By Taylor Bromante
Baltimore Watchdog Contributor
For many, a perfect day spent outside might require a scenic stroll through cradling greenery, where silence is only interrupted by birds chirping all around, or perhaps drifting down a river by canoe.
A beautiful 346 acres of natural bliss, Quiet Waters Park is hidden away in south Annapolis and offers both of these options along with an abundance of other activities to make outdoor ventures memorable.
What makes this location even better than the average local park or nature conservancy is that visitors can celebrate a marriage, bond with man’s best friend, spot a variety of native Maryland creatures, participate in numerous water activities, bike or hike five-mile-long paths, ice skate, hold fundraisers and more, all amidst nature’s splendor.
“Quiet Waters has been one of my favorite places to visit since I was 10 years old,” said Olivia Piasecki, 21, of Crofton. “During the spring and summer, my friends and I always stand-up paddleboard on the South River and during the winter we love ice skating and grabbing hot cocoa after.”
The park welcomes people from all over and is open daily, offering free admission. It allows locals and visitors to take a break from the traffic-infested streets of Annapolis and delve into the serenity of nature.
“I have attended several family and social celebrations at Quiet Waters,” Piasecki said. “The Blue Heron room is popular for weddings or anniversaries, but the gazebos also offer a nice setting. I took my senior portraits there as well. The area is filled with huge weeping willows, wild flowers and grassy hills.”
The park holds a concert series during the summer months in an outside venue that features local talent and draws in large crowds of all ages.
“Often times we will have the Kelly Bell Band perform, who are a big name in Annapolis,” said David DeVault, a park ranger. “We will even get musicians from the Naval Academy from time to time.”
“The best concert series event we’ve had yet was the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra,” DeVault said. “It was a free concert on Labor Day, but we are able to hold events like these with the help of the community.”
The park’s attractions that are the outside music venue, the gazebos, the river and creek overlooks and the pavilions are all surrounded by habitats home to red fox and white tail deer, along with dozens of Maryland’s state flower, the Black Eyed Susan.
“Some people line up outside the park at 7 a.m. when we open so they can walk their dogs,” DeVault said. “There is a blend of many habitats here, we have wooded areas, meadows, marshes and scenic overlooks on the South River and Harness Creek. There is always a lot going on here.”
The park is home to maples of all kinds, oak trees, poplars, dogwoods, sycamores and 40 different shrubs and plants. There are green briar vines found in the woods, and wild flowers blooming spring through fall.
“The persimmon native plant that grows fruit, produces tiny seeds that attract lots of birds,” DeVault said. “I’ve learned a lot about the plants and animals from working here, and that’s why I enjoy my job.”
The park has held festivals and events open to the public with educational and philanthropic motives, including Earth Day Festival, the Sierra Club 5K Run and the Artist Park Festival.
“Our volunteers are the park’s foundation, really,” said Dave Burman, another Quiet Waters ranger. “Volunteers range from ages 12 to 60 and we wouldn’t be able to keep the park open and beautiful without them.”
There are before school nature programs throughout the year that are organized by the volunteers and park rangers. These programs teach children about the 50 different species of trees at the park, the importance of planting and even how to spot different types of birds and reptiles.
“I specialize in reptiles and amphibians, which I thoroughly enjoy teaching about,” Burman said. “The families who visit like knowing that they can come and learn to appreciate the environment while also being engrossed in some of its best qualities.”
DeVault and Burman have both done scoutmaster nature forums, where they are more than willing to educate guests about pond life and horticulture.
DeVault, Burman and other park rangers have had the pleasure of seeing the park grow since its creation 25 years ago. Tons of new features have been added like the reading and butterfly garden as well as the addition of spring and summer boat rentals.
“Quiet Waters is a great place to go on your day off,” said Kayla Zito, 22, of Annapolis. “I’ve been on a hiking and canoeing date there, and I’ve celebrated the life of a family member in the Blue Heron room.
“The art exhibits are probably my favorite,” she said. “It’s something about the peacefulness of nature that makes an outing so much more enjoyable.”
Emily Baker, 21, of Towson likes to fish on the South River with her family and their two dogs when visiting Quiet Waters. “I’ve been since I was a child for picnics and ice skating,” she said. “It’s nice knowing I can drop in for free to watch the clouds pass by and feel the seasons changing.”
There is clear evidence of the park’s longstanding history as a farm first discovered by settlers in the early 1700s. Artifacts are displayed throughout the entire park including oyster shells that are the remains of numerous weather events.
“Quiet Waters is a great place for families to visit or even plan a reunion,” said Susan Steckman, Annapolis vice president of communications. “The Blue Heron room is large enough to entertain over 100 guests and opens up into a courtyard with a fountain.”
“The park is great at driving community involvement,” Steckman said. “There are countless fundraisers throughout the year that help preserve the animals and plants there and provide services to visitors.”
Friends of Quiet Waters Park, a nonprofit organization, specializes in holding most of the fundraisers and projects. If the park wants to plant more shrubs or flowers or even expand certain areas and habitats, the organization is on it.
“I love hiking the trails,” said Zac Stergiou, 20, of Arnold. “Most of them are fairly level, and have pretty views. When I can’t make a trip up to Sugarloaf Mountain or Gunpowder Falls, it’s nice to drive around the corner and hike Quiet Waters. The whole area is nicely kept and there’s tons of space for everyone to explore.”
Perhaps one of the best times of year to visit the park is around Christmas. Kids become awestruck at the sight of Santa on the Zamboni smoothing out the ice, waving and of course, chuckling.
“Although the flowers and trees are not in bloom, the ice rink is filled with tons of people happy as can be,” said Bryce Koslosky, 22, of Crofton. “The entire park is beautiful when covered in a white blanket of snow and everyone is always in the best mood no matter if they are staff or guests.”
The appreciation for the park continues year round, rain or shine and provides a great sense of community and ecological importance.
Quiet Waters Park is an attraction that many locals constantly suggest people visit. Several local clubs have designated meetings days that are held weekly at the park including the Annapolis Bird Club and local churches.
The park is one of those destinations that can not only engage a community and act as the perfect spot for special occasions, it also reminds people of how the earth’s beauty can bring people together and give one peace of mind.