Written by Jody Trammel

Brookside Nature Center

Brookside Nature CenterFor the past 53 years, Brookside Nature Center has attracted locals and visitors from all over the country. It is located in a sprawling 536-acre property at the Wheaton Regional Park. The nature facility showcases beautiful ecosystems such as woodlands, streams and meadows. The nature center building features live animals consisting of amphibians, fish and reptiles. It also has a Children’s Discovery Room, observational bee hive, wooded nature playground, native plant gardens,

interpretive boardwalks, an 1870 cabin, and lengthy hiking trails.

If you are visiting Maryland, be sure to include Brookside Nature Center in your itinerary. Call Affinity Airport Sedan for a ride. Allow our professional car service drive you around so you can just enjoy your visit.

About the Nature Center

The 1870 lodge was the Harper Family Cabin in Jonesville. It was owned by the Harpers until 1935 when the family decided to sell it to Harry Willard who rented it to tenants. His descendants donated the cabin to the Montgomery County Department of Parks in 1976. The cabin was deconstructed and rebuilt at the Brookside Nature Center in conjunction with the US Bicentennial celebration. The dilapidated fixtures like the chimney, floors and windows were replaced.

The original cabin was white-washed inside and outside. At the back of the cabin were a hen coop, smokehouse, hog pen, vegetable garden, and small orchard with apple, peach, plum, and crabapple trees. Of course, the chalet had no electricity or indoor plumbing. There were only two rooms, one upstairs and the other was downstairs. Water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and taking a bath had to be fetched from a spring about 200 feet away. And light came from kerosene lamps or candles.

The smokehouse was an essential part of a homestead. Meat was preserved through smoking or salting. It was suspended from the roof beams and a fire was built inside the windowless smokehouse. This 1850 smokehouse was from Derwood and rebuilt at Brookside Nature Center in 1975.

Nature Exploration Area

Visitors can crawl through tree trunks and see the giant bird’s nest. Local volunteers, staff members and Eagle Scouts transformed a small space of forest that was swamped with plants into a spot for outdoor fun and learning. The Forest Habitat Interpretive Walk teaches guests about the ephemeral forest habitat and interpretive signs are placed along the ramp describing the features of this vital ecosystem. There are also three ponds around Brookside Nature Center The biggest is near the parking lot and has an wheelchair accessible boardwalk. Between the parking area and entrance is the waterfall and small pond. The wildlife pond is further up the hill.