Our Outdoor Amenities
Washington Grove is an “outdoors” place, with activities and events taking place year round in our woods, parks, and recreational facilities. Our outdoor amenities include:
- a dog park,
- tennis courts,
- a children’s playground,
- a swimming lake with a beach, dock and diving board,
- a sports field, and
- a basketball court.
In Summer, Grovers congregate at Maple Lake to picnic or relax under the stately trees, play on the beach, dive from the dock, or fish from the Island. Every snowy day in winter, residents will see cross country skiers gliding past their houses on the trails.
- Clapperton Tennis Courts
- The Dog Spot
- Town forests: West Woods | East Woods
- Walking paths
- Washington Grove Conservation Meadow Park
- Woodward Park, including the Disc Golf Course
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In 2007, the town nursery, located in southeast Woodward Park, was redefined as an arboretum. Notable species in this parkland include woodland natives like the fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), as well as varieties of oaks, hollies, maples, and dogwoods.
Councilman Bill Uhlendorf and his wife Carol started the town nursery in 1964. George Pughe, the mayor, gave them strong support. It was a period of “beautification” nationwide as noted by Lady Bird Johnson.
The town budget for the initial planting was $80. Azaleas, rhododendron, crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), and dogwood were purchased from Stadlers and shared between the nursery and the circle. The Multiflora rose was planted in the nursery prior to transfer to the lake where it would stand as a security barrier. The Uhlendorfs, Carl Franck, and Charles Horan did the first planting in front of 127 Maple Ave.
By 1979, much of the early stock had been moved. To celebrate Arbor Day, Forestry Chair Meredith Horan arranged for the purchase ($200) and planting of new wholesale stock from Orndorf’s Farm Nursery, Clarksville. Mr. Orndorf, once a partner/grower for Burton, was liquidating. After retiring from the business, Mr. Orndorf became a popular radio personality for gardeners. During this period our nursery consultant was George Harding at Copper Beech Nursery (across from Asbury near Girard Street). Mr. Harding had recently retired as Director of Maintenance, National Capital Parks. His advice about bringing in stock from our own woods (keep it native) was heeded — thus the introduction of the fringe tree.
Flowering cherries from the nursery were moved to the back of the Woman’s Club. A white fir was moved near the gazebo. In the old nursery, the double star magnolias (Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’) and several Chinese dogwood (Cornus kousa) remain from the original Orndorf purchases. Many of the American holly (Ilex opaca) Frances Kern, named for Mr. Orndorf’s wife, are found in the nursery and in Zoe Wadsworth Park. The holly is known for its abundant fruiting.
Current maintenance includes mowing between the rows and constant undergrowth clearing. The process of transforming the nursery into an arboretum continues. Pedestrians (walking dogs or exercising) are on the increase in the vicinity.
Clapperton Tennis Courts
Tennis in the Grove dates back to the late 1800’s with the current courts being built around 1903. During the early 1900’s there were also numerous private grass courts. Most of these courts around town were retired during the Depression and World War II. Over the years, the courts in the Grove have been host to many local and county tournaments and played a significant role in Grove athletics.
Today, Washington Grove offers two historical natural clay courts with a modern line taping system in addition to one hard surface court.
During the summer, instructional tennis is offered to adult and junior players of all levels. In addition, there are weekly “drop-in” doubles play and frequent tennis mixers. Watch the bulletin for upcoming tennis dates or contact Linda Baim at: 301-926-8767, cell 240-997-1701, or [email protected].
In 2022, the Town added lines on the hard surface court so that it can also be used to play pickleball. Want to learn more about pickleball? Here’s everything you need to know about it, from CNN.
The Dog Spot
The Dog Spot is a shady, fenced play area for the pups of Grove residents. It is located in the West Woods Forest Reserve, just off the parking area for Maple Lake. Dogs must be registered with the Dog Park Committee in order to use the area.
Registration to Use the Dog Spot
In order to register your dog, your dog must first receive a Montgomery County pet license. Contact the Montgomery County Animal Services & Adoption Center to receive a license within a week or two.
Once you have the County license, please print the Dog Park Registration/Application Form (PDF), complete and sign it, and deliver it to Mary Warfield by hand or by snail mail. Once processed, you will receive a dog tag as acknowledgment that your dog is registered to use the Grove dog park.
Washington Grove has two forests, each very different from the other and each comprising more or less 50 acres. The woods, both East and West, are open to all. Fires, of course, are out of the question. Please do not bring motorcycles, cars or trucks into the woods. Most of the other requests are posted around the woods. Enjoy!
The West Woods, the one across Washington Grove Lane from the main town, is composed for the most part of mature tulip Poplars. In late October, these present a sight that is not to be missed. Other than a few oaks, an occasional wild cherry and hickory, most of the other trees are medium-sized dogwood, the occasional mulberry, plus many, many shrubs in the 8 to 15-foot range, mostly honeysuckle. In early summer, wineberries can be picked and eaten on the way to the lake. While still quite prevalent, poison ivy is not nearly the problem here as it is in the East Woods.
Two springs, the only naturally-occurring springs in town, are also to be found in the West Woods. Both of them run in late winter and early spring on a fairly consistent basis. The more westerly of the two, the one closer to the Gaithersburg Ball Field, dries up by midsummer unless there is more rainfall than usual. The other spring, Maple Spring, feeds into Maple Lake. Wildlife in this area consists of the usual indigenous birds, squirrels and a few deer. In winter and spring, ducks and geese sometime stop at the lake and occasionally nest there.
The East Woods is far more diverse in many ways. The trees are for the most part oaks, with hickories, mulberries, wild cherry, maple holly, and box elder making up the rest. Many of the flowers, some of the shrubs, and probably even some of the trees were yanked from a yard at some time in the town’s history and dumped in the woods, where they took root and grew.
In the summer months, a few snakes (no poisonous ones have been sighted) and many box turtles can be found by looking in the damp areas. Lots of deer are seen by those quiet enough and patient enough to wait them out. There are more birds in the East Woods than in the West Woods. The Town has been lucky enough for the past few years to have mating pairs of pileated woodpecker, and great horned owls.
The East Woods also has more than its share of green briar and poison ivy. In spite of this, it seems more open and more like a traditional eastern woods than the West Woods which seems darker and more oppressive, particularly in the summer when the air is hot, quiet, and still, with hardly the sound of a bird moving through the silence of the under-canopy. The East Woods was originally planned to have homes much the same way as the main part of the town. There are even water mains and fire hydrants in place, and storm water drainage systems, but the plans went no further than that and the placement of the roads. These “roads” are now nothing more than walkways which are kept open to allow easy access to the woods by walkers and nature lovers, and should it ever be necessary, by fire equipment.
The Grove is renowned for its walking paths. In the older sections of town, houses front on walkways, with vehicular access only to the backs of houses. The paths continue in our two established woods, the East Woods and West Woods, and in Washington Grove Meadow Conservation Park on the east side of town.
Washington Grove Conservation Meadow Park
This beautiful meadow was once part of farm owned by Eugene B Casey, a major landowner in Maryland. From the establishment of the historic Camp Meeting in 1873 agricultural land bordered the southeastern edge of what is now the Town of Washington Grove, but this farm land between Washington Grove and the InterCounty Connector was eventually sold for development.
In 2001, the properties known as the Casey Property at Washington Grove were placed in the appendix of the Legacy Open Space Functional Master Plan (M-NCPPC, 2001) for potential designation as a Natural Resource within the LOS master plan.
When development was proposed on the site in late 2001, Legacy staff evaluated the site and determined that the site did not meet the LOS criteria for Natural Resources, but part of the property did meet the Heritage Resources criteria as an important part of the rural setting for the Town of Washington Grove. On February 7, 2002, the Planning Board approved the addition of 13 acres of meadow as a Heritage Resource to the LOS Master Plan. We are fortunate that preservation of the rural, open vistas of the agricultural fields that formed the setting for the historically-significant Town of Washington Grove was recognized by the Planning Board as it led to the Meadow Park we now enjoy.
From 2002 to 2008, the Piedmont Crossing (now Shady Grove Crossing) subdivision plan moved through the development review process and reached final approvals and the construction stage. The Town of Washington Grove was very active in negotiating with the developers of the property throughout the development process. Thanks to Town and Park staff efforts, the final approved plan created a preserved open space adjacent to the Town consisting of 12 acres of meadow and forest to be dedicated to park use.
As a result of the development review process and subsequent court activity, the property ownership rights are currently split between the Town of Washington Grove and M-NCPPC. The Town of Washington Grove owns the underlying in-fee property interest while M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks holds a deed of dedication that requires the Commission to maintain and operate the land as an open space park. This park is now a native meadow habitat with pockets of early forest succession to provide additional wildlife habitat as well as wooded areas which help buffer the town. The Washington Grove Conservation Park and nearby areas have natural surface trails providing a network of walking paths that complement the historic walkways in the town. This provides pedestrian connectivity throughout the Town including Town community buildings, parks and forest preserves.
Contact numbers for the Parks Department and the Park Police can be found in the kiosk at the park entrance. If you walk your dog in the Park, don’t forget to pick up after them! Montgomery County code requires removal of dog waste by the owner of the dog. This is for the comfort and safety of everyone.
The use of Woodward Park, including the basketball court, baseball/soccer field, picnic area, and the young children’s playground, is open to all, including non-residents. Specific facilities may be reserved for any day for a one-time non-recurring use, such as family picnics.
Disc Golf Course
The Town installed a disc golf basket in Woodward Park under the big oaks behind the stone fireplace. You can start anywhere in the park or play a 9-tee, one-basket course using these landmarks as the tees (PDF). Throw a Frisbee disc toward the disc golf basket. When the disc hits the hanging chains above the basket, it falls in. Nice shot! Questions about the course or how to play? Contact Tom Land.
Applications for Use of the Athletic Field
Anyone may use, and may reserve, the the soccer/baseball field for sports practices. For reservation information call the Town Office at 301-926-2256.
NOTE that all groups of 10 or more users must obtain a permit from the Town (PDF) in order to engage in games or other group activities in Woodward Park, whether for a one-time use or a recurring, regularly scheduled use. A minimum deposit of $100.00 is required for all permits. Please read Resolution 2013-07 re: Usage of Woodward Park (PDF) to learn the requirements of obtaining a permit.
Each year, the field opens on April 1st and closes on November 1st.
- Spring permits can be submitted any time after January 15th
- Summer permits can be submitted any time after April 15th
- Fall permits can be submitted any time after July 15th
Vehicular access to the park is limited to the hours between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. or dusk. Parking is restricted to the graveled parking areas along Oak Street. Parking is not permitted along Grove Road.
Town Committees that Tend to Our Outdoor Amenities
- Dog Park Committee
The Dog Park Committee maintains the condition of the park to ensure cleanliness, health and safety; registers dogs so that they can be permitted to use the park; maintains hours of operation; and enforces the provisions of Resolution No. 2018-06 and any other rules and regulations established by the Committee.
- Forestry & Beautification Committee
The F&B Committee Forestry and Beautification (F&B) Committee oversees the health and maintenance of trees, shrubs and the general appearance of Town land in the residential area of town.
- Lake Committee
The Lake Committee maintains Maple Lake as a beautiful and safe place to swim, relax, and fish.
- Recreation Committee
The Recreation Committee organizes and stages concerts, dances, lessons and events in the Grove.
- Woods Committee
The Woods Committee is working to revitalize the East Woods and the West Woods as natural spaces for our human and animal Grovers.