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Explore and Learn at the Howard County Conservancy

Howard County Conservancy.

Cascade Falls are a frequent stop on hikes from the Howard County Conservancy.


Both Baltimore and our own Ellicott City are located within wonderful Howard County. The Howard County Conservancy celebrates our historic county’s natural features and provides a number of programs that are both fun and educational. From meteor showers to nature walks, Flashlight Hikes and holiday celebrations, the Conservancy showcases the best of Howard County. (You can learn more of our favorite things to do in Howard County by downloading our free area vacation guide.)

About the Howard County Conservancy

In addition to education, a major mission of the Howard County Conservancy is to preserve the land and its legacy and lead the way in responsible environmental stewardship. One of the keys to the mission is Mt. Pleasant, a 300-year-old farm that serves as a nature reserve and educational center.

The Farm’s historic buildings include the farmhouse, a carriage house, blacksmith shop, bank barn, wagon shed, corn crib, smokehouse, and two hen houses. Mature hardwoods, historic gardens and trees, and an heirloom orchard surround the farmhouse and outbuildings.

In fact, the Conservancy houses Howard County’s first nature center, with programs focused on local animal and plant life found in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Mt. Pleasant’s sprawling grounds are a vivid snapshot of local Patapsco Valley flora and fauna. It is home to more than 140 species of birds and other wildlife. Plus, the historic gardens and heirloom orchard provide a glimpse into the regional past.

Things to Do at the Conservancy

Visitors can hike 4 miles of trails, browse the educational center or participate in a number of programs. Some upcoming events include…

October 30- Flashlight Night Hike: What Are Those Sounds?

This free program begins at 7pm. Participants are encouraged to bring your flashlights for this adventure hike. You’ll listen and search for nocturnal wildlife, learn about the nighttime noises, and maybe take a little bit of the spooky out of the things that go bump in the night!

November 19- Hike Belmont and Nearby Patapsco Trails

This hike begins at 10am, led by Gary Reinoehl, a seasoned mountaineer.  Trail stops include hiking tips, history of the area and a visit to Cascade Falls. The 3.5-mile-long hike will include some small stream crossings and hills.

November 20- Colonial Holiday Celebration

You’ll enjoy holidays at the Manor House in this holiday celebration. Tastings of fine wines and craft beers, local foods, and decorated manor house rooms will put you in the holiday spirit. Even more fun: since this is a colonial celebration, the event includes colonial reenactors, madrigals and live dulcimer and harp music.  Free with the purchase of each adult ticket is a colonial history program for children ages 5-12 in the nature center on the grounds of Belmont Manor. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 after November 13th. NOV 20- Sunday 3-6 pm.

December 13- Geminid Meteor Shower

Drs. Joel Goodman and Alex Storrs will guide your viewing of The Geminids, known as the king of the meteor showers. You can anticipate seeing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour.  But catch a catnap in the afternoon: the best viewing will be after midnight (the event goes from 10pm to 2am). The doctors will bring high power viewing telescopes to look at planets and the moon.  All you have to bring are reclining lawn chairs or blankets, water, and snacks.

December 17- Winter Solstice Hike

Beginning at 10 am, Master Naturalist Carole Veihmeyer will lead this moderately strenuous 5-mile hike to the Orange Grove area of the Patapsco Valley State Park. The return hike will lead you along the Ridge Trail.


We’d love to host your next Howard County adventure here at the historic Wayside Inn. Plan your trip around a Howard County Conservancy event, and use our free area vacation guide to fill in the gaps. We hope to see you soon!