Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens was established to demonstrate the indigenous plants native to the Potomac River Valley as well as to highlight plants from around the world. At just under 95 acres the gardens are an ideal place for a quiet walk or an afternoon picnic. A series of gentle trails weave their way among the plantings and ponds providing beautiful views and an opportunity to see a variety of wildlife.
Soon after leaving the garden center there is a large butterfly garden to the right of the trail. In spring and summer search the blooms for species such as common buckeyes, red-spotted purples and question marks. As the trail winds downhill, check near the large pines for small groups of chipping sparrows and scan the lawn for eastern bluebirds hopping around in the grass. The tiny creek that flows under the trail could attract a waterthrush during migration, and the bushes should hold a Carolina wren or a northern cardinal in any season.
Down around the pond, look for a green heron stalking the shoreline or eastern painted turtles basking along its banks. These waters are the hunting ground of dozens of dragonflies in the summer, with eastern amberwings and widow skimmers zigzagging their way about the pond. As you ascend up a slight incline and into the woods, listen for chickadee and titmice flocks that may also host a few warblers or vireos in migration or perhaps a brown creeper or nuthatch in the winter.
From Claude Moore Park, return north on Rt. 637/Cascades Parkway for 0.6 miles to the entrance ramp to SR 7/Harry Byrd Highway. Merge onto SR 7 and follow it southeast for 8.1 miles to Rt. 702/Beulah Road Turn right (west) and go 1.6 miles to the park entrance on the right.