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Great Green Getaways!

Great Spring Wildflower Viewing | Great Waters (Canoeing or Kayaking) | Great Bird Watching Spot | Great Butterfly Watching Spot | Great Fishing | Great Urban Surprise | Great Views | Great Mountain Biking Area | Great Strenuous Hike | Great Wildlife Viewing | Great History Hike | Great Parks to Get Lost In | Great Accessible Hikes| Montgomery County Nature Centers

Choose from the list above or click on the numbers to find the Great Green Getaways on the map below.

Green Getaways  Map

Check our main Parks Calendar and www.ParkPass.org for upcoming events, programs and volunteer opportunities. Find out more from our  new Wild Montgomery Blog that focuses on natural resources in our parks and is hosted by Montgomery Magazine. #1 C&O Canal National Historical Park #2 Pennyfield Lock #3 Blue Mash Natural Surface Trail #5 Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park #6 Blockhouse Point Conservation Park #7 Billy Goat Trail, C&O Canal National Park #8 Shcaeffer Farm, Seneca Creek State Park #9 McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area #10 Underground Railroad Experience Trail, Woodlawn Mansion #11 Little Bennett Regional Park #12 Rachel Carson Conservation Park #13 Violet's Lock, Great Falls, MD #6 Blockhouse Point Conservation Park #14  HeartSmart Trails (South Germantown Rec. Park) #4 Black Hill Regional Park #14 HeartSmart Trails (MLK jr  Rec.Park) HeartSmart Trail - Brookside Gardens #16 Meadowside Nature Center #17 Locust Grove Nature Center #18 Black Hill Visitor Center

Great Spring Wildflower Viewing

C&O Canal National Historical Park (near Widewater) (1): While you’re sure to find a great show of spring ephemerals anywhere along the canal in April or May, the “Widewater” section comes highly recommended. Park in the lot across from the Old Angler’s Inn on MacArthur Blvd. and walk along the canal towards Great Falls, MD. - map

Great Waters (Canoeing or Kayaking):

Potomac River (2): You can find it all along the river—from flat water to Class IV. For a beginning to intermediate run, park at Pennyfield Lock and paddle up the canal to the Blockhouse Point rocky cliffs, portage your boat over the towpath and go back via the Potomac River. Paddlers should always be aware of water levels in the river and know your limitations. Boating info - map

Great Bird Watching Spot

Blue Mash Nature Trail (3): A new hotspot! During spring and fall migrations head out to the former site of the Laytonsville landfill and park in lot on Mt. Zion Rd. Hike this mostly open diverse habitat to observe some special species! - get a map

Great Butterfly Watching Spot

Black Hill Regional Park (4): Visit the butterfly gardens around the visitor center and open habitats throughout the park to find a wide variety species. - get a map
If you’re interested in rarities, take a short side trip to Hoyles Mill Conservation Park to look for the endangered Giant Swallowtail. Park in lot on White Ground Rd. about 0.5mi west of the MARC station in Boyds. - get a map

Great Fishing

Little Seneca Lake (Black Hill Regional Park) (4): Rent a kayak, canoe, or rowboat by the hour or for the day to enjoy this large reservoir and the great wildlife who reside there. You can also bring your own boat (permit required and available at visitor center). Be sure to check out the programming at the Black Hills Nature Center, which includes nature-themed Pontoon Boat rides. Fun for the whole family! See posted fishing regulations. - get a map

Great Urban Surprise

Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park (5): Park at the lot next to the dam on Route 29 and take the trail North or South—either way you’ll feel tucked away in wilderness as you wind along the creek edge! - get a map

Great Views

Blockhouse Point Conservation Park (6): a hidden gem, the hike to two fine rock outcrops that overlook the Potomac River also goes through a special natural community unlike others in the region. Parking found in designated lot on River Rd. - get a map
Great Falls, C&O Canal National Historical Park (7): the disability-access boardwalk out to the falls is sprinkled with treats. Go throughout the seasons for a changing perspective on this beautiful sight. - map

Great Mountain Biking Area

Schaeffer Farm, Seneca Creek State Park (8): Over 11 miles of multi-use trails forming three loops, open to hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Most of the system was designed, built and is maintained by bikers. Located on Schaeffer Road about two miles from intersection with Clopper Road in Germantown. - map

Great Strenuous Hike

The Billy Goat Trail, C&O Canal National Historical Park (7): This invigorating hike is a favorite in the metropolitan area for it’s spectacular views, fun rock scrambling, and secret spots of riverside solitude. The trail follows the rock cliffs above the Potomac River, drops down to sandy shores, and traverses rare “terrace gravel bedrock forest.” Find flowers and birds in the spring, spot lizards in the summer, and all-year round watch the kayakers below chase Level IV rapids! Access the trail from Great Falls National Park, off of Falls Road. - map

Great Wildlife Viewing

McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area (9): With over 200 species documented, this is a migratory bird hotspot, and also a good place to watch beavers, white-tailed deer, squirrels, wild turkeys and woodcocks. Parking is off of River Road, 2.5 miles west of the intersection with Seneca Road. - map

Great History Hike

Underground Railroad Experience Trail (10): Located in the Sandy Spring, MD, this trail is part of the Rachel Carson Greenway. Free guided hikes are offered April to November on Saturday mornings. Or, take a self-guided hike highlighting local heritage and involvement in the Underground Railroad. For information visit UndergroundRRexperience.org call 301-650-4373 - get a map

Great Parks to Get Lost In

Little Bennett Regional Park (11): 3700 acres of green goodness, Little Bennett’s a place to let yourself disappear into nature for a little. Camp at the county’s only campground and, go for day hikes, picnic, and more! - get a map
Rachel Carson Conservation Park (12): A park that could have won most of these categories, Rachel Carson is a real treasure in this county. Far from major roads, this quiet park provides refuge and, after it’s namesake, A Sense of Wonder! If on a short visit only, wander the River Loop Trail. - get a map

Great Accessible Hikes

C&O Canal National Historical Park (7, 13): The entire canal towpath is a mostly level, gravel path. The best disability access points are parking lots that are level with the towpath itself, such as Great Falls (7)or Violette’s Lock (13). - map
Heart Smart Trails (14): Three locations. Check out these wheelchair accessible, paved trails in Brookside Gardens, and Martin Luther King and South Germantown Recreational Parks for a gentle natural experience. - get a map

Montgomery County Nature Centers

The four nature centers of Montgomery County Parks offer a variety of interesting, educational and fun programs for individuals (adults and children) and families all year round.

  • Brookside Nature Center (15)
  • Meadowside Nature Center (16)
  • Locust Grove Nature Center (17)
  • Black Hill Visitor Center (18)

Visit www.MontgomeryTrails.org for complete maps and descriptions of all M-NCPPC trails.

Download a printable version of the Green Getaways map (pdf)

Parklands in Montgomery County are administered by:
Montgomery Parks (M-NCPPC),
MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
National Park Service (NPS), and
MC Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT).

back to top - Last update: July 23, 2013