Strolling into Spring

Original April 12, 2011 Issue 14

By: Stacey Hollis

Staff Writer

In spring, get a breath of fresh

Spring is upon us! The floral scents on the breeze awaken the senses which come alive as we emerge from the depths of winter. The myriad of changes that befall the natural world can be appreciated in a variety of ways, even if only on the weekends, for now.

Brookside Gardens is fantastic for the turn of the seasons. Here you can walk through the richly landscaped terrain which features a variety of beautifully-themed gardens. From the Japanese Teahouse, you can overlook the pond and are almost guaranteed to spot a great blue heron or the koi that come to the water’s surface for anything resembling food. In the aquatic garden ponds you can view from a safe distance one of the giant snapping turtles.

For the metro buffs, take a train on a sunny day down to the National Mall in DC to toss a football or flip a frisbee. There is always an ultimate frisbee group that plays at 1pm on Saturdays and they welcome newcomers.

They play year round where 4th street crosses the mall. You could also head south a few blocks and stroll alongside the Tidal Basin to see the Yoshino Cherry Trees that were given as a gift of friendship from Japan in 1912.

Between Rockville and DC runs Rock Creek Park a forested corridor which harbors a great bike path for those who love to ride, but prefer to avoid car traffic. The northern trailhead can be accessed at Lake Needwood on Avery Rd in Rockville. Along this 18 mile paved pathway, there are a number of parks with picnic tables and bathrooms for the necessary pit stop.

Be sure to make this jaunt on the weekend so you can follow Beach Drive, a road that is closed to cars on weekends and holidays. You can follow Rock Creek all the way to Georgetown, where it flows into the Potomac or stop earlier along the trail to check out the National Zoo.

Another beautiful place worth seeing is Great Falls on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. This is about a 15 mile bike ride up the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath which runs between the river and the canal.

Historically, before the railroad was built, canal boats were towed by a team of mules following the tow path. This was an essential mode of transporting goods up and down the river.

Great Falls is one of the most frequented attractions along the 185 mile pathway, where the river turns into thundering rapids as it is pushed through a dramatic and rocky bottleneck. This breathtaking scene is definitely worth the ride.

So take these ideas and run with them! This season is ephemeral, so go and appreciate it while you still have the chance.