Monday, November 22, 2010

Trail Discovery for Kids

November Highlighted Hike

Blockhouse Trail

Blockhouse Point Conservation Park

14750 River Road, Darnestown, MD

Hike Information

 The Blockhouse Trail is a 3 mile out and back hike with moderate elevation gain after the stream and at the overlook.

 The trailhead is at the second parking lot on the left, driving northwest on River Road. The lot is adjacent to the road and only has room for a few cars.

 The trail is very well marked with sign posts at each intersection and blue blazes along the trail. Follow the Blockhouse Trail to the left of the horse fields until the bridge. Cross over the stream and continue up the hill until the T-intersection. Continue left on the Blockhouse Trail to the overlook. Retrace back.

 An extension to the Blockhouse Trail – at the T-intersection, follow the Calithea Trail for .1 miles and turn left onto the Paw Paw Trail to a second overlook. Retrace back.

 The trails are jogging stroller passable. The obstacles are few large rocks and gullies.

 Link to the trail map.

Age Appropriateness

 This hike is manageable for preschoolers who will switch between walking and riding but best for children 5 years and older.

What is fun for kids?

 Late fall and winter are the best times of year to take this hike because of the amazing 180 degree views of the Potomac River. Trees without leaves provide this beautiful view.

 The overlook at the end of Blockhouse Trail provides a high view of the scenery and a large and safe area for free play and a picnic.

 The overlook at the end of the Paw Paw Trail provides a lower view of the Potomac. This overlook has a small outcropping of rocks to sit, take a break, have a picnic lunch, and watch the great blue herons feast in the river. This overlook is steep with drop offs.

 At the overlooks, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagle sightings!

 Engage in some Civil War play – sticks are always a child’s weapon of choice. Blockhouse Point Conservation Park was home to a Civil War Encampment in 1862 by Union soldiers. Old encampment dugouts still exist in the park.


 Steep drop offs at the overlooks.

 No bathrooms.

 Trash free park – pack out your garbage.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Family Hikes

The air is crisp, with an occasional scorcher to remind us of the hot summer, with beautiful blue skies and the leaves are changing into magnificent hues of gold and burgundy. Hiking Along hopes your family has been able to discover fall’s bounty for your senses thus far. If not, we hope you will consider joining Hiking Along with its partnering organizations on either of these two great fall hikes.

Saturday, October 23rd from 9:30 to 11:30 am, Hiking Along in partnership with a new organization, Conservation Montgomery, will lead a family hike on the Northwest Branch Trail (p.1) to learn about trees, their importance to people, animals, and the local watershed. Kids and parents will engage in hands-on activities along the trail, including a service project to collect native seeds for the Growing Native program. The hike is 1.5 miles out and back on a flat, wide trail that is jogging stroller friendly. The hike will begin at the Kemp Mill Rd. trailhead of the Northwest Branch Trail. A suggested $5 per person donation to Conservation Montgomery is greatly appreciated. To register for the hike, please send an e-mail with your family’s name, number of people, and contact e-mail to

Saturday, October 30th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Hiking Along in partnership with Neighbors of Northwest Branch will lead a family hike on the Rachel Carson Greenway Trail, south of Burnt Mills (p. 3). The group will meet in the parking lot adjacent to the Trader Joe’s Plaza and will hike two miles out and back to the 495 overpass. On the return, children will have the opportunity to rock scramble. While on the hike, families will learn about the ecosystem of a deciduous forest in the Washington area. They will understand and follow a food web in the forest and what happens when a species is threatened or endangered. Children will learn about and provide solutions to the human impact on a forest food web. This hike is great for children 5+ years of age but all are welcome. The trail is not jogging stroller passable; however, a few backpacks can be provided for young children. Join the hike, see the forest colors, and learn about its animals!

If your family or group can’t make one of these great hikes, then e-mail Jennifer to schedule any one of the nine hikes in the DC area. In addition, check out Hiking Along’s blog to read “Trail Discovery for Kids” – a review of some of the best hiking trails for kids and families in the DC area. Some highlighted trails are Tom’s Trail in Wheaton Park, a short, easy and adventurous hike for preschoolers or to view the fall colors in Shenandoah National Park, hike with your family on the White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run 2 mile circuit. For more up-to-the-minute trail and nature resources, “like” Hiking Along on Facebook.
Happy Fall Adventures to you and your family!