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Hidden Pond Nature Center

Hidden Pond Nature Center

[ 8511 Greeley Blvd. ] [ Springfield, VA 22152 ] [ 703-451-9588 ]

Audio Transcript

Acres of undisturbed woodland, quiet trails, splashing streams and a tranquil pond are just a few of the reasons to visit Hidden Pond Nature Center. Tucked away in Springfield, Hidden Pond is a neighborhood haven filled with wondrous things. Hidden Pond, at 25 acres, lies adjacent to the much larger Pohick Stream Valley Park which boasts over 700 acres. A new 2000-foot trail and bridge has connected the two parks, so that many more neighbors and guests can visit the Hidden Pond Nature Center as well as the pond, streams, wetlands, woods and other quiet places that these preserves have to offer.

The nature center, which is accessible to everyone, features exhibits and live displays which orient you to the park and the natural world of Fairfax County. Read More >>

In addition, the center has a small sales area featuring books and other items for the nature enthusiast and nature study areas for group visitors. Complementing the nature center are stream side and woodland walking trails, a self-guided nature trail and a one-acre pond. The park also features lighted tennis courts and a children's play area.

The nature center staff offers programs for school, youth and scout groups, community organizations and the general public. Activities include guided walks, field trips, workshops, demonstrations and special request programs by reservation on a variety of topics.

Park Map

Trail/Park Map

Normal Hours
Normal Hours
Winter Hours*
Winter Hours*
9-5, closed Tuesdays 12-5 11-4, closed Tuesdays 11-4
*Winter Hours = December, January, February          >>> HOLIDAY HOURS
Meet the Residents

Resident FluffyOur resident animals would like to take the opportunity to introduce themselves to you. They love to have visitors, so please come by and see them in person!

My name is Fluffy and I am a common snapping turtle - you can find more turtles like me here at the pond. I am a relative of the alligator snapping turtles that live south of Virginia. I got my name because when I shed my skin it hangs off of me in little pieces and makes me look fluffy. I am 8 years old and had been someone’s pet when I was little, but they didn’t realize I would get so big! Now my home is at Hidden Pond where I make appearances at programs about turtles. Read More >>

My shell is about a foot across, but I’m not as big as the females in my species which get twice my size! I am also lighter colored than other snapping turtles because my shell and skin have not been stained by the dark mud of the pond. I love to eat EVERYTHING! There is little that I won’t eat but I prefer worms, slugs, bugs and fish.

When I’m not doing programs or swimming in my aquarium, I like to sit by the windows and soak up the sun. In the spring and summer I like to go for walks outside. Unlike other snapping turtles, I don’t snap (except for food) and love to meet people during programs where they get a chance to touch and see what I feel like. Remember, we’re called snapping turtles for a reason and the rest of my species is usually very grumpy and snap to defend themselves if bothered. Petting me is likely one of the only times you will be able to safely touch a snapping turtle, so come and visit me - I am a one unusual creature!

Nature News - Why the Leaves Leave Us

Fall leaves; a delightful sight, but I can’t help but feel a bit abandoned as the forests transform from expansive canopies of green to scarce skeletons of braches. So I ask the question: Why do the leaves leave us in the fall?

The answer, you may think, is simple. “You see, the leaves obviously leave because it is cold,” but that’s not the case. Now the task is a bit trickier. “Well… Um, maybe they do it because there’s less water in the fall?” Wrong again, fall isn’t an especially dry season so this wouldn’t affect the trees. Finally, you’re stumped. “They probably do it so the other trees will stop laughing at them for being different and just leaf them alone.” Sadly, while that’s an excellent pun (the opportunitrees for tree puns are absorootly endless), it’s still not the right answer. So what is? Read More >>

Trees are a lot more scientific than you might think. As a month, a week, and even a few days go by, our days are either getting shorter or longer depending on what time of year it is, and where you are in the world. For all of us, the longest day of the year is the summer solstice, which in 2014, was the 21st of June. After the summer solstice, the days get shorter and shorter until we hit the winter solstice, which will fall on December 21st this year. After that occurs, the days get longer again, and the whole cycle will repeat itself forever, but the interesting thing is how much of life depends on this pendulum of day lengths. Trees happen to be one such group of organisms that are reliant on day length to regulate their lives.

When the days become too short, the trees recognize this, and essentially cut off the leaves from the rest of the tree. This will result in the leaves dying and falling to the ground, but that still leaves the question of the colors. Not to worry, the trees have that figured out too. Over the course of the growing season, trees are continuously producing chlorophyll (the green pigment of leaves) because it is broken down naturally by sunlight, but when the tree cuts the resources going to the leaf, this production stops. This gives the other pigments their time to shine.

Orange and yellow pigments are present in the leaf all year, so when the chlorophyll is no longer present, they become visible. Many local trees such as hickories, ash, tulip pop-lars, and sycamores showcase these vibrant selections of the spectrum, but some trees go one step further. The red and purple colors we commonly see in the fall aren’t the product of pigments found in the leaves during the growing season, but rather are produced and displayed as this grand leaf affair is occurring. Although it may seem a bit illogical to be working to produce new things while trying to settle down for winter, some scientists believe it is to show that they are in good health. By being able to produce new pigments while maintaining enough stored energy to last the winter, these trees could be telling insects that they aren’t vulnerable to attacks, so they should be left alone. Some trees in our area that produce these pigments are the dogwood tree (our state tree) and persimmons.

As complicated as these leaves might be and as hard as it is to watch the summer fall away with the leaves, we know they’ll be back when spring comes, and hey, they sure are beautiful to look at.

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Hidden Pond in Winter

  • Hidden Pond Nature Center
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center
  1. Our friendly naturalist staff will warm you up with their smiles and knowledge.
  2. Since leaves are off the trees, you will have a greater chance of seeing wildlife.
  3. Bird watching –winter is a fantastic time to see our resident barred owls, ruby crowned kinglets, brown creepers, several species of woodpeckers and many other feathered surprises.
  4. Search for tracks of wild creatures at the creeks edge and see if you can identify them using a tracking guide from the center.
  5. Meet some of our exhibit creatures like our friendly snapping turtle and cuddly black rat snakes up close and personal since the crowds are smaller in the colder months.
  6. Come out for the Salamander Crawl, when our resident salamanders come out in droves to meet and lay eggs! Click to Register with Parktakes Online
  7. Sit down and look out our large viewing window and see nature unfold before you.
  8. Get healthy by walking our trails and being at one with the serenity of the great outdoors.
  9. Come to one of our winter campfires for s’mores and more! Click to Register with Parktakes Online
  10. Try your hand at finding some of the park’s more unusual evergreen plants such as polypody fern, liverworts and the native ground cover partridge berry-please don’t pick-we need these native plants to stick around.

Pohick Signature Series

Pohick Rangers: Instilling a Lifelong Love of Nature for 24 Years!
As told by Site Manager, Mike McCaffrey

The longest running program at Hidden Pond, the Pohick Rangers was started as a kind of nature club, patterned after such a club that I had been in at my elementary school in Maryland, when I was growing up. Remembering how much fun it had been was just one of several reasons we wanted to do something like that at Hidden Pond. The other reasons were to show off the great natural areas of our park and help young people have a fun, in-the-field learning experience. Read More >>

The topics covered in the program include wetland studies, forestry, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods, nocturnal wildlife, geology and the site’s cultural history to name a few. The hands-on netting experience down at the creek, along with fishing and bug hunting are very popular parts of this program. However, just being able to get out and explore the woodlands by climbing over logs, rocks and traversing a stream seems to be often what motivates the sense of discovery with program participants.

Sometimes program participants have done habitat restoration activities like building a vernal pool in 1998 and in 2012 - both now are amphibian breeding areas in the park. Over the years, in various sessions, well over several hundred tree seedlings have been planted in areas where invasive plant species were taken out by young people.

Since its inception in 1991, the program has helped to ready young people who would become our volunteers, and later, in some instances become staff. Currently, at Hidden Pond 3 former “rangers” are on staff. Around the county, state and nation, former Pohick Rangers are: teachers, aerospace engineers, business persons, journalists, graphic designers, doctors, college professors, serving in armed forces, scientists and many other professions. We see a wide- array of personalities in the program, but this is what makes it fun for the staff and for the group.

No matter what these young people end up doing in their adult lives, they take away a greater appreciation of what our natural world is all about and what it offers to us. They have a new compassion and respect for all living things that they will share with others. I know that this is so, for I still am friends with three of the original Pohick Rangers from 1991, and their love for nature now is still strong as it was 24 years ago.

Is your child interested in becoming a Pohick Ranger? Register with Parktakes Online. Click to Register with Parktakes Online

Enjoy Campfire Saturdays at Lake Accotink and Royal Lake Parks

Lake Accotink Dam

What better place for a campfire than on a lake?
Hidden Pond Naturalists lead adventures and campfires at your lakefront parks.
Saturday evenings from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Register for Campfires at Lake Accotink

Register for Campfires at Royal Lake

School and Scout Groups

Group visits are available by appointment. Visit:
School Programs
Scout Programs

turtle Birthday Parties

Chose a Nature or Campfire Party for a child's special day!

Parktakes Online!
To register online all you need is your member number (or barcode number), a valid email address and a Visa or MasterCard. Not a member yet? Sign up today! or call 703-222-4664.


NOTE: There are TWO Greeley Boulevards in the area. You must turn onto Greeley Blvd. where it intersects with Old Keene Mill Road approximately 1/4 mile west of Rolling Road.

Facility Address and Phone Number:
8511 Greeley Blvd.
Springfield, VA 22152

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Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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