Rock Creek Park
Our neighborhood's back yard, Rock Creek Park, is the third oldest park in the National Park system. Crestwood has several entries into the park's 15 miles of trails. Get a free map from the Park Service, or simply explore! You can walk north-south pathways from Maryland to the Mall…or east-west pathways that cross streams to Connecticut Avenue and beyond.
Regular nature walks are conducted from the Rock Creek Nature Center on Glover Road and at other park locations. The Center also includes an exhibit hall and a planetarium. Nearby is the Rock Creek Horse Center, offering riding instruction and horses to rent. Above Military Road is the 18 hole Rock Creek Golf Course. The Park also includes about 70 picnic groves.
Learn about the mills that used to dot the countryside along Rock Creek by visiting the last surviving one, historic Peirce Mill at Beach Drive and Tilden Street. As recently as 1993, the Mill was making flour. You can help in its restoration through the Friends of Peirce Mill www.peircemill-friends.org.
On weekends and holidays, Beach Drive is closed to motor traffic from Broad Branch Road to the Park Police substation just south of Military Road. Bikers, hikers and roller bladers all take advantage of the wide, smooth surface to enjoy the natural surroundings.
During the week, Beach Drive and Rock Creek Parkway become heavily used commuter routes. Traffic can be slow, since the road was not meant to be a superhighway. During rush hours, Rock Creek Parkway is one way inbound in the morning (6:45-9:45 am) and outbound in the afternoon (3:45-6:30 pm). Also during rush hours, no left turn is allowed from Tilden Street onto Beach Drive—limiting your route home from the other side of the park. In general, park roads can be very handy ways to avoid city traffic—but the entrances and exits are not always well marked.
Pets are allowed in the park only on a leash. No natural features—including plants, trees, firewood, shrubs, birds, animals or even rocks—are to be collected or removed from parkland. Dumping of all kinds, including leaves and grass clippings, is not allowed. Bikes and motor vehicles are not permitted on unpaved trails. Fires are allowed only in the designated grates at marked picnic areas.
The Park also brings us face to face with wildlife, including white tailed deer, foxes, coyotes and raccoons. The deer tend to roam freely through the neighborhood -- frustrating gardeners, creating traffic hazards and spreading Lyme Disease. Rabies is still found in occasional animals living on parkland. Non native vegetation continues to be a big problem, as such species as English ivy and porcelainberry crowd out local plants and invade our yards.
The Friends of Rock Creek's Environment is a local non-profit group that works to promote a healthy and sustainable Rock Creek Watershed through conservation, education and restoration. Established in 2005, FORCE is open to all citizens and workers in the Rock Creek watershed of Montgomery County and the District of Columbia. Log on to www.friendsofrockcreek.org or contact Steve Saari at 301-984-1908x103.
If you live on a street that borders the Park, you may find it complicated to make some home improvements. The US Commission of Fine Arts (504-2200), whose members are appointed by the President of the United States, not only rules on proposed changes around our national monuments …the panel may also have jurisdiction over the paint color on your shutters. The DC government won't issue construction permits to affected homeowners until the Commission approves the plans at one of its monthly meetings. This additional approval process may slow your work.