By Angela Hazuda Meyers

This adventurous excursion is a great day trip getaway. This rugged area, located in Maryland, just north of DC, is situation alongside the Potomac River. There are three large fields of sunflowers, which are the main attraction. This destination is a great location that will allow you to reconnect with nature and should be on your shortlist of locations to visit. The sunflower fields are rugged, but dense, they are each over an acre However also within the area is a great waterfront walk, a marshland with wildflowers and a number of other planted fields with flowers and other interesting crops. The crops are gorgeous, but they are planted for the benefit of wildlife, so please respect the crops. Do not cut or damage the flowers while visiting.

In 2019, the sunflowers were planted on May 1, and with favorable conditions, the sunflowers will bloom in mid-July. Please consult the website here for regular updates and to plan your visit: https://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/publiclands/central/sunflowers.aspx

The sunflower wildlife area is worth the trip, but be prepared, it is in a fairly rural and remote location. There are no facilities available at this location. The road leading into the area is a dirt road and below is a list of additional details about the area.

• Parking is only allowed in designated parking areas. Do not block gates. 

• Driving is only allowed on main roads (River Road, Hunting Quarter Road, and Sycamore Landing Road). 

• Leashed dogs are welcomed.

• The area is trash-free. No trash cans are provided. Please take all trash with you. 

• McKee-Beshers WMA has no bathroom facilities, no water, benches or picnic tables. 

• The area is home to ticks, mosquitoes and poison ivy. Long pants and shoes are recommended. Check yourselves and pets upon leaving.

Where to Hike: You can create your own plan but a great trek through the area is outlined below. Use this map to navigate through the area. Parking near Field 2 and heading south toward the C & O Towpath. The trail looks as though it end before the towpath, but there is easy access to the towpath at the end of the trail. When you reach the trail, turn right and enjoy a great 1+ mile long trek along the river. You may get lucky and encounter a port-a-potty along a camp site along the towpath. Continue the whole way along to Sycamore Landing Road. When you reach Sycamore Landing Road, turn right and head north to Field #3, then turn right again on river road ad head East for a shirt bit, then turn right again and head South to cut through the marshlands. The marshlands are a wonderfully unique terrain, and deserve a slow meander through their many trails. Then head back north and cut across east back towards Field 2. Once you reach the N/S trail turn L to head N back to the main road and parking area.  The total trail is just over 3 miles long. It’s a lovely walk and you will enjoy the lovely fields. They mimic the rural Kansas or French fields of sunflowers. 

TRAIL SPECIFICS:

Distance: 3.4 miles.

Fido Friendly Features: Shaded, streamside,dirt/gravel, stream access.

Best time to go: Daytime, weekdays. Weekends tend to be very crowded.

Access: Parking available in parking areas. All dirt road access 

Directions: From the Capital Beltway, take Exit 39 (River Road) west toward Potomac. Proceed for approximately 11 miles to the intersection of River Road and MD 112, Seneca Road. Turn left and continue on River Road for about 2 1/2 miles. McKee-Beshers will be on your left as you head west on River Road.