This summer, my yard teemed with goldfinches flocking to pick out coneflower seeds and monarch caterpillars munching on milkweed. By keeping binoculars handy, I’ve spotted red-tailed hawks, flickers, nuthatches, towhees, and purple finches. One evening, a blue heron landed in my yard to stalk the goldfish in the pond. And, of course, we have deer.
In our neighborhood, there are two right-of-way access points to the Northwest Branch trail — one off of Loxford Terrace and another at the end of Lockridge Drive (see top of map below). The public parking areas at the Burnt Mills dam on both the west and east side of Colesville Road allow convenient access to the beginning of the Northwest Branch trail heading north as well as the Rachel Carson Greenway Trail that goes in both directions.
For a more adventurous hike, the Rachel Carson Greenway Trail, which can be accessed from the parking lot on the east side of Colesville Road, goes southeast. This portion of the trail is steeper and more rugged as it skirts huge boulders along the stream and tumbles toward the flood plain, changing from a natural surface to asphalt shortly after going under the Capital Beltway. The hard-surface trail links into the Prince George’s County Anacostia Tributary Trail System.
For many years, volunteers from the North Four Corners community have played a significant role in preserving this natural resource by participating in periodic trail upkeep workdays and stream cleanup. More information about these volunteer opportunities can be found at the Montgomery Parks website. Whether you take advantage of these trails as a hiker or take on a more active role by volunteering to conserve this community asset, make sure to take some time to explore the Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park. ■
© 2017 NFCCA [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn201712e.html]