Within the Chesapeake Bay watershed there are so many outdoor spaces to be thankful for. Whether it’s a state park, major tributary or a small urban trail, our region has a wide variety of places to explore and recharge. For Thanksgiving, we asked a handful of Chesapeake Bay Program staff to tell us about the getaways that mean the most to them!
Concord Point Lighthouse
Julie Reichert-Nguyen, Climate Resiliency Workgroup Coordinator:
One of my favorite places is the Concord Point Lighthouse at a waterfront park in Havre de Grace, Maryland. My husband and I got married here and when we looked out to the Bay on our wedding day we were filled with joy. It made me want to protect the Bay even more for future generations.
Carderock Recreation Area
Bo Williams, Special Assistant to the Director:
I’m thankful for the Carderock section of the Potomac River (from the Mather Gorge to Cabin John Island), just upstream from the border of Washington, D.C. and Maryland. It has provided the setting for many formative events in my life—I asked my wife to marry me aside its cliffs and spent countless hours kayaking, fishing and swimming its (relatively unforgiving) waters.
Susan Campbell Park
Breck Sullivan, Scientific, Technical Assessment and Reporting (STAR) Coordinator:
I am thankful for Susan Campbell Park in Annapolis, Maryland. This spot brings me out in nature to attend sunrise yoga taught by Lindsay Cook to start my day right with calmness, strength and new beginnings. Pictures cannot do the scene justice, when minutes before sunrise, pinks and oranges are smeared across the dark sky, highlighting the Bay Bridge, all while Spa Creek sits still. Every moment adds more color, and every moment makes me more thankful to have this space nearby.
Briana Yancy, Diversity Workgroup Coordinator:
One of my favorite places is Calvert Cliffs. I love Calvert Cliffs because the trail down to the beach is filled with different habitats and the beach itself transports you back in time. Unfortunately, this place is eroding away and it feels like the beach gets smaller and smaller every visit.
Black Walnut Creek
Katie Brownson, Watershed Specialist:
I am most thankful for Black Walnut Creek, which is a lovely little inlet just off the Bay. It is only accessible to non-motorized boats, which makes it a fabulous place to explore by canoe and stand-up paddleboard, with abundant blue herons, osprey and bald eagles. I feel so lucky to have such great access to water and wildlife just down the road from my house.
Susquehanna State Park
Justin Shapiro, Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team Coordinator:
My favorite place in the watershed is Susquehanna State Park, found just to the south of the Conowingo Dam. I love to hike along the river's bank, spotting bald eagles and late-summer paw-paw fruit. In the upland forests there are huge blooms of Virginia bluebells, and even Maryland's largest white oak (the state tree). In the densely populated Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, I am thankful to have found a park that is quiet and peaceful.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Katheryn Barnhart, Indicators Coordinator:
My favorite place in the watershed is Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I really enjoy birding, and I have never seen so many species of waterfowl and waterbirds in one place as I saw when I went during the winter in 2020.
Herring Run and Stony Run
Amy Goldfischer, Scientific, Technical Assessment and Reporting (STAR) Staffer:
I'm thankful for the streamside walking paths and parks in Baltimore, especially the ones closest to me: Herring Run and Stony Run. I'm thankful to have outdoor spaces close by where I can walk, run, bike, look for interesting plants and wildlife, and enjoy the shade of trees on hot days.
Gunpowder Falls State Park
Ola-Imani Davis, Local Government Advisory Committee Staffer:
I am truly thankful for Gunpowder Falls State Park. From my college years to today, the hillside trail to the rushing rapids has been my favorite place to meditate and recharge.
Will Parson, Multimedia Manager:
Truxtun Park in Annapolis was my go-to green space during the pandemic. I could walk from my door to the trails through the woods overlooking downtown from across Spa Creek, which widens into a boat-filled tidal tributary near the park. I was in the middle of a city but I could be away from people and close to wildlife. The covid shutdown began shortly before many ephemeral forest plants emerged in early spring, so the woods offered a chance to escape and watch the subtle cascade of the seasons.
Historic maritime neighborhoods
Greg Barranco, Government Affairs & Partnerships Team Lead:
I’m thankful for all the waterfront, street-end, public-access parks in Maryland that were planned as part of many of our colonial towns in places like Oxford, St. Michaels, Cambridge and others. As an avid sailor, I’m thankful for the rich maritime history of the Chesapeake that still provides thrills and excitement to thousands of people every year.
Thomas Point Lighthouse
Greg Allen, Toxic Contaminants Workgroup Coordinator:
I am thankful for Thomas Point Lighthouse. I ran a sportfishing charter boat out of Annapolis for several years and this lighthouse was always a sign of being home. Plus, it holds a lot of fish so we had wonderful times catching rockfish there!
Washington, D.C., greenspace
Emily Heller, Environmental Protection Specialist:
I’m thankful for basically any place in Washington, D.C., with greenspace and access to water. Living in the city with asthma, I’ve never realized how much I appreciate being able to take a deep breath without the congestion and air pollution that inevitably comes in any city. Some of my favorite spots include: Rock Creek Park, Franklin Park, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Shenandoah, Chincoteague, Great Falls, Virginia Beach and the Patapsco River.
Garrett Stewart, Management Board, Principals’ Staff Committee and Executive Council Staffer:
A place I’m thankful for is Difficult Run, a 16-mile tributary that flows from its headwaters in central Fairfax County to where it meets the Potomac River below Great Falls in Mather’s Gorge. The stream runs laconically for the majority of its course but crescendos to a dramatic finale in its last mile as it tumbles into the Potomac. The park surrounding Difficult Run hosts many iconic species including the great blue heron and bald eagle, (and until the 1990s, the brook trout). Its oxbows and pools provide quality fishing and swimming holes, and Mather’s Gorge provides an exciting challenge for paddlers willing to test themselves on Class V rapids. Difficult Run is an oasis in a landscape increasingly defined by asphalt and concrete; I am thankful for its continued preservation and am hopeful that one day it will be restored to a condition I’ve never seen.
Warrior Mountain Wildlife Management Area
Peter Tango, Chesapeake Bay Monitoring Coordinator:
A favorite public place I am thankful for is Warrior Mountain Wildlife Management Area in western Maryland. I have camped there, hunted there, hiked there, trained for marathons out there and observed the beautiful wildlife. The mountain’s valley can be raucous, filled with a symphony of whip-poor-will songs on the right morning. It’s deafening, and just awesome! As the birds move about I have had them land near me and just keep right on calling before they take off again heading north. It makes me smile just thinking about those mornings.
Melissa Fagan, Career Development Program Coordinator:
I am thankful for the beautiful parks, trails, vistas and waterfalls tucked into Catoctin Mountain in Thurmont, Maryland. Scrambling up the boulders lining Cunningham Falls and roasting marshmallows around a campfire are some of my family's favorite ways to spend time on the mountain. My family’s visits bring back happy memories of my own childhood trips and give us all a chance to escape the busy-ness of our daily lives.
What public access site in the watershed are you thankful for? Tell us in the comments!