3 Great Reasons to Visit Wolf Trap That Have Nothing to Do with Music

Unless it's the music of the birds.
All photos courtesy of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

Before it was home to Lionel Richie and the National Symphony Orchestra, the land we now know as Wolf Trap was a working farm owned by a public servant named Catherine Filene Shouse. In 1966, she turned her 100 acres over to the US government, which designated the grounds as a National Park. Today, it’s the only National Park devoted to the performing arts, with more than 60 acres of blissful nature that’s free to explore. Here’s a look at what Wolf Trap has to offer, besides killer concerts.

Two Great Hikes

Pack a picnic and hit the Wolf Trap Track Trail, a 1.5 mile, family-friendly trail that loops around the park and across babbling Wolf Trap Run (which leads to the Potomac). The trailhead is the meadow, but you can enter at any point on the map; just follow the orange blazes. For those seeking more challenging terrain, take in the flora and fauna from the Wolf Trap Trail, a 2.5 mile hike hugging the perimeter of the main park area. Follow the blue blazes for the main trail, or use green blazed paths for shortcuts to bathrooms and water fountains on this map. Unlike the concerts at Wolf Trap, both trails are dog-friendly.

Hidden gem: Tucked off Track Trail is a serene pond where Shouse used to water her livestock and is now home to fish and turtles.

Gardens

You can take a tour of Wolf Trap’s gardens with a park ranger, or feel free to wander on your own. The Native Meadow Demonstration Area has over 21,100 different flowers and grasses, while the vegetable garden grows zucchini, eggplant, and other produce that’s used at Wolf Trap’s restaurants or donated to local food banks. The gardens support biodiversity and are home to 45 butterfly and 95 bee species. And speaking of bees…

Beekeeping

In 2011, after visiting the White House and discovering its beekeeping program, Wolf Trap executive chef Chris Faessen got inspired to bring something buzzy to the park. One million bees later, Wolf Trap’s sustainable beekeeping program has produced more than 200 pounds of honey from 14 hives. Find the honey in the park’s gift shops or try it on a fig and blue cheese flatbread at the Barns, one of the park’s dining options that features rustic, farm-to-table fare (aka, healthier than your standard concession stand chicken tenders and fries).

 

Of course, going to concerts is always a good idea, and in fact, a recent study shows that those who attended musical events reported higher levels of wellbeing than those who didn’t. Whatever your reason for visiting, escape the daily hustle and head to Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna.


Kim Olsen
Associate Editor

Kim Olsen joined Washingtonian in 2016 after moving to DC from Pittsburgh, where she earned an MFA in nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Alexandria.