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Hidden Pond Nature Center


Hidden Pond Nature Center

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


Audio Transcript

  • Hidden Pond Nature Center Welcome
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center in Spring
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center box Turtle
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center MWEE Land Use
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center Interior
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center Netting
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center Kids Korner
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center King Snake
  • Hidden Pond Nature Center Exterior

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.


For your safety and the safety of our environment, please stay on the trails.

For information on poison ivy: Poison Ivy: Avoiding It

For information on the ranavirus: Ranavirus, Amphibians, and How to Keep them Apart

For information on Invasive plant management: Invasive Management Area (IMA)

Park Map
Directions

Trail/Park Map

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

Our 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!

Choose a park animal from the list:


Stinky and Oreo - Black Rat Snakes Stinky and Oreo - Black Rat Snakes

Our names are Stinky and Oreo and we are black rat snakes. At almost 6 feet long, we’re the largest snakes in VA and the longest animals at Hidden Pond. As our name suggest we can eat rats but we also love mice, so we’re good snakes to have around and help control the spread of diseases. We’re also great climbers, and can eat birds and their eggs in the wild. We aren’t venomous so don’t worry! But don’t ask us for a hug either, because we’re constrictors and can squeeze really tight. We may look scary but we’re super friendly, so come in and say hi to us. We’ll be watching for you as you walk in the door!

Fluffy - Common Snapping Turtle Fluffy - Common Snapping Turtle

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.

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!

Terry - Diamondback Terrapin Terry - Diamondback Terrapin

My name is Terry and I am a Diamondback Terrapin. I’m the only animal at Hidden Pond that you won’t be able to find in the park; I like living near the ocean and in bays where there’s a mixture of salt and freshwater. I’m quite large, only Fluffy the snapping turtle is bigger than I am here! Some people call me Ghost because I have a white body with lots of black dots and streaks; people call me beautiful all the time. I may be cute but watch out for my jaws! I have a strong beak that I use to crush and eat some of my favorite meals, like clams and other mollusks. But my favorite food is definitely slugs! My toes and feet are webbed like a duck’s, which lets me swim fast in water, which I prefer over land. I’m also a great dancer…if you scratch the back of my shell I’ll start dancing! That’s because I actually have nerve endings in my shell so I can feel when things touch it. My shell is also great for defending me against predators, but I can’t pull my arms, legs and head all the way in. Good thing I’m quick in the water! Come watch me swim with my bluegill fish friends!

Eastern King Snake - Eastern King Snake

I’m a very popular animal at Hidden Pond, and everybody seems to have a different name for me. Some call me Princess, some call me Caitlyn, some call me King Arthur, who knows! All I know is that I’m a King Snake, and I get my name because I really am King of the Snakes around here. Can you guess what my favorite food is? That’s right! I love to eat other snakes in the wild, and I am so tough that I can even eat venomous Copperhead snakes! Luckily for the other snakes here, I have my own tank, and the staff keep me happy with lots of mice. I’m a pretty large snake too, between 4 and 5 feet long, with black and white stripes on me. Even though I’m not very friendly to snakes, I’m very nice to people, and they love to hold me. Sometimes I may tickle you with my tongue, but I’m not trying to lick you, just smell you. Just like the black rat snakes, I’m a constrictor, and squeeze my prey. But if I squeeze you don’t worry! I’m not trying to eat you, I probably just want to make sure I don’t fall when you hold me.

Wood FrogWood Frog

Unlike my friends the Green Frog and Bullfrog, you aren’t going to find me in the water. You’ll find me hopping around on the forest floor, but good luck spotting me! My body is brown with a black mask around my face, and I have great camouflage. I’ll eat small insects and other invertebrates by lunging forward and shooting my sticky tongue out. You may think I’m just your average animal, but I have one of the coolest tricks of any animal at Hidden Pond…I can FREEZE myself! That’s right, when it starts to get cold outside during winter, I’ll drop my body temperature so low that icicles will start forming on me, and I go into a deep sleep called hibernation. When I’m frozen I’m completely defenseless though, so I need to make sure I’m in a good hiding spot first. Luckily the nature center keeps me nice and warm year round, so I won’t need to freeze myself any time soon!

Juvenile Snapping Turtle Juvenile Snapping Turtle

I used to be a pet snapping turtle of a nice couple who brought me in to the Nature Center, and they named me “The Gooch”. The staff here loved the name and I kept it! I’m the same type of animal as Fluffy the Snapping Turtle, but I’m much smaller than him. That’s because I’m only between 1 and 3 years old, so I still have a lot of growing to do. In the meantime, I’m sharing my tank with a bunch of other water turtles who are around my size, so we all get along. I’m still little so I’m very shy, even out of the water; you’re much more likely to see me try to hide in my shell than snap at you, even if you pick me up. Fluffy can eat pretty much anything he wants, but I have to be pickier with my food. So for now I’m eating worms, shrimp, and other small invertebrates. You may have trouble spotting me in my tank, as I love to hide under rocks and I blend in with them. If you can find me, say hi!

Nursery Web Fishing Spider Nursery Web Fishing Spider

If you don’t like creepy crawlies, then maybe I am not the animal for you….I’m probably the biggest spider you’ll see around here! I resemble wolf spiders, but thankfully you aren’t going to see me as often as them. That’s because I don’t like making my way into people’s homes, as I prefer to live near water sources where I will occasionally eat fish and other small vertebrates like tadpoles. I’ll wait by the water’s edge for something to swim by and then grab it with my fangs! I’m not dangerous to people but I am mildly venomous, and can inflict a painful bite. Come in and look at me, but don’t touch!

Northern Water Snake Northern Water Snake

Like my name suggests, you’re most likely going to see me in and around the water, where I love to eat fish, frogs, and crayfish. That’s one reason why people often confuse me for the dangerous Cottonmouth snake, which has a similar pattern and lives in water, but does not live in northern Virginia. Even though I am not venomous, you still want to watch out for my bite, as my saliva actually causes things to bleed more than usual. In the wild I can be a fairly aggressive snake and have no problem biting people if I feel threatened, but I am getting used to people here at the nature center and have become a little nicer.

Eastern Garter Snake - Eastern Garter Snake

People get my name wrong all the time…I’m a Garter snake, not a Garden Snake! That being said, I can be found in gardens quite frequently, and I am a very commonly seen snake around here. I’ll eat bugs, slugs, and small vertebrates like lizards and fish. In the wild I can hibernate in big groups of over a thousand Garter Snakes…sometimes I will even share my den with venomous Copperheads! I’m very shy here at Hidden Pond and don’t really get to play with people too much, so I might be hiding under rocks or mulch when you try to look for me. If you can spot me, say hello!

American Bull FrogAmerican Bull Frog

If you’re searching for the biggest frog and the largest Amphibian in Fairfax County, look no further than me! I am truly enormous, with a body length of about 6 inches and a weight of about one pound. You can hear my calls pretty frequently during the summer here at the pond, and many people say it sounds like a lightsaber from Star Wars! I don’t have too many predators in the wild aside from large mammals and herons, and I am a ferocious eater. If it can fit in my mouth, I can eat it! Just like a snake, I don’t chew my food, but swallow it whole. Fish, bugs, tadpoles, snakes, crayfish, other fogs, mice, even small turtles and birds are all on the menu for me if I’m hungry enough.

Copperhead Copperhead

I may be a very pretty snake, but I am also the only truly dangerous animal at Hidden Pond and the only venomous snake we have in Fairfax County. Even though I can pose a threat to people, I’m often very misunderstood. I’m not aggressive at all and am actually very shy, and will usually try to slither away from people if threatened. My venom is also not as strong as most people think; as long as you go to the hospital you should be good as new within a few days. You can tell I am a venomous snake because of my triangular, arrow-shaped head, and my cat-like eyes. Here at the nature center I am kept in a locked tank, so don’t ask to take me out! I am a fascinating animal, but I am one to watch from a safe distance.

American ToadAmerican Toad

Don’t call me a frog! I am related to them but my skin is more dry and bumpy, and I am not great at jumping. You won’t see me in the water or in trees like many of our frogs at Hidden Pond, as I like to live on the forest floor. I have two main defenses against predators; my first is my camouflage, which I use to blend into dead leaf litter and the forest floor. My second is probably the most important, as I am actually poisonous! I have two bumps behind my eyes that I use to release poison when a predator picks me up or tries to eat me. It makes me tastes awful and can also make the predator very sick. I trust that you won’t try to eat me, but don’t get my poison on your fingers and then rub your eyes! It can really burn. Also, listen carefully for any sounds I might make…If I chirp, I’m a boy!

Eastern Box TurtlesEastern Box Turtles

We’re very popular animals here at Hidden Pond and there are many of us on display! We have a small tank with younger turtles, and the big turtles have a large terrarium by the front desk. The little guys are too small to hold but are super cute and fun to look at. However, don’t hesitate to ask to hold the bigger ones! You won’t see us in any of the water tanks, because unlike the other turtles at Hidden Pond, we don’t swim and prefer to live on land. We get our names because our shells resemble boxes and are dome shaped, and the fact that they can completely close; we actually have a hinge on the bottom part (plastron) of our shell that helps us close it tightly in the front to protect our head and front legs. Unlike our water turtle friends, we can pull our arms, legs and head completely inside our shell when we’re scared, so we aren’t an easy meal for most predators. We also have one more defense…in the wild we can actually be poisonous! That’s because we commonly eat toxic mushrooms that don’t hurt us, but try to eat us and you may become poisoned yourself. We don’t really eat mushrooms here at Hidden Pond though, but hopefully you wouldn’t try to eat us anyways!!

Eastern Painted TurtleEastern Painted Turtle

If you come to Hidden Pond during the summer, I guarantee you’ll see tons of my friends down at the pond, basking in the sun! I am one of the most common water turtles you will find in our park, and I get my name from the colorful pattern on my head, legs and the underside of my shell. I’ve also been around for a very long time; scientists say my species has existed for 15 million years!! During the warmer months you can find me eating algae, various aquatic plants, and small creatures such as crayfish and insects, but during the winter I hibernate under the mud at the bottom of the pond. You can tell whether I’m a boy or a girl by looking at the claws on my hands; if they’re long, then I’m a boy! I use this to impress the girl turtles.

Patent Leather BeetlesPatent Leather Beetles

I am one of the few arthropods we have here at the nature center; that means I have an exoskeleton where my bones are outside my body, and I have many legs and body segments. You can find me in the rotting log tank here along with millipedes and a few insects, but good luck spotting me! I don’t like to be out in the open and like to hide, even around visitors. I am a species that loves rotting logs, because they’re a great place to hide, and I can actually eat the wood using my strong jaws. This makes me a decomposer, as I eat dead stuff and recycle the nutrients back into the earth, so I am a very important animal. I can even make a squeaking sound with my wings if I get disturbed!


Nature News - Frogs Are Calling!

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.

Enjoy Campfire Evenings at Lake Accotink

Lake Accotink Dam

What better place for a campfire than on a lake?
Hidden Pond Naturalists lead adventures and campfires at Lake Accotink Park.

Register for Campfires at Lake Accotink

Meet the Naturalists

AJ Barnard

AJ BarnardAJ has been working here at Hidden Pond since 2012. He regularly visited the park growing up and was fascinated with the programs and animals on display, and knew he wanted to become more involved. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Sciences, he’s been working with the site more closely, and enjoys educating people about the animals he loves. He’s lived in Virginia all his life and is well versed on the native wildlife, and says there’s no other place he’d rather live. His favorite animal is Fluffy, the friendly snapping turtle. He is a total dinosaur nerd as well, so expect him to be leading any dinosaur programs and camps! You can also find him teaching our young Pohick Puddle Jumpers and turtle fishing down at the pond during summer, so don’t hesitate to stop by and say hello!

Becky Conway

Becky Conway A Naturalist at HPNC since June 2015, Becky loves working with the preschoolers and making crafts during Nature Quest. Her favorite program is the Wetlander’s Camp, especially the last day when they had a “Celebration of Water”, (read: field day), where the campers first learned about the importance of H2O in a wetland, their daily lives, and it’s significance throughout the world. The baby turtles captured Becky’s heart as soon as she walked in the nature center, and she wanted to work here specifically so she could hold them (see picture!). The great outdoors has called to her ever since childhood, whether exploring the neighborhood creek or climbing trees, nature brought a sense of freedom and excitement. She followed this passion at the University of Mary Washington, where she double majored in Environmental Science and Economics. Sign up for a program or stop by the center to say “HI!” to Becky!

Kyle Hughes-Segroves

Kyle Hughes-SegrovesKyle Hughes has worked at Hidden Pond as a staffer since 2008, and before that was a volunteer from 2002 to 2008. He has been coming to programs at Hidden Pond and other parks since he was four. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2014, he has only furthered his studies of the natural world and his work at Hidden Pond. He knows the park very well, and has great knowledge of the local flora and fauna along with the geological specimens. His favorite animal at Hidden Pond is our northern water snake, so you can be pretty sure you’ll see it at any animal presentations that he is giving. He leads all of the site’s programs on geology, Native American studies, and archery, so expect to see him in any camps or programs involving them!


Featured Park Animal

Barred Owl

Barred Owl (Strix varia)
If you come to our park after dark, you may just hear my calls….”Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?” That’s the tell-tale sign of Barred Owl nearby! I’m mostly nocturnal, so even though you may hear my calls during the day, you most likely won’t see me in action until night. I’m carnivorous and a predator, so I only hunt live animals, such as small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and even other birds. I have finely tuned senses, with excellent vision and hearing, that help me track down prey in my forest habitat even when it’s pitch black outside. My wings also make no noise when I fly, so when I hunt I’m completely silent…if you’re on my menu, you’ll never see or hear me coming.

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.

Directions

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
703-451-9588


Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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