Our indoor exhibits can be enjoyed Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Self-guided groups are welcome to visit the exhibits September through mid-June FREE; there is a $1 per child fee for self-guided groups of 10 or more from mid-June through August. Reservations are required for all organized groups.
*Meadowside Nature Center is undergoing renovations to incorporate new interactive and immersive exhibits throughout the entire building. During this time, the nature center will remain closed to the public until Fall 2021. Visit our renovations webpage to learn more about the process.
This exhibit offers a unique opportunity to explore the story of Montgomery County’s natural heritage through a multitude of sensory experiences. Listen to songbirds sing overhead, crawl through a cave, and feel the fur of woodland animals. How many taxidermy animals can you find? (This exhibit closed April 4, 2020. Learn more)
Open your imagination to life as an Eastern Woodland Indian or a pioneer child during the 1800s. As an Eastern Woodland Indian child, you can explore life in a long house, hop in a dugout canoe and go fishing, or grind corn for making meals. As a pioneer child, you can play with old time toys, dress up in authentic clothing, and cook a traditional pioneer dinner. (This exhibit closed fall of 2020. Learn more)
This child-friendly environment contains books, games, puzzles, and puppets that will delight any budding naturalist. Spot the box turtle napping under his favorite log. Or, look out the windows to enjoy watching our feathered friends as they grab a snack at the feeders.
Meadowside Nature Center is home to injured, un-releasable birds of prey. The birds are located in an enclosure behind the nature center. Our Raptor Deck is newly renovated to increase accessibility so please come visit our wonderful raptors once the nature center reopens.
Learn more about our raptors!
The Nature Play Space is designed to allow children to play in a world without limitations to the imagination, to explore nature safely, and to enjoy being outside for unstructured play. Loose parts – leaves, sticks, sand, rocks, and dirt – are the variables that empower creativity.
There’s a lot you can do at the Nature Play Space. Try crawling through a hollow log or jumping across stumps. Explore the vine fort, play in the eagle’s nest, and even create “nature” music. Let your children freely explore this special space designed just for them while you relax and take in the sights and sounds from a tree-trunk bench.
*Our Nature Play Space is now closed due to the ongoing construction inside the nature center that can potentially impact this area.
Look out for exciting upcoming renovations to this space as well. Stay tuned! Visit our renovations webpage for current updates to both the Nature Play Space and Nature Center.
The gardens surrounding the nature center were designed to attract birds, provide a few things they eat (berries, insects), and offer areas for shelter and nests. Plants have been chosen for their importance to wildlife and are native to the mid-Atlantic region. Enjoy this special space year round and see examples of what you can create in your own yard during each season.
Located about a half mile from the nature center, this site includes two log cabins, a smoke house, a corn crib, gardens, and an orchard. Explore elements of farm life in Montgomery County long ago.
Located about a half mile upstream, this grist mill, also called “Milton’s Mill”, was built in 1820 and burned to its foundation in 1935. It was the last mill on Rock Creek to close. A large dam provided the water power. Three millstones ground corn for animal feed; wheat, barley, and oats for coarsely ground grain; and buckwheat and wheat for fine flour. Only the ruins from the grist mill remain.
This covered bridge was built by students from Rockville High School and the Montgomery County Student Trades Foundation in memory of teacher and environmentalist, Joan Valieant. The bridge is located about one-third mile from the nature center.
Lake Frank is a 54-acre reservoir named after Bernard Frank, a wilderness activist, environmentalist, and a co-founder of The Wilderness Society. The lake is a great place for viewing migratory birds, enjoying wildflowers, or fishing along the shoreline.
NOTE: Swimming, boating, and ice skating are prohibited.
The nature center has more than eight miles of trail that explore habitats including meadows, woods, ponds, streams, a lake, and areas of historical interest. Below are some of the points of interest that you can find on the Meadowside Nature Center topographic map (pdf). Remember to abide by the park trail regulations when entering Montgomery Parks. For more park trail maps visit our trails website.
Rocky Ridge (0.30 mile) – This is a flat trail through the Oak-hickory upland woods. These woods are representative of the most common woodland habitat in Montgomery County.
Study Pond (0.50 mile) – The Study Pond was once a tributary of the North Branch of Rock Creek that has since been dammed creating this wetland habitat. The trail meanders through the meadows maintained by mowing and gives ample opportunity for hikers to spot wildlife. Approach the pond quietly and you might see and hear frogs. #3 on map.
Pioneer Homestead (0.75 mile) – This historic site includes two log cabins, a smoke house, a corn crib, gardens, and an orchard. The site is intended to reflect a small family farm after the Civil War. #3 on map.
Valieant Bridge (0.75 mile) – This covered bridge was built by students from Rockville High School and Montgomery County Student Trades Foundation in memory of teacher and environmentalist, Joan Valieant. #7 on map.
Muncaster Mill Site (0.75 mile) – Also called “Miltons Mill”, this grist mill was built in 1820, and burned to its foundation in 1935. It was the last mill on Rock Creek to close. A large dam about 0.5 miles upstream provided the water power. Three millstones once ground corn for animal feed; wheat, barley and oats for coarsely ground grain; and buckwheat and wheat for fine flour. Today, only the ruins from the grist mill remain. #5 on map.
Lake Frank (1 mile) – Lake Frank, is a 54-acre reservoir named after Bernard Frank, a wilderness activist, environmentalist, and a co-founder of The Wilderness Society. The lake is a great place for viewing migratory birds, enjoying wildflowers, or fishing along the shoreline. NOTE: Swimming, boating, and ice skating are prohibited.
Look for these items along our trails but please do not collect. Remember to take memories and photos and leave only footprints.
Scavenger Hunt worksheet (pdf)
This 0.50 mile trail winds its way along portions of the Rocky Ridge, Connector, Muncaster Mill, and Backbone Trails through second-growth eastern deciduous forest. The forest once covered much of the eastern part of the country. Today only fragments of the forest remain. On this trail, you will learn about 11 of the park’s common trees.
Chronolog is an environmental monitoring project that uses images submitted by the public. Chronolog stations are set up at four different locations along Meadowside Trails. You are welcome to participate in this citizen science program by submitting your own pictures at the different stations.
To learn more about this project or steps on how to submit your own picture, visit the Chronolog website.