Annual Winter Solstice Field Trip and Hooley

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Date(s) - Sunday, December 17, 2017
10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Field trip co-sponsored by the Maryland Native Plant Society, Mattawoman Watershed Society, Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, and the Botanical Society of Washington.

Field trip is free and open to non-members.  Registration is not required.

Leaders: Rod Simmons, Jim Long, Alan Ford, and Robin Firth

Celebrate the beginning of the winter season at Mattawoman Wildlands at Chapman Forest (the vast section of Chapman Forest South abutting Mattawoman Wildlands) with its spectacular scenery and remarkable diversity of native plants, wildlife, and natural communities!  It has been 8 ½ years since we last visited this forest, for a jointly sponsored Summer Solstice Field Trip.

The south tributary of Chapman Forest South is a pristine, spring-fed stream that begins as a series of acidic seeps and Magnolia Bogs and flows through steep, forested ravines to Mattawoman Creek.  We will walk along the floodplain of this stream from near its convergence with Mattawoman Creek and proceed upstream a ways through gradual elevation changes to upland Oak-Heath Forest at the summit of the gravelly ridge.

Bring: Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch or snacks and water.  Most of the walk traverses rolling, fairly open forest and along some trails, though some steep grades and damp areas will occasionally be encountered.

Expanded directions to the Winter Solstice Field Trip:

 Directions: Take Indian Head Highway (Rt. 210) south from Capital Beltway (495).  Proceed south on Rt. 210 for app. 15 miles.  Continue on Rt. 210 to the Rt. 227 intersection at Bryans Road (McDonald’s, Burger King, and shopping center on right and large CVS and builders supply will be on left) – don’t take Prince George’s County versions of Rt. 227 many miles before this intersection!  (Livingston Road crisscrosses Rt. 210 several times in Prince George’s County, so we usually don’t mention it by name.)

 At the Bryans Road intersection, turn left at Rt. 227 and proceed south for approximately 3-4 miles.  A confusion here is that Routes 227 and 224 overlap for a portion of the route.  Be careful not to mistakenly turn left off of Livingston Road/Rt. 227/Rt. 224 to stay on Rt. 227, which departs from the desired route about 1.3 miles from the traffic light in Bryans Road, but keep to the right at the half-fork and continue downhill on Rt. 224.  The parking area is actually on Rt. 224.

 Slow down as the road begins to descend down the big hill to Mattawoman Creek (Lamont’s will be on the left about here) and be prepared to turn right just after the stream crossing at Buteaux Crossing and before the abandoned railroad tracks.  Parking area will be on the right at the railroad tracks.  We’ll meet in this main parking lot.

 Alternatively, one could stay on Rt. 210 past the Bryans Road intersection to make a left onto Rt. 225 (Hawthorne Road) at a traffic light.  Then turn left onto Rt. 224 at the bottom of the hill to the parking area.  Beware that this way exposes you to an oft-patrolled speed trap south of Bryans Road where the limit is 40 mph (before becoming 50 mph as you whiz through Chapman Forest).

 Here is a link to a Google map that should show the label for Rail Trail parking –

 For overflow parking, there is the also the area very near Mattawoman Creek opposite the parking lot above on the east side of Rt. 227, but it is small, often muddy, and dangerous to turn in and out of.  Parking along the road is not an option.

 Carpooling is encouraged.  For those interested in carpooling to the field trip – or has room to provide a ride – we will send out a list of names, general location, and contact info closer to the time so that folks wishing transportation to the field trip can arrange something.  A number of folks in the Alexandria-Arlington-D.C. area will likely be looking for a ride to the site.

 *In the event of heavy-steady snow, sleet, pouring rain, or icy, dangerous conditions of roads, the field trip will be cancelled. 

Maryland State Champion Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda) at Chapman Forest.

Maryland State Champion Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda) at Chapman Forest.

For more information on the natural communities of Chapman Forest, see Forest Communities and Geology of Washington and Vicinity, pp. 30-38, at the City of Alexandria Flora and Natural Communities webpage at


For more information on Mattawoman Wildlands at Chapman Forest and Mattawoman Creek, see the excellent webpage at Mattawoman Watershed Society.


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