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The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Meadowside Nature Center – Exhibits & Trails

Meadowside – Trails and Maps

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.

Trail Map for Meadowside Nature Center

Lake Frank & Meadowside General Trail Map (pdf)

Lake Frank & Meadowside Topographic Trail Map (pdf)

To explore all 250 miles of trails across Montgomery Parks, visit the trails website.

Points of Interest

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Take a Virtual Hike by scrolling through the StoryMap below or view the StoryMap fullscreen.

Self-guided Trail

Meadowside Tree Trail

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.

Meadowside Tree Trail Map (pdf)

Outdoor Exhibits

Raptor Deck*

*Our Raptor Deck is closed due to the ongoing construction inside the nature center.

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 come visit our wonderful raptors once the nature center reopens. Learn more about our raptors!

Nature Play Space

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 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 jumping across stumps, explore the flower fort, 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.

Habitat Garden

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.

Chronolog – Environmental Time Lapse Photographs Created by You.

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 how to submit your picture, visit the Chronolog website.

Indoor Exhibits*

*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. Visit our renovations webpage to learn more about the process.

Nature Nook

This child-friendly environment containing books, games, puzzles, puppets, and more that will delight any budding naturalist. Come check out our live animal ambassadors that are on display as well.