HIKES IN THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON METRO AREA
METROPOLITAN NATURALIST
COSTA REGIONAL PARK

Costa Regional Park is close to 700 acres, but a large portion of it is developed with athletic fields, a
nature center, and playground. There is a small lake with paddleboat rentals. The nature center has
several live animal displays as well as informational exhibits. Snakes and turtles as well as injured
owls and hawks are in cages inside and outside the nature center. There were screech owls, a barn
owl, a red tailed hawk, a barred owl, and a bald eagle on display when I visited. All the birds of prey
appeared to have injuries that I expect prevented their release. There is also a butterfly garden
where plants are grown to attract a variety of butterflies.

The trails at Costa Regional Park are not for those looking for a rugged wilderness experience, but
there are a fair number of interesting plants and wildlife here to see on a leisurely hike on the
well-marked trails or on a stroll around the lake. A variety of birds as well as skinks, snakes, turtles,
beaver, and other animals can be found here.

I suggest stopping at the nature center first to take a look at the exhibits and pick up a map of the
trails. Take a look at the critters in the little zoo. Not all these animals are found in the park, but most
of the animals on display when I visited are native to Maryland and Virginia. Check out the
informational trail outside the nature center to learn about some plants and animals you might see
before heading out to walk the trails.

Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a 6 foot leash at all times.
Site Search
A screech owl sleeps the day away in the nature center.
Stuffed specimens of some of the animals found in the park are on display in the
Nature Center.
Inside the nature center there is a pond with some turtles and cages with some turtles,
amphibians, and snakes, including the venomous copperhead.
Along the informational trail there are signs to introduce visitors to some of the plants and animals
that live here. This sign outside the Butterfly Garden tells visitors about some of the butterflies and
moths they might see.
Cages outside the nature center house injured hawks and owls.
A Red-Shouldered Hawk with an injured wing in a cage outside the nature center.
A Barn Owl in a cage outside the nature center.
As you walk around the park, keep an eye out for signs of wildlife. Although you may not see a beaver during your
walk, the tooth marks on this stick (above) are a sure sign that beaver are here. You might also see a beaver
"lodge" such as the one in the picture below along the bank of the pond.
This Five Lined Skink was on he trail near the pond. He lost his tail, possibly to a predator or to a
human who may have tried to catch him. The tail will grow back.
This (non-venomous) Northern Water Snake eyed us warily from the safety of the pond as we walked by.
Duckweed grows on the pond, providing food and shelter for a variety of invertebrates, fish, and
waterfowl.
A variety of ferns grow along the trails.