Updated on November 12, 2017
Day Trip to Rock Creek Park
This is basically a photo collection about my trip to Rock Creek Park in DC on October 15th, 2017.
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Well, within the boundary of District of Columbia, Rock Creek Park was probably the closest one can get to nature. A perfect and not-so-far weekend getaway. Although I shall admit autumn in DC was much longer than what I expected. Watching leaves falling outside my house I thought autumn must be in its prime, and Rock Creek Park would look beautiful with a colorful blend of leaves. It turned out that I went probably a week or two earlier, so the majority of leaves were still green, and I sort of had to resort to Photoshop to make the pictures nice. But anyway, it’s at least a nice workout in the jungles of Rock Creek Park.
So I got off the Metro at Columbia Heights Station, which is 1.5 miles from Pierce Mill, a not-so-official South Entrance of Rock Creek Park. Since I would be hiking in the park for long distances, I opted to cover these distances on foot, which led me through some of DC’s most scenic neighborhoods.
Isaac Peirce built Peirce Mill on Rock Creek in 1829. Using the moving water as a power source, the mill ground corn, wheat, and rye. Succeeding generations further developed the mill, sawmill, orchard, and tree nursery. Before the Civil War, slaves provided much of the labor on the 960 acre property. In 1890, an act of Congress incorporated the mill and 350 acres of the property into Rock Creek Park. The mill operated until the turbine’s shaft broke in 1897.
Oh, it’s really hard to believe such a insignificant cottage could be a national park site. Guide boards at the site showed the complexities of different houses that once stood on the site and constituted a sophisticated farm. Till this day, only the mill house was left standing, but amazingly, its interior was preserved in awesome conditions, and by the park rangers, everything was still functional and there were twice monthly demonstration of the water wheels.
The only difference might be that the ditch that used to channel water to the water wheel was filled, and strange regulations prohibited the Mill from taking water from the nearby creek, so ironically there was water pump just next to the waterwheel to keep it running in demonstrations.
After that, I followed the trails up North. Unfortunately, Beach Drive between Pierce Mill and Military Road was closed for construction during my visit, so there was often piles of construction materials ruining what would otherwise be very nice sceneries.
I think this boulder bridge was sort of the cover picture for Rock Creek Park, and I got those leaves in red and orange and gold adding to the vividness of this shot. Unfortunately, my tour around this bridge was ruined by the harsh reality of construction materials nearby.
Unfortunately, this part of trail west of Rock Creek and south of Military Road happened to be a horse trail, which demanded extra attention on the ground as where to set foot.
It has been a foggy and overcast morning, until suddenly I saw those bright beams of sunlight through the leaves, always a welcoming sign.
I stopped my journey short of Boundary Bridge, near West Beach Drive, where I figured that’s enough for the day (actually I only trekked for a couple of hours), and I could make my way on foot to Silver Spring Metro Station to end this trip.
But the most exciting part of the day was on North Portal Drive, actually out of Rock Creek Park, when I saw this pack of deer just along the road in the bushes. Gosh, that’s the most deer I saw in a pack that’s not in a zoo. Yes, they were first alerted by my presence, but they were kind enough to let me take these photos and not long after, chewing leaves as usual.
Brief conclusion, I may come a week or two early for the best of autumn at Rock Creek Park, but the trails are quiet and tranquilizing (and not difficult at all), which was ideal for somebody looking for some quiet hours to himself to chill out. There were (but not many) a couple of bathrooms and water fountain along the trail (anyway this is DC), so Rock Creek Park was somewhere one can really pack light and go.