The Maryland Native Plant Society

The Maryland Native Plant Society
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  • MNPS Field Trip: Winter Solstice Walk & Hooley at Ferry Hill

MNPS Field Trip: Winter Solstice Walk & Hooley at Ferry Hill

  • 12/21/2014
  • 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • Washington Co. MD


Leaders: Rod Simmons and Carole Bergmann 

Sponsors: MNPS, VNPS Potowmack Chapter and Botanical Society of Washington

Celebrate the winter season at Ferry Hill with its spectacular scenery and remarkable diversity of native plants, wildlife, and natural communities.  

Ferry Hill, part of the C&O Canal National and Historical Park, sits atop a high bluff and cliffs overlooking the Potomac River just opposite Shepherdstown, West Virginia. From the summit of the site, we will traverse the exceptional, old-age Rich Cove and Slope Forest that extends along the north of the property overlooking the C&O Canal and Potomac River. After descending from the forest, we will walk along the base of the cliffs and the towpath to see a diversity of evergreen ferns, bryophytes, and other plants. The Rich Cove and Slope Forest at Ferry Hill is considered to be one of Maryland’s finest examples of this natural community type.

During this year’s trip, we’ll see a diversity of species and natural communities, including old-age Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Cucumber-tree (Magnolia acuminata), White Oak (Quercus alba), Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra), Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), White Ash (Fraxinus americana), American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), and American Basswood (Tilia americana var. americana), as well as American Arbovitae (Thuja occidentalis), Black Maple (Acer nigrum), Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra), Paw Paw (Asimina triloba), and others. We’ll also see many species of evergreen ferns and other plants growing on the limestone cliffs. If there’s time, we also hope to measure for nomination to the Maryland Big Tree Register two champion-sized Cucumber-trees, and possibly other exceptionally large and old trees.

Notes:  Most of the walk traverses rolling, fairly open forest along trails, though some steep grades will occasionally be encountered.

Free field trip. Registration is not required.

Cancellation Policy:  *In the event of heavy-steady snow, sleet, or pouring rain, or icy, dangerous conditions of roads, the field trip will be cancelled. The rain or snow date will be TBA in January 2015. In the event of a rain date for the walk, the description and route will follow as planned, with the emphasis on winter evergreens.

Bring: Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch or snacks and water.  
In Maryland from the Capital Beltway (495), take 270 west towards Frederick. At Frederick, take I-70 west a short ways to Alt. 40 west (Exit 49). Take Alt. 40 west to Boonsboro. Turn left onto Shepherdstown Pike (Rt. 34) in Boonsboro and proceed to entrance on right at Ferry Hill just before bridge over Potomac River. Proceed up driveway to parking area beyond mansion.

From Virginia, take Rt. 9 west to Hillsboro. Just past Hillsboro, turn right onto Rt. 671 and proceed to Loudoun Heights at Rt. 340. Turn left onto Rt. 340 and proceed a short ways past Harpers Ferry and Bolivar to right turn onto Rt. 230 (Shepherdstown Grade Road). Proceed north on Rt. 230 to Shepherdstown and to junction of Rt. 45. Turn right onto Rt. 45 and proceed a short ways, crossing the Potomac River bridge, and turning left almost immediately on the Maryland side into the entrance drive to Ferry Hill. Proceed up driveway to parking area beyond mansion. (Rt. 45 is a West Virginia route which becomes Rt. 34 in Maryland.)

Contact:  Liz Jones, elksjones at

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