Morven Park celebrates National Trails Day on Saturday, June 7, with the opening of two new hiking trails, providing more than two miles of public access within the Park’s wooded acres.
The community is invited to join in the opening ceremony and be the first to hike the trails, one running along the lower edge of the Catoctin Ridge, and the other taking a more challenging route to the highest point (640 feet) within Morven Park’s 1,000 acres. Visitors can also visit the monarch butterfly garden recently planted by local Girl Scouts and purchase plants to build their own home gardens in support of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s “Bringing Back the Monarch” campaign.
Kids and adults alike will enjoy the opportunity to see “eco-goats” at work, eating the invasive plant species that have taken root along the trails. And they will have a chance to visit Popcorn and Caramel, the 2013 presidential pardoned turkeys, who make their home at Morven Park along with the site’s resident heritage turkey, Franklin.
Thanks to volunteer trail builders from the Leesburg Daybreak Rotary Club, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, and Loudoun County High School Naval Junior ROTC, the Wood Thrush Trail runs from the Park’s Turkey Hill Farm in the center of the property to its athletic fields on the northern edge. It consists of a .81-mile path plus an optional .47-mile loop.
A short connector path from Turkey Hill Farm leads to the 1.24-mile Ridge Top Trail. This trail was constructed by 8th-grade students from Sterling’s Seneca Ridge Middle School as part of a service learning project developed by Morven Park in partnership with Loudoun County Public Schools. A number of volunteer mentors – including representatives from Loudoun County’s Master Gardeners, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, local businesses and non-profits – provided guidance to the 8th graders.
Directional signage and maps for both trails were funded by a grant from the American Hiking Society, sponsor of National Trails Day, the country’s largest celebration of trails.
Saturday’s celebration is free to the public and will be located at Turkey Hill Farm. Visitors are encouraged to park in the main public lot, accessed via Old Waterford Road. Comfortable shoes are suggested, as the parking lot is about a 10-minute walk from Turkey Hill Farm. Like the rest of the grounds at Morven Park, the trails will be open to the public every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, from 8 a.m. until dusk.