As we continue to update our website, certain content, event or membership pages may appear differently at times.
We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience!
Registration Fees Increase on August 1
For full descriptions and leader biographies download the Field Trip pdf.
For full descriptions and leader biographies download the Field Trip pdf.
Leader: Laura Beaty: “March” through Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park, Leesburg, VA, in search of fall blooming natives, giving thanks for battlefield preservation initiatives that have preserved natural communities from urban development.
Leader: Karyn Molines. This workshop will be held outside in the “Living Lab” unless it rains, when it will move indoors. Focus will be on how to observe plants, identify features useful or identification, and explain family characteristics that help in identification.
Leader: Margaret Chatham. They always told us to learn the botanic names of plants, and we always rolled our eyes at the notion of memorizing all that polysyllabic gobbledy-gook. But some of those names actually have meanings that are useful in identifying the plants.
Leader: Emily Southgate. “Butterfly Alley” at the Blue Ridge Center has been managed for several years for field species by regular bush-hogging. In addition, there is a marshy area beneath a power line that has been kept open for many years. The flora will be at its peak in September, with a large variety of both grasses and forbs.
Leader: Joe Metzger. Catoctin Mountain Park is part of a larger forested public lands complex that includes Cunningham Falls State Park, Frederick and Thurmont Watersheds, and Gambrill State Park. Many plants and animals, including several Maryland Threatened and Endangered species, thrive within this forest sanctuary.
Leader: Jim Vanderhorst. Cool Springs Preserve along Bullskin Run in Jefferson County, WV was recently acquired by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society. It consists of 12 acres fringing a rare marl marsh in an agricultural landscape.
Leader: Kevin Dodge. Cranesville Swamp is a large mountain peatland that lies along the Maryland - West Virginia border. Nearly 1800 acres of the swamp, a National Natural Landmark, have been protected by The Nature Conservancy, starting in 1960. The frost pocket topography, which leads to a shorter growing season, and wet soils of the swamp support a number of plants. Note: This site is a 2.5 hour drive west of the NCTC.
Leader: Vincent Vizachero. Would you like to design your own native plant garden, but need some assistance? This intensive working session will bring you cutting edge ecological concepts and garden design wisdom, based on concepts we’ve learned from native plant communities.
Leader: Carl Taylor. Massive northeast facing limestone bluffs tower above the Potomac River downstream of Snyder’s Landing along the C&O Canal towpath. On this generally easy hike, we should see about 15 native species of ferns living in rock crevices and soil pockets on and around the bluffs just above the C&O Canal.
Leaders: Rod Simmons and Beth Johnson. The Rich Cove and Slope Forest at Ferry Hill is considered to be one of Maryland’s finest examples of this natural community type. From the summit of the site, we will the traverse the exceptional, old-age Rich Cove and Slope Forest overlooking the C&O Canal and Potomac River.
Leader: Stephanie Mason. Hike on South Mountain Along the AT: Our field trip will begin at Gathland State Park (MD) on the ridge of South Mountain, about 30 minutes from the Conference Center. We will explore the oak-hickory forest here, using the Appalachian Trail as our footpath heading north. South Mountain’s plant life will be our focus, but we’ll also listen for bird activity and watch for other wildlife, including late-season butterflies, salamanders, and whatever else we might find.
Leader: Andrea Weeks. Identifying grasses and grass-like plants can be intimidating because it requires familiarity with specialized descriptive terminology and assessing very small morphological features. Demystify this process in a workshop to answer the basics, like “How do I know if this is a grass, a rush or a sedge?”
Leader: Sandra Bloom. “Trees, Flowers, and Fruits of the Forest” Greenbrier State Park is representative of one of the worlds most ancient and diverse ecosystems-the temperate broad-leaf forest of the Appalachian/Blue Ridge mountains. Situated on the lower slopes of Maryland 's South Mountain, this 1,407 acre park is dominated by oak-hickory forest with its characteristic flora.
Leader: Richard Stromberg. Walk on the Appalachian Trail on the C&O towpath east of Harpers Ferry seeing flora and fauna on the Canal and the banks of the Potomac. Among many other plants, Goldenrods and Asters will surely be blooming in profusion; we will attempt to differentiate. A non-plant highlight of this walk will be the basalt columns on Compton Peak.
Leader: Kevin Pawlak. Walking the Antietam battlefield today is a calm and peaceful exercise. Its serenity belies the carnage that swept over the landscape on September 17,1862, the bloodiest single day in American history—23,110 casualties in twelve hours of battle. Take a walk along the Antietam Creek and through the forests and fields on the southern end of the battlefield.
Saturday Leader: TBA; Sunday Leader: Kristen Zimet. Come explore “Nature’s Refrigerator,” a Nature Conservancy preserve whose special geology gave sanctuary to an unusual assemblage of boreal plants. We will enjoy both the Mountain’s history and its natural history. At a slow pace, we will walk to the Preserve and follow its two sloping trails, 3 miles in all, down to the North River and up to the top of North Mountain.
Leader: Laura Sebastianelli. Learn to use iNaturalist to explore, record, and share observations of native plants. In this workshop you will learn how to create an account, and post your observations with an iPhone, Android, and the web, and discover the observations of other iNaturalist users.
Leader: Charles Smith. Loudoun Heights is the second highest mountain overlooking Harpers Ferry. The trail features a waterfall and three overlooks, including a 900 foot bluff, and provides spectacular views of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Harpers Ferry and surrounding mountains. The trail traverses moderately difficult terrain with total elevation change of about 1,800 ft over 6.5 miles.
Leader: Laura Call Gastinger. Have you ever started a field sketchbook but ended up with incomplete pages and inconsistent entries? This class with botanist and botanical artist Lara Call Gastinger will teach basic plant identification, how to observe and document plants, and how to successfully maintain a sketchbook over the year. This class is for all levels.
Leader: Carrie Blair The NCTC campus has a wide range of deciduous forest and Potomac River Bottomland and is a home to many significant oaks, hickories, tulip trees, and a spectacular old Pecan as well as pawpaw, cucumber magnolia, and a basswood kentucky coffee tree.
Leader: Jim Vanderhorst. Explore the floodplain and upland habitats of NCTC.Depending on the desires of the group, this can be a 3-mile or 5-mile hike, including some rocky areas off trail. We will provide a vegetation map of the grounds and discuss the historical land use, natural disturbances, geology, and soils that have shaped the current vegetation.
Leader: Sally Anderson. We will visit an area of limestone cliffs along the Shenandoah River, and then visit another area of the WMA that has more acidic conditions. If time permits we may visit a broader floodplain area. Fall blooms will be at their peak, and we will also see ferns and woody plants, including some with berries and drupes.
Leader: Mary Jane Epps. This walk will focus not just on plants, but also on general natural history: various insects, fungi, and interactions that are taking place. The trail is a 2.5 mile paved loop around a former golf course leading from riverside to (steep!) mountainside to see a variety of plant communities, wet and dry, field and forest, stable and in transition.
Leader: Carole Bergmann. The Snavely Ford Trail along Antietam Creek is known as “THE wildflower hike” in Antietam Battlefield National Park. On one side we’ll see scenic Antietam creek through a rich floodplain forest (with large sycamore, red and silver maple, black walnut, spicebush). The other side edges an upland slope dominated by a well-developed native oak/hickory forest on limestone, with many rock outcrops and a diverse understory.
Leaders: Kirsten and Dwight Johnson. Limestone bluffs harbor uncommon plants including walking fern and maidenhair fern as well as rare northern white-cedar trees. We should also see a good number of composites and other fall-blooming flowers. Walking is mostly level.
How can we collaborate to boost conservation? With Alan Ford: President of the VNPS Potowmack Chapter, indefatigable weed warrior and dispenser of bonhomie. Winner of last year’s Conservation Hero Award.
Leader: Rochelle Bartolomei. Taylor’s Landing is at Mile marker 80.9 on the C&O Canal. The canal features level gently winding paths shared with bicyclists. We will do the botany shuffle, examining the diverse flora of the canal, venturing as far as time allows and then reversing our tracks. We’ll flex our ID skills on fall blooming asters and goldenrods, as well as seeking the more unusual of the canal’s vines, shrubs, and trees.
Leader: Neal Peterson. Celebrate the Pawpaw in our native landscape - throughout Eastern North America. The Pawpaw is our largest edible native fruit, weighing as much as one pound, possessing a sweet tropical taste. Neal Peterson will explore Pawpaw’s life cycle and ecological 10 niche, and its potential in home gardens.
Leaders: Rodney Dever and Carrie Blair. Become a tree detective and take your tree identification skills to the next level! You will learn to identify trees in all seasons in this combination of lab work and an outdoors tree walk. Review tree ID basics as well as advanced winter ID concepts.
Leader: Joe Metzger. This property, owned by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, is gently rolling former farmland gradually returning to its natural forested state. Home to105 different native plant species, and especially interesting because this land is in transition.