remembrance. Arlington National Cemetery is perhaps the most famous, the final resting place of more than 400,000 veterans of American conflicts and their spouses.
Where can you find the largest pawpaw patch north of Maryland, trace an old railroad bed along the Susquehanna River, hear the swoosh of wind turbines and meander through vast flowering meadows?
A street lined with homes built in the early 1900s slopes downhill to the fraying edge of town. A two-lane bridge carries traffic across a ribbon of flat water. There’s a boat ramp on the opposite side with one of those newfangled kayak launches with rollers.
Early morning light beckoned me upstream into the green, marshy world of Cat Point Creek, a tributary of Virginia’s Rappahannock River.