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  • Writer's pictureAccokeek Foundation

Adopt-a-Trail Program

pumpkin ash trail

In partnership with the National Park Service, the Accokeek Foundation maintains six nature trails in Piscataway Park. The Adopt-A-Trail program seeks to engage organizations and community members interested in helping maintain these trails to keep them safe and well-groomed for the park’s 20,000 visitors each year. Adopters will schedule and perform regular trails sweeps throughout the designated length of adoption, and will be responsible for reporting trail conditions to the foundation’s Site Manager.

Responsibilities may include:

  1. Clearing overgrown brush,

  2. Removing fallen tree limbs,

  3. Removing trash on and around the trail,

  4. Reporting issues,

  5. Helping out with infrastructure projects, such as maintaining bridges, boardwalks, and trail signs, and re-establishing footpaths.

Qualifications: No previous experience is necessary, but volunteers will be required to receive pre-service training before beginning trail maintenance duties.

Time Requirements: Trail Adopters will be required to perform trail maintenance once a month during the height of the season, and every six weeks at the end of the season. Scheduling is flexible.

This is a great opportunity for businesses, communities, boy and girl scout troops, classrooms, clubs, groups of friends, or families to give back to their community by helping us protect a great local resource and outdoor classroom.

trail maintenance

How to Adopt

Your organization/group must fill out the Adopt-A-Trail Application and submit it to Casey Lowe at All volunteers must receive orientation and training before beginning their trail maintenance. After successfully completing this training, adopters can begin work on their trail.

Don’t have an organization? – No worries! Individuals, families and estates can all adopt trails, also.

If your organization is lacking in “manpower,” but still has a desire to help, in-kind or monetary donations are also welcome in order to help maintain the trails. Remember – every little bit helps. It is only through your efforts that The Foundation’s trails will remain accessible and in pristine condition for all who come to enjoy them.

Trails Available for Adoption:

The Pumpkin Ash Trail follows the Potomac River from near the Visitor Center to the Ecosystem Farm, passing through a forest and a tidal wetland and providing excellent views of Mount Vernon. The level of water present in the wetland changes with the tide. During high tide, fish and amphibians are abundant. During low tide, the tracks of animals like opossums or raccoons can often be seen in the mud. The trail is named for the pumpkin ash tree, which grows here in one of the northern-most groves known to exist in the United States. Named for the pumpkin-shaped base that it forms when growing on a site that remains wet for much of the year, the pumpkin ash produces “winged” fruit similar to the “helicopters” often spun on school playgrounds. The Pumpkin Ash Trail connects with the Blackberry Trail.

Distance: 0.25 mile one-way Difficulty: Easy Markers: Yellow blazing

The Blackberry Trail connects with the Pumpkin Ash Trail near the Ecosystem Farm and ends in a small hayfield near visitor parking, meandering through a floodplain forest. The water that gathers in this area feeds into a tidal wetland before emptying into the Potomac River. This environment provides excellent habitat for moisture-loving animals and plants—such as jack-in-the-pulpit, pokeweed, and pawpaw trees—as well as white-tailed deer, whose tracks are often visible on the trail. Boots are recommended, since portions of the trail are often muddy.

Distance: 0.5 mile one-way Difficulty: Easy, seasonally muddy Markers: Purple blazing

The Riverview Trail follows the Potomac River from near the Visitor Center, providing some views of Mount Vernon along the way. It leads through a strip of land known as a riparian forest buffer, which reduces soil erosion, nutrient runoff, and other effects that agriculture and other inland land uses can have on waterways. Planted with more than 50 varieties of trees and shrubs native to Maryland, this buffer completes a two-mile stretch of continuous riparian forest. The Riverview Trail passes the Museum Garden and connects with the Persimmon and Bluebird trails.

Distance: 0.6 mile one-way Difficulty: Easy Markers: Dark blue blazing

The Persimmon Trail begins in the barnyard and circles the Conservation Pond. This pond collects runoff from our agricultural fields and controls the flow of sediment into the Potomac River. The pond also serves as valuable habitat for fish, frogs, turtles, ducks, geese, beavers, and other wildlife. Waterfowl often nest on the small island in the pond, and a number of Canada geese have adopted the pond as their year-round home. The trail is named for the persimmon trees that grow along the pond’s north edge. The Persimmon Trail connects with the Riverview Trail.

Distance: 0.4 mile loop Difficulty: Easy Markers: Orange blazing

A female eastern bluebird guards her nest. Credit Bonnie Simpers.

A female eastern bluebird guards her nest. Credit Bonnie Simpers.

The Bluebird Trail runs along the edge of the Native Tree Arboretum and around scattered chestnut groves down to the Potomac River. It crosses through current and former agricultural fields, some that are still in use for grazing and some that have grown into small stands of trees. A handful of nest boxes are visible along the trail, erected to provide nesting sites for Eastern bluebirds and monitored by a group of volunteers. These native cavity nesters are present in the park year-round. The Bluebird Trail connects to the Pawpaw and Riverview trails.

Distance: 0.9 mile one-way Difficulty: Easy Markers: Light blue blazing

The Pawpaw Trail travels through an old-growth forest, offering a glimpse of what this land was like before European settlers arrived.

The Pawpaw Trail travels through an old-growth forest, offering a glimpse of what this land was like before European settlers arrived.

The Pawpaw Trail begins at the Native Tree Arboretum and leads up the hillside through a mature forest. This forested area offers a glimpse of what the land was like before European settlers arrived. The hillside provides excellent wintertime views of Mount Vernon across the Potomac River. The trail is named for the pawpaw tree, which grows in abundance in the park and produces green oblong fruits that have given Accokeek its name. “Accokeek” is often translated to mean “place of the wild fruit,” referring to the pawpaw. You may discover pawpaws along this trail, although the tree typically prefers low, wet woods. The Pawpaw Trail ends in a grove of American chestnut trees, where it connects with the Bluebird Trail.

Distance: 0.5 mile one-way Difficulty: Moderate, short steep climbs Markers: White blazing

To Adopt-a-Trail now, or if you have any questions, please contact Casey Lowe at or call 301-283-2113.

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