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April 5. 2017

Audubon Naturalist Society

Budbreak at Theodore Roosevelt Island

Budbreak at Theodore Roosevelt Island  FULL - REGISTER FOR WAITLIST ONLINE
Wednesday April 5 (9:30 am-1:30 pm)
Leader: Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Members: $28; nonmembers: $38

Join award-winning author and naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley for an early spring walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island, an 88-acre park in the middle of the Potomac River opposite the Kennedy Center. We will explore the park using a loop trail through the island’s forests and along the boardwalk through its scenic swamp. During spring in the Washington area, when naturalists’ eyes turn to our magical ephemerals and migrating birds, the miracle of “budbreak” among the woody plants is often overlooked. We will examine the buds of many species of trees and shrubs as they burst from their winter-protective scales to reveal their spring leaves and flowers. Expect a leisurely walk of 2-3 miles.

April 9, 2017

Politics and Prose

The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, D.C.

9:30am – 1:30pm
Cost of tour is $40.
This tour is sold out. For more information, contact Justin Stephani at

Join Melanie Choukas-Bradley, the author of A Year in Rock Creek Park—the Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, D.C., for a spring nature walk under the trees in the Boundary Bridge area of Rock Creek Park. Susan Austin Roth, the book's photographer and a Virginia Master Naturalist, will co-lead the walk if her work-travel schedule permits. Melanie and Susan are naturalists who frequently lead guided walks in the park, and they are intimately acquainted with the trees and wildflowers growing along Rock Creek. We will see Virginia bluebells, spring beauties, trout lilies and other early spring wildflowers of the floodplain forest as we witness the miracle of "budbreak" among the park's venerable trees. Our trail will take us into the upland woods where ancient oaks reach for the sky and the lovely wild pinxter azalea blooms. The walk will be a musical experience too – as resident and migrating birds sing from the canopy, we may hear the calls of spring peepers and other amphibians. Melanie and Susan will share some of their favorite spots, which are described and depicted in their book, including Boundary Bridge, the Skunk Cabbage Swamp, the Laurel Ledge, and Meditation Rock.

The tour will take place on Sunday, April 9th from 9:30 a.m. to roughly 1:30 p.m. The group will meet at the Boundary Bridge parking lot found along Beach Drive, where attendees can park. To get there, take the East-West Highway (Route 410) east from Connecticut Avenue (a right-hand turn if driving north on Connecticut from D.C. and a left-hand turn if driving south from the Beltway). Take the East-West Highway to Beach Drive and turn right (south) and drive to the locked gate across Beach Drive at the District line. Park in the parking lot just before the gate or along the road if the parking lot is full. Note: Beach Drive is closed to motorized vehicles south of the park gate on weekends.

Because the tour should last up to four hours, attendees are encouraged to bring water, snacks, and/or a light lunch. In addition, depending on the day’s weather, sunscreen and bug spray may be needed. Bring binoculars if you wish.

We will cover up to 2 ½ miles at a slow hiking pace with some elevation change on hiking trails. There are no restrooms at the meeting location or along the route.

For more information, contact Justin Stephani at

NOTE: Those buying both a spot on the walk and a copy of Melanie and Susan's A Year in Rock Creek Park—the Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, D.C. will receive 20% off the list price of the book!



Return Policy: Refunds are only guaranteed up to seven days before the trip.

April 12, 2017

Audubon Naturalist Society

A Year in Rock Creek Park

A Year in Rock Creek Park
B: Spring Wildflower and Budbreak Walk at Boundary Bridge
Wednesday April 12 (9:30 am-2:30 pm)

C: Forest Bathing at Pinehurst Branch
Wednesday, May 31 (9:30 am-12:30 pm)
D: Fall Nature Hike in Rock Creek Park
Saturday, November 4 (9:30 am-3:30 pm)
Leader: Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Walk C: members $28; nonmembers $38
Walks B and D: members $34; nonmembers $42

In 2016 the award-winning author of A Year in Rock Creek Park completed 10 years of her popular walks for ANS titled “A Year at Boundary Bridge.” This year, Melanie Choukas-Bradley will branch out into other areas of Rock Creek Park with a new series of field trips throughout the year. During the winter tree walk, we will examine the twigs, buds, bark, and overall shapes of the park’s floodplain and upland forest trees and shrubs as we look and listen for winter bird flocks and the always anticipated visit of a kingfisher. We will also look for the winter-flowering skunk cabbage. On the April walk, we will witness the annual floral miracle of  Virginia bluebells, spring beauties and trout lilies in the floodplain forest, in addition to the leaves of tuliptree and American beech spilling from their buds. In May, we will have a change of pace and scene with a Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing walk in the Pinehurst Branch area of Rock Creek Park. Autumn will find us hiking the Western Ridge and Valley Trails during peak autumn foliage and fruiting season, stopping to study and admire trees along the route. Please join ANS as we visit familiar parts of Rock Creek Park and explore new ones! The Boundary Bridge Walks will cover a 2.5 mile loop on natural surface trails with moderate uphill and downhill. The Fall Hike will traverse 4-6 miles, with uphill and downhill on natural surface trails which may be rocky and uneven.

Registration required. For registration information, email Pam Oves or call Pam at 301-652-9188 x16. To register online, go here, and click on the large button "Register Online."

April 14, 2017

Smithsonian Associates

A Rock Creek Park Tour All-Day Tour

Boulder Bridge, Rock Creek Park by Carol Highsmith (Library of Congress)

9:30am - 4:00pm
To get on the Wait List, click here.

There’s no more inviting time than spring to get a close-up look at the attractions of Rock Creek Park, Washington’s 1,700-acre urban oasis administered by the National Park Service that’s been welcoming visitors since 1890. Local natural historian Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of A Year in Rock Creek Park, leads a tour of the wondrous sights, both natural and manmade, that the park offers. Local experts and historians join the tour along the way to provide context and comment on some of the park’s natural highlights.

The tour includes walks through diverse terrain. Trails can be muddy, so please wear appropriate “off-roading” shoes and layers of comfortable clothing. Bring binoculars if you wish.

9:45 a.m. Thompson’s Boat House
This landmark sits where Rock Creek meets the Potomac River, at mile marker 0 on the C&O Canal.

10:15 a.m. Peirce Mill
Meet local historian Steve Dryden, who interprets the history of this 19th-century mill, and park ranger Bill Yeaman, who talks about spawning shad and herring at the fish ladder..

11:15 a.m.  Blagden Mill and Pulpit Rock
After crossing the aptly named Boulder Bridge, see Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite spot for his “scrambles” and notorious Rock Creek skinny dips.

11:45 a.m.  Rapids Bridge Nature Walk
The area around the lovely footbridge offers an ideal place to witness budbreak among the flood-plain trees and plants.

12:45 p.m.  Boxed Lunch at Rock Creek Park Nature Center
Box turtles, foxes, and of course, deer, make their home in the park. Learn about the abundant wildlife in Rock Creek and enjoy a picnic lunch.

1:45 p.m.  Milk House Ford and Joaquin Miller Cabin
Native Washingtonians may remember driving right across Rock Creek at Milk House Ford, where the water was only a few inches deep. Eccentric poet Joaquin Miller (1837–1913) originally built this cabin in Meridian Hill Park, but it was moved to Rock Creek Park in the early 1900s. Miller and his cabin were a tourist attraction for years.

2:30 p.m.  Boundary Bridge
Marking the line between the District and Maryland, Boundary Bridge was constructed by the Public Works Administration in the 1930s. It leads to a footpath bordered by towering sycamores and abundant wildflowers in spring bloom, including Rock Creek’s famous Virginia bluebells.

Bus departs at 9:30 a.m. from the S. Dillon Ripley Center; bus returns to this location at the program’s end.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)

Quick Tix Code: 1B0-201

April 23, 2017

Rock Creek Conservancy

Shinrin-Yoku or Forest Bathing Walk in Rock Creek Park

Sunday, April 23, 9:30 - approximately 12:30
Oregon Ave NW & Beech St NW, Washington, DC 20015

Join the Rock Creek Conservancy and Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of A Year in Rock Creek Park and City of Trees, for our inaugural Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing walk. We will meet in the Pinehurst Branch area of Rock Creek Park for a mindfulness walk under the tall trees near the scenic tributary. For more than 30 years, the forest agency of Japan has encouraged Japanese citizens to spend quiet time in the forest, taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tactile sensations of nature. Numerous health studies in Japan, North America and around the world have demonstrated measurable improvements in physical health and mood following sensory immersion in nature, including lowered blood pressure, lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increased immunity to disease. See the National Geographic January 2016 article: “This is Your Brain on Nature” and The Washington Post’s“’Forest Bathing is Latest Fitness Trend to Hit U.S. –‘Where Yoga Was 30 Years Ago,’” May 17, 2016. Melanie will share some simple techniques she has learned to help us connect more deeply with the beauty and wonder of the forest and waters that the Rock Creek Conservancy works so hard to protect. (Melanie is a Forest Therapy Guide who has received certification with the California Bay-area Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs Santa Rosa, CA.)

Registration: This is a free event. Participants must sign up here! Limited spots are available.

Meeting Place and Directions: We will meet at the intersection of 6800 Oregon Avenue and 3000 Beech Street, NW. (Note, this is Beech Street, not Beach Drive.) The meeting place is 1 mile north of Military Road and .4 miles north of Nebraska Avenue on Oregon Avenue. From Connecticut Avenue, NW take Western Avenue east from the Chevy Chase Circle at the DC/MD line. In one mile turn right on Beech Street and take it to Oregon Avenue. There is parking along Beech Street near Oregon.

Please note: There are no restrooms at our meeting place. There are restrooms at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center, 5200 Glover Road, 1.3 miles south of our meeting place. Nature Center opens at 9:00 a.m.

What to Wear and Bring: Wear warm comfortable clothing and dress in layers for the weather. Wear sturdy shoes with good soles as trails may be muddy. This is a rain or shine event, unless conditions are dangerous or miserable. Wear sunscreen and bring water and snacks.

What to Expect: We will be walking very slowly and covering a distance of about a mile during our 2-3 hour forest bathing walk. We will provide light portable canvas chairs that we encourage you to carry for the sitting portions of the walk. (Given the slow pace of the walk, extra layers of clothing are recommended for comfort.)

April 30, 2017

DC Ecowomen

Rock Creek Park Nature Hike

Join DC EcoWomen and Melanie Choukas-Bradley, the author of the award-winning book “A Year in Rock Creek Park—the Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, D.C.," for a walk under the trees in Rock Creek Park. Melanie is a naturalist who frequently leads guided walks in the park and is intimately acquainted with the trees and wildflowers growing along Rock Creek.

The tour will take place on Sunday, April 30, from 10:00 a.m. to roughly 1:00 p.m. The group will meet at the Peirce Mill, a historic mill building located in Rock Creek Park, at Tilden Street and Beach Drive. Parking is available for attendees, and the mill is less than a mile from the Van Ness-UDC and Cleveland Park Metro stations.

Because the tour should last up to three hours, attendees are encouraged to bring water, snacks, and/or a light lunch. In addition, depending on the day’s weather, sunscreen and bug spray may be needed.

We will cover up to 2 ½ miles at a slow hiking pace with some elevation change on trails. Note: there are restrooms at Peirce Mill, but not along the route.

To register, please go here.

Note: While DC EcoWomen hosts many co-ed events throughout the year, this is a women-only event.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley is a Washington, D.C. author and naturalist who leads field trips and tree tours for the Audubon Naturalist Society, the United States Botanic Garden, Casey Trees, the Maryland and Virginia Native Plant Societies, the Rock Creek Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, and other organizations. She is the author of A Year in Rock Creek Park: The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, D.C., with photographs by Susan Austin Roth. The book was published in two editions in the fall of 2014 by George F. Thompson Publishing. The softcover edition is distributed by the University of Virginia Press.

Melanie is the author of three other critically acclaimed books: City of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, D.C., illustrated by Polly Alexander and now in its third edition (2008), An Illustrated Guide to Eastern Woodland Wildflowers and Trees: 350 Plants Observed at Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland, illustrated by Tina Thieme Brown (2004, 2007), and Sugarloaf: The Mountain’s History, Geology, and Natural Lore, illustrated by Tina Thieme Brown (2003), all published by the University of Virginia Press. She is also a long-time contributor to The Washington Post and other publications, has appeared as an author and guest expert on All Things Considered, The Diane Rehm Show, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, and Metro Connection. In 2014, Melanie was awarded one of four inaugural “Canopy Awards” by Casey Trees, for her efforts to educate people about the trees of Washington, D.C. You can learn more about Melanie here.

When: Sunday, April 30th, 10:00am-1:00 pm

Where: Peirce Mill, a historic mill building located in Rock Creek Park, at Tilden Street and Beach Drive

May 6, 2017

United States Botanic Garden

Spring Tree Tour of the Capitol Grounds

DATE: Saturday, May 6
TIME: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
LOCATION: Tour will meet in front of the USBG Conservatory entrance on the Terrace
FREE: This program is full. For more registration information, please click here.
Melanie Choukas-Bradley, Author of City of Trees

Spend a May morning strolling under the venerable trees that grace the U.S. Capitol grounds with Melanie. The lush and botanically diverse Capitol grounds were designed by the pre-eminent 19th century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted--designer of New York City's Central Park and many other North American landscapes--and they have been described as one of the world's finest arboretums. We will explore the historic groves of the Capitol at the height of spring foliage and flower, admiring and learning about the trees that grace the grounds, including species from around the United States and the world. We hope to see magnolias, dogwoods, buckeyes, horsechestnuts, and other flowering trees in bloom. The tour begins at the USBG Conservatory and continues to the Capitol. Learn some basics of tree identification and a secret side of political Washington: the love of trees that goes back to founding presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and led to the capital becoming known as the "City of Trees." Memorial trees planted by Members of Congress--including one that is 104 years old--are among the trees on the tour. Hear arboreal highlights of the city's planning history and recommendations for local natural areas for further exploration. Please note: This tour is held outdoors. We suggest bringing sunscreen, protective clothing, and water. The tour is canceled if it rains.

May 10, 2017

Montgomery County Cable Channel 21
"Forward Motion" hosted by Karen Allyn

Television Interview: “A Year in Rock Creek Park”


May 10th 4 pm

Check back later for additional airtimes.



May 17, 2017

Audubon Naturalist Society

Spring Hike on Sugarloaf

Wednesday, May 17 (10 am-3 pm)
Leaders: Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Tina Thieme Brown
Members $34; nonmembers $46

The author and the artist of two books about Sugarloaf Mountain team up once again for a seasonal outing devoted to the botany, wildlife, geology, and history of our local monadnock in the rural Piedmont northwest of Washington, D.C. The 1.5-2.5 mile hike is timed to coincide with the budding and flowering of many woodland plants, including mountain laurel, pinxter, fringe-tree, Canada mayflower, several violet species, and possibly one or more orchids. Bring binoculars to look for Wood Thrushes, Worm-eating Warblers, Ravens, and other bird species. Over lunch, Tina will show you how to approach a quick leaf sketch, and Melanie will introduce the concept of "forest bathing," time permitting. Our hike includes uphill/downhill walking over rocky trails and a fairly steep ¼ mile hike up to the summit—all at a leisurely pace.

May 23, 2017

Smithsonian Associates

City of Trees

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
Code: 1B0205

SPECIAL OPTIONS: Purchase this program with a tour on either May 25 or 26. Click below for more information.

The trees of Washington, D.C., are rich in botanic diversity and arboreal history—a living legacy built on the horticultural expertise and passion for trees of Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Local natural historian Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author ofCity of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, D.C. (University of Virginia Press) offers an illustrated overview of many of the city’s notable green spaces and landscaped landmarks, including the White House, Capitol grounds, National Arboretum, and the Tidal Basin, as well as area sites such as Mount Vernon. She discusses the city’s canopy trees and iconic flowering trees, and leads a virtual tour of Rock Creek Park, the nation’s oldest urban national park.

Choukas-Bradley, who in 2014 was awarded one of four inaugural Canopy Awards by Casey Trees for her work in educating the public about the trees of the nation’s capital, signs the third edition of City of Trees, as well as her most recent book A Year in Rock Creek Park: The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, D.C.

June 7, 2017

Audubon Naturalist Society

Forest Bathing Walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island

Wednesday, June 7 (9:30 am-1 pm)
Leader: Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Members $28; nonmembers $38

Join natural history author Melanie Choukas-Bradley for a Shirin-Yoku or forest bathing walk at Theodore Roosevelt Island. Numerous studies in Japan, Europe and North America have demonstrated the health benefits of spending quiet time immersed in nature, including lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lowered blood pressure, increased immune system function, and elevated mood (things that ANS members already knew!). We will walk for about 2.5 miles at a slow pace and spend quiet time sitting and watching summer wildflowers and nectaring butterflies. Our leader says this walk is "more about being than IDing." She has portable forest bathing stools to loan to each participant for the duration of the walk. Limited to 14 participants.

June 17, 2017

Upshur Street Books

Rock Creek Park Tour

Sat, June 17, 9:30am – 1:30pm
827 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011, USA

Melanie Choukas Bradley, author of A Year in Rock Creek Park, will take us on a fascinating walking tour of the oldest natural urban park in the National Park System. More details coming.

June 28, 2017

Friends of Theodore Roosevelt Island

Nature Walk on TRI (Details forthcoming)







Nature photographs by Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Polly Alexander.

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