Hit the Trail
Explore one of Piscataway's seven nature trails
Explore the Indigenous cultural landscape of Piscataway Park on over three miles of nature trails. These trails wind their way alongside the Potomac River, under the canopy of the park's woodlands, past rolling pastures, and over wetlands and marshes.
Choose your trail...
Pumpkin Ash Trail
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 miles one-way
Markers: Yellow blazing
The Blackberry Trail connects with the Pumpkin Ash Trail 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 miles 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 miles one-way
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 miles one-way
Markers: Orange blazing
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 miles one-way
Markers: Light blue blazing
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 miles one-way
Difficulty: Moderate, short, steep climbs
Markers: White blazing
Accokeek Connector Trail
The Accokeek Connector Trail begins at the Ecosystem Farm and connects the 200 acres of Piscataway Park managed by the Accokeek Foundation to the Accokeek Creek access point and boardwalk. This trail is a segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, which celebrates the heritage of the Potomac and upper Ohio river basins. An enterprise of many partners, the evolving Trail network offers opportunities for hiking, bicycling, boating, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.
Distance: 0.31 miles one-way
Markers: Bright blue blazing