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Sunday, December 22, 2019
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Parking Lot Across from Old Anglers Inn


Please join us for this annual winter tradition to celebrate the beginning of the winter season, led by Rod Simmons and a host of others. Celebrate the beginning of the winter season at the Gold Mine Tract with its spectacular scenery and diversity of native plants, wildlife, and natural communities! This 550-acre forest is situated in the Potomac Gorge and is one of the largest interior forested tracts remaining in the Maryland Piedmont region.

Maryland State Co-Champion Black Oak (Quercus velutina) atop high, southwest-facing terrace at the Gold Mine Tract in Montgomery County, Maryland. Photo by R.H. Simmons.

This year we will visit the Gold Mine Tract at the C&O Canal National Historic Park. According to the Old Growth Forest Network:

This 528 acre tract is the largest Piedmont Forest in Maryland. Although it is not true old-growth, the towering hardwood trees and the gently rolling woodland floor will take your breath with their beauty. The dominant species are tuliptree and a mixture of oaks. Wildlife includes abundant deer, fox and woodpeckers. The forest gets its name from the traces of gold mining ruins that are still visible. This forest is adjacent to the Great Falls of the Potomac River. While most visitors to the busy area will be heading toward the river, you will head the opposite direction into the relaxing forest. Begin the blue blazed trail uphill behind the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center.

Gold Mine Loop Trail, C&O Canal National Historic Park - Photo by Frederick Robinson

Gold Mine Loop Trail, C&O Canal National Historic Park
Photo by Frederick Robinson, Copyright © Alltrails.com, used with permission.

This walk is co-sponsored by the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and the Botanical Society of Washington.

For Arlington Regional Master Naturalist (ARMN) members, this event will apply towards advanced training hours in botany, dendrology, forest ecology, and geology.

Registration: The Winter Solstice Walk is free and open to non-members. Registration is not required.

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

Directions: Take MacArthur Boulevard west from the Capital Beltway to the parking lots off MacArthur Boulevard directly across the street from Old Anglers Inn. (If traveling the Capital Beltway (495) north or south, take the Clara Barton Parkway exit heading west. The parkway dead-ends at MacArthur Boulevard just past Carderock and the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center.) Meet at the edge of the parking area across from the Old Anglers Inn. Restrooms are also available here. Carpooling is highly recommended as parking spaces can fill up quickly during nice weather weekends. Do not park in the Old Anglers Inn parking lot.

Coordinates: 38.9818873, -77.2262411

Carpooling: For those interested in carpooling to the field trip – or has room to provide a ride – please email Kathy Bilton at kathy@fred.net closer to the time and she will send out a list of names, general location, and contact info which she has received 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.

Leaders: Rod Simmons, Matt Barker, Ken Bawer, Carole Bergmann, Marney Bruce, Margaret Chatham, Annie Gilliland, Scott Graham, and Greg Zell.

For folks who aren’t able to stay the full time, there will be numerous points throughout the field trip to depart from and easily get back to the parking area.

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