Once those few warm days start creeping in and all you can think about is getting out of the house, make the most of them by heading to Frederick County, Md., for limitless outdoor activities. Families looking to have little ones get out and stretch their legs and those wanting to learn more about the great outdoors can find options to fill the day.
Catoctin Creek Nature Center
The Catoctin Creek Nature Center focuses on one thing: to educate the public about local environments and ecosystems — even the construction and building materials of the building itself was focused on this mission. If you’re looking for a family outing, the Catoctin Creek Nature Center and surrounding trails are the perfect option. The .2 mile Sensory Trail is open every second Saturday starting in May and includes twelve interactive stations for inquisitive young minds. Other hands-on and live-animal displays ensure the whole family will come away with a little more knowledge of the great outdoors.
Don’t forget to check out the other trails around the center, enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the park’s pavilions and let kids explore the playground while you’re there!
Fountain Rock Nature Center
Fountain Rock Park houses a 1.5-acre limestone quarry that provided limestone for the Fountain Rock kilns (don’t forget to take the self-guided tour of six of eight original kilns) and stone crusher for almost 80 years. Now, it’s filled with water and a boardwalk was constructed so nature lovers could get even closer to nature. Be on the lookout for turtles, fish, herons and other aquatic birds while on your walk.
Birds aren’t the only winged creature you can find during your time at Fountain Rock Park. Fountain Rock Butterfly Garden, a monarch butterfly waystation, provides a place for monarch butterflies to reproduce in the spring and to recharge during migration in the fall.
Cunningham Falls State Park
Hiking, biking and camping are just a few of the things that await at Cunningham Falls State Park. Nestled into the Catoctin Mountains, nine trails varying in terrain, distance and difficulty run through the park. Falls Trail is the quickest and easiest way to get to Cunningham Falls, Maryland’s highest cascading waterfall. Experienced hikers won’t want to miss the scenic views of Cat Rock Trail.
A hidden gem of Frederick County, The Scales and Tales Program, brings to the park’s aviary live birds of prey and reptiles that can’t return to the wild. “Using stories or ‘tales’ of how these animals came to be in the care of Cunningham Falls State Park, naturalists talk about important environmental issues” and visitors get an up close and personal look at these incredible animals.
If you’re making the trip after Memorial Day, don’t forget your swimsuit! Swimming is available in multiple areas of Hunting Creek Lake but get there early — once the park reaches maximum capacity, visitors will be turned away.