Check back later for more spring events.

April 4, 2018

Audubon Naturalist Society

A Year at Theodore Roosevelt Island

A: Budbreak and Spring Wildflower Walk at Theodore Roosevelt Island, Wednesday, April 4 (10 am-2 pm)
B: Summer Kayaking Trip around Theodore Roosevelt Island with Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Stephanie Mason, Wednesday, July 18 (10 am-1 pm)
C: Autumn Tree Walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island, Wednesday, November 7 (10 am-2 pm)
D: Late Autumn Tree Walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island, Wednesday, December 5 (10 am-2 pm)
Each walk: members $28; nonmembers $38

Join Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of A Year in Rock Creek Park and City of Trees, for a year-long exploration of Theodore Roosevelt Island, a 90-acre island in the Potomac that serves as a fitting memorial to our conservationist and naturalist 26th  president—and Audubon Naturalist Society member! In the early spring, we’ll witness the miracle of budbreak among the island’s remarkable trees and see the floodplain forest come alive with Virginia bluebells, spring beauties, trout lilies, and trilliums. During summer, ANS Senior Naturalist Stephanie Mason will join us for a kayaking trip around the island, launching from Key Bridge Boathouse on the Georgetown waterfront. We’ll paddle under the island’s graceful silver maples and sycamores, get close to the  summer wildflowers along the shore, and watch herons, egrets, wood ducks and—hopefully—the noisy kingfisher! As a bonus, we’ll be treated to stunning views of the Lincoln Memorial and the “City of Trees” on the horizon. Our fall tree walks will take us deep into the swamp and tidal inlet along the boardwalk where willows, bald-cypresses and cattails frame views of the city behind it. Melanie will share details of the island’s fascinating history during this year-long exploration and we’ll witness the ebb and flow of the Potomac tides along with the changing seasons. 

Fee for trip B does not include canoe or kayak rental. 


April 6, 2018

"Forward Motion" television interview
hosted by Karen Allyn.

Tune in to Montgomery County 
Cable Channel 21

“A Year in Rock Creek Park”
(Click on the image to see the interview.)

April 6 4pm
May 28
June 8 4pm

April 7, 2018

Audubon Naturalist Society

A Year in Rock Creek Park

B: Spring Wildflower and Budbreak Walk at Boundary Bridge, Saturday, April 7 (9:30 am-2:30 pm)
C: Nearing the Solstice Nature Walk at Boundary Bridge, Saturday, June 16 (9:30 am-2:30 pm)
D: Fall Nature Hike in Rock Creek Park, Saturday, November 3 (9:30 am-3:30 pm)
Walk A: members $28; nonmembers $38
Walks B, C, and D: members $34; nonmembers $42

Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of the award-winning book, A Year in Rock Creek Park and the critically acclaimed, City of Trees, will offer her twelfth year of popular nature walks for ANS in the country’s oldest urban national park, created in 1890. 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 rattling voice 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, and admire the leaves of tuliptree and American beech as they begin to spill from their buds. In June, we’ll revisit the dense canopy of floodplain forest and upland woods of the Boundary Bridge area as we learn about and marvel over trees, late spring and early summer wildflowers and nesting birds. Autumn will find us hiking the Western Ridge and Valley Trails during peak fall foliage and fruiting season, stopping to study and admire oaks, maples, hickories and many other trees along the route. 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. 


April 11, 2018

Smithsonian Associates

Spring Nature Walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island

When: Saturday, April 11, 2018 at 9:30am
Where: The Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot next to the footbridge.
Register here.

Enjoy the magic of a spring morning on Roosevelt Island, a 90-acre wooded oasis and national memorial in the middle of the tidal Potomac and located entirely within the District. Author and naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley leads a scenic walk around the island, pointing out distinguishing features of the sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, oaks, beeches, musclewoods, river birches, basswoods, and many other tree species in their spring glory. Look and listen, as well, for great blue herons, bald eagles, belted kingfishers, and wood ducks while gazing out over the Potomac River toward the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial, and other iconic DC landmarks. 

During the walk, hear highlights of the fascinating history of the island, which was once owned by the family of George Mason. Last fall marked the fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of the island’s memorial to our 26th president.

Choukas-Bradley is the author of City of Trees, A Year in Rock Creek Park, and a nature memoir about Theodore Roosevelt Island.

Dress for the weather and bring water and snacks or a picnic lunch. (Walk will go rain or shine, depending on conditions.)

April 14, 2018

Politics and Prose

A Walking Tour through Rock Creek Park

Saturday, April 14, 9:30am to 1:30pm

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 look for 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 grows. 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 Saturday, April 14th from 9:30 a.m. to roughly 1:30 p.m – there are no restrooms at the meeting location or along the route. 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.

Because the tour should last up to four hours, attendees are encouraged to bring water, snacks, and a light lunch. In addition, 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.

Price of the walk and a copy of A Year in Rock Creek Park—the Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, D.C. (9781938086243): $65

Price of the walk: $40

To be added to the wait list, contact Justin Stephani at

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

April 27, 2018

United States Botanic Garden

Arbor Day Tree Tour of the Capitol Grounds

Event just added, registration spots still open!

DATE: Friday, April 27
TIME: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
LOCATION: Tour meets in the Conservatory Lobby
FREE: Pre-registration required

Melanie Choukas Bradley, Author of City of Trees
Celebrate Arbor Day and stroll around the Capitol with Melanie, admiring and learning about its magnificent trees from around the country and the world. Learn to identify Kentucky coffee-trees, Japanese pagoda trees, beeches, magnolias, and dogwoods. Melanie will focus on the bark, buds, and overall growth habit of grand old trees, including many official state trees and memorial plantings. Giant sequoias and a massive bur oak are among the trees on the tour. Melanie will share history of the Capitol grounds and the city of Washington throughout the tour. Please note: This tour is held outdoors. Please come prepared to be outside. The tour is canceled if it rains or snows.

April 29, 2018

The Nature Conservancy /Maryland/DC

City Nature Challenge: Tree Tour of the Capitol Grounds

April 29, 2018, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

US Botanic Garden
100 Maryland Ave SW
Washington, DC 20001

The United States Capitol in
Washington, DC. © Devan King / The
Nature Conservancy

Which city on Earth has the most nature and the most engaged residents? Join us for the City Nature Challenge and find out!

The City Nature Challenge encourages people to discover and document the biodiversity of our urban spaces. What started as a friendly competition in 2016 between San Francisco and Los Angeles has now grown into a global event touching down in 65 cities in 17 countries. It’s easy to participate using the iNaturalist app (free on the app store). Just take a picture of a plant or animal and upload it to the app!

The Nature Conservancy is offering three guided events during the challenge weekend. The Tree Tour will be on Sunday, April 29 from 10am to 1pm.

Washington, DC author and naturalist, Melanie Choukas-Bradley, will guide attendees through identifying the diverse tree species planted on the Capitol grounds, including oak, maple, beech, fringe-tree, flowering dogwood, magnolia and buckeye. Melanie will also share a bit of history about the grounds and the city of Washington.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required and space is limited to 25 people (children and adults). Click here to RSVP. We will meet at the US Botanic Garden.

Restrooms will be available when the conservancy opens at 10:00 a.m. The tour will last approximately three hours. Attendees are encouraged to bring water, snacks, and/or a light bagged lunch. Sunscreen and bug spray may be needed depending on the weather. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring binoculars if you wish. This tour is weather dependent and will be cancelled in the event of rain.

Melanie Choukas-Bradley has authored a host of critically acclaimed books including, City of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, DC, illustrated by Polly Alexander. For more information on Melanie's work, please visit her website.

May 3, 2018

National Arboretum

Bask in the Beauty of Bonsai: Forest Bathing Among Treasured Trees

(Registration details forthcoming)

May 12, 2018

United States Botanic Garden

Tour: Spring Tree Tour of the Capitol Grounds

DATE: Saturday, May 12
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

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 19, 2018

City of Alexandria
Dora Kelley Nature Park, Alexandria, Virginia

Forest Bathing Walk

Saturday, May 19, 2018, 9:30am - 12:30pm
5750 Sanger Ave., Alexandria, VA 22311
Adults - $9.00
Activity #419802-01
begins March 14

Join us for a forest bathing walk at Dora Kelley Nature Park led by Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author, naturalist and certified forest therapy guide. Learn why forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, has become such a popular practice around the world and here at home.

Forest bathing started in Japan during the 1980s as a means of combating stress and improving physical and mental health. Studies from around the world have documented the health benefits of quiet time spent in nature. We will walk at a slow pace, exploring the Holmes Run Stream Valley and the marsh, and then continuing into the upland woods where tall trees rise above mountain laurel, which may be blooming.

We will savor the beauty of the springtime trees and flowers, as well as listen for songbirds and other sounds of nature! Portable tripod stools are available to lend to each participant for the sitting portions of the walk.

May 25, 2018

Audubon Naturalist Society

Spring Hike on Sugarloaf

Friday, May 25. 2018(10 am-3 pm)
Leaders: Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Tina Thieme Brown
Members $34; nonmembers $42

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 mile hike is timed to coincide with High Spring’s greening of the Sugarloaf Mountain woodlands and many plants, including mountain laurel and fringe-tree. Bring binoculars to look for Wood Thrushes, Warblers, Ravens, and other bird species. After 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. REGISTER HERE

May 31, 2018

National Arboretum

Bask in the Beauty of Bonsai: Forest Bathing Among Treasured Trees

(Registration details forthcoming)

June 1, 2018

United States Botanic Garden

Immersive Nature Walk in the National Garden

(Registration details forthcoming)

June 8, 2018

Smithsonian Associates

Finding Paradise in Montgomery County:
Sugarloaf Mountain and the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve All-Day Tour

Friday, June 8, 2018 - 8:30am to 7:30pm
Code: 1ND027

A summer day in Western Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve (Photo: Martin Radigan)

Did you know there is rural beauty nearby to Washington that rivals the English countryside or Provence? Spend a June day exploring the verdant rolling hills of Montgomery County’s scenic 93,000 acre Agricultural Reserve and nearby Sugarloaf Mountain. Melanie Choukas-Bradley, a longtime resident of the reserve and author of two books about Sugarloaf, serves as guide and introduces some of her favorite places in this close-in slice of paradise bordering the Frederick County line.

Along the way, she covers two remarkable preservation stories: Gordon Strong’s lifelong mission to save Sugarloaf Mountain from development and keep it open for public enjoyment and education; and Montgomery County’s innovative farmland preservation program, which has served as a model for agricultural areas throughout the country and the world.

Visit lushly landscaped historic farms and meet farmers who offer a view of the progressive methods they employ to bring fresh strawberries, peaches, apples, and a myriad of vegetables to local markets. Step into an artist’s studio, explore historic sites, and take a short walk along one of the shaded and inviting trails of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Lunch is at the Comus Inn, which offers a view of Sugarloaf Mountain. Enjoy wine, cheese, and fresh strawberries at a local farm at the end of the day.

Fringe stop at about 9:10am
This tour includes lunch and afternoon refreshments.

Learn more about Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve.

Most nature photographs by Melanie Choukas-Bradley and Polly Alexander.

©2018 Melanie Choukas-Bradley All rights reserved.
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