Tag Archives: Family Hiking

Hike & Hang: Patuxent River State Park & Waredaca Brewing Company

 

Remember how I mentioned last week that I’m a bit behind on posting about some of the fun things we’ve done this summer?  Well, I’m crossing another off my list with one that we enjoyed way back on Father’s Day.  And just in time for Labor Day, because this would make for a great family outing over the holiday weekend.

It became our tradition to celebrate Levi every June with a crab feast worked into the plan.  We usually do something active, either a hike or bike ride, or Levi does a long ride on his own, then we all  go out for crabs after or pick them up at the Fish Market at The Wharf and have a feast at home.   It’s a fun, tasty, and seasonal way to celebrate the day, and one that he really likes.

However, this year we happened to have crab feasted not long before and weren’t really up for it again so soon.  So, when a friend asked if we wanted to join their family for a Father’s Day hike, we were into it.  But we still wanted to make it special for the dads with a post-hike meal and fun, so my friend suggested going to Waredaca Brewing Company in Laytonsville, MD.

I’d heard good things about it, but she had actually been there and gave it a big thumbs up.  With that part of the day planned, we just needed to find a hike.  We did a little research on trails nearby, and decided on Patuxent River State Park in Gaithersburg, MD, just a few minutes’ drive from Waredaca.  (KFDC Tip: Sometimes it’s better to plan a hike around the après-hike destination!)

* * * 

Patuxent River State Park
The park is fairly large, spanning nearly 7,000 acres in Montgomery and Howard counties.  There are generally three areas of the park — the North End, the Wildlands, and the South End.  We explored the south section, where there are marked trails; we read the other areas tend to have more social (unmarked) trails that are popular with hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and hunters during the season.

As mentioned, we chose our area based on post-hike plan, and it was a good call, both for its proximity to Waredaca and the hike itself.  We weren’t looking for anything hardcore that would take a long time; we just wanted to do something active outdoors before heading to the brewery.

There are only two trail options in the South End, one about a mile and a half, and the other two miles, and they conveniently connected for a nice walk in the woods.  While there wasn’t anything unique about the hike, it was very pleasant.  The trails were well maintained with some twists and turns and a few slight uphills, but nothing too strenuous. We could easily walk, talk, and keep track of our dogs who were along for the day.  The path winds through an area of tall trees and plants blanketing the grounds, and it was all that bright saturated green of early summer.  Blues skies and lovely mid 70s-degree temps rounded it all out perfectly.

* * * 

Waredaca Brewing Company
Where there used to be a camp for kids is now the beautiful Waredaca Farm that is the site of Waredaca Brewing Company.  Located in a serene pastoral setting along with equestrian facilities, it was a great place for the “special” part of our Father’s Day outing.  There is a beer truck near the entrance, where you check in (and get a brew or lemonade), and just beyond are picnic tables with umbrellas spread out around the grassy orchard.  There is more seating inside the Tap Room and right outside it on a patio, where there was also a bluegrass band playing when we were there.

My friend knew to make a reservation, as it gets crowded on nice days, especially one when many people are celebrating. You can walk in, though availability is limited, and it’s on a first-come, first served basis.  Waredaca is very family-friendly, welcoming kids and dogs, with some large in-ground tires to climb on and open space for running around and playing lawn games. They also occasionally have “Pet a Pony” days!

As for the house specialty, there is a wide selection of beer on the menu along with bar snacks like pretzels and charcuterie boxes.  A food truck is also on site, but it varies by day.  You can also bring your own food and just enjoy the brews.  Our crew did a mix of everything  — some of our own snacks, bites from the bar, burgers from Boxcar Burgers, and, of course, beers for the adults.

Cheers to a super fun Father’s Day (and finally getting this post done)!

* * * 

Patuxent River State Park – South End
Where: 11950 Clopper Road | Gaithersburg, MD
When: Daily, sunrise to sunset
Admission: Free

 

Waredaca Brewing Company
Where: 4017 Damascus Road | Laytonsville, Maryland
When: Thurs-Friday 4-8pm | Sat-Sun, 12-6pm
Admission: Free (but plan to spend on brews and food)

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Eats, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Weekend

Walk in the Woods at Woodend Nature Sanctuary

woodend_path

The second week of summer break was Sasha’s week. Owen had just left for his first sleep away camp adventure (a whole wonderful experience I’ll hopefully touch on more sometime), and I wanted to have a week of quality time with my girl before she started a session of Adventure Theatre’s acting camp (a whole other wonderful experience that I highly recommend).

woodend_stairs

It was a nice week of both planned and spontaneous activities, as well as some low key hanging out. We caught a performance of Jumanji, got pedicures, went on bike rides, hit the pool, lunched at Shake Shack, visited the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, popped into the Postal Museum… mostly things we’d done and enjoyed before.

woodend_birdhouse

But one new adventure we had was a trip to Woodend Nature Sanctuary in Chevy Chase. I’d been there for a wedding years ago, but had never visited with the kids. Which is kind of a shame, because it’s a great place to get in touch with nature and do some outdoor exploring close in to the city.

woodend_tallgrass

woodend_bridge

The 40-acre property is home to the Audubon Naturalist Society, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to conservation and education. The grounds are open to the public and free to roam daily.

woodend_boots

woodend_stumps

It’s perfect for hiking excursions with little ones, with easy trails that wind through the woods and through open meadow-y spaces. Wildlife sightings are plentiful — we saw deer, frogs, chip munks, small fish, and, of course, lots of birds. There is a look-out to climb for better viewing and a small pond where you’ll find some creatures, too. A few exhibits like a bird feeding area, bees nests, and a composting station are worth checking out. And when tired little legs need a break, there are plenty of benches and nice, peaceful seating areas around.

woodend_beesnests

woodend_compost

Stop in the gift shop to pick up a map before you begin your hike, or just park in the lot and wander — it’s not so big that you won’t find your way. And if you want to get guided tour, you can join a Family Nature Walk with a Master Naturalist the first Saturday of the month from 9-10am.

woodend_grove

Woodend Nature Sanctuary is located at 8940 Jones Mill Road in Chevy Chase, MD. The grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk, and admission is free.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under All ages, Animals, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Weekdays, Weekend