We started out at the Nature Center which is run by the National Park Service. This is a good place to grab a map, plan you trip, and look at the wonderful exhibits identifying the flora and fauna to be found within the parks borders. It was very nicely done.
We settled on a 9 mile hike that would see us start on the Western Ridge Trail - heading to the southern end of the park to the National Zoo. It was a nice wide path that eventually worked its way to Rock Creek following along the water.
|Western Ridge Trail as it meets Rock Creek|
As we continued along the water, we came across Peirce Mill (yes, "e" before "i"), built in the 1820's and in operation until 1897. The mill still runs from time to time for demonstrative purposes. It is a nice picnic area, and a nice area to park if you wish to walk from here to the National Zoo. Peirce Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places.
|Rock Creek entrance to the National Zoo|
As we made our loop through the park, we heard a tiger making a racket, so we detoured over to see Damai, a female Sumatran tiger and her two cubs, Sukacita and Bandar, playing and goofing off. Sumatran tigers are on the critically endangered list, with only 400-500 in existence.
|Damai, Sukacita, and Bandar|
|One of the cubs - born August 5th, 2013|
As we continued our loop, we stopped in to see the new baby Panda, Bao Bao, but little baby was sleeping. We have been fortunate to see the Panda's on many previous occasions.
Since we brought Western Ridge down to the zoo, we planned to take Valley Trail back. Western Ridge was a horse trail, so it was wider with less switchbacks, etc.. Valley trail was a foot trail, longer, and a bit more remote; though we enjoyed the change.
Until next time...
See you on the trails!