Now is the time to visit our natural areas. Part Two

If you are reading this, there is a very good chance that you like to get out and hike at your favorite park or refuge. As part of a long term photography project, I have explored and enjoyed many of the protected places in the Potomac River’s watershed. To use a variation of an often used slogan, “A bad day in the woods is better than a good day at the office.” A few of the places that I especially enjoy in the spring that are not that well known include:

The wetlands at Merrimac Farm WMA. We are all in awe of the mass of blooms produced by the Virginia Bluebells at Merrimac. It has to be at the top of everybody’s list of places to visit in the middle of April. Near the bluebell colony there is another wonderful area to explore. Known simply as the wetlands, this vernal pool becomes magical in spring with all of the new leaves reflected in the shallow water – it’s almost surreal! In summer the pool all but disappears, but is surrounded by masses of lizard tail, also worth the trip. (There is no path to the wetlands, so ask for directions for your first trip.  GPS coordinates: N 38°  37 . 273′   W 077° 32 . 558 )

Neabsco Creek at Rippon Landing Park. If you would like to see an often spectacular sunrise, follow the path along the Service Authority right -of-way on the backside of this small county park to Neabsco Creek. The spatterdock and arrow arum both flower in early spring and are surrounded by newly emerging cattails and rushes. Unfortunately, you will probably see a scattering of trash and junk, but the view across the marsh towards the Potomac River is unlike any that you may see at a public area.

Quantico Cascades at Prince William Forest Park. I have been visiting Prince William Forest Park since I was a child, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I visited the Quantico Cascades . Located on Quantico Creek where it passes over the fall line, this is one of the few places in eastern Price William with waterfalls . With a mixture of hardwood trees and large boulders combined with the sound of falling water, this is a great spot for forgetting your cares and the urban grind. The cascades can be reached by the Quantico Falls Trail or the North Valley Trail.

Those are just three of my favorites out of scores of places that I visit and photograph in our region. What are some of yours? Please use the comment section to share them with us.

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