Need a vacation from your usual circuit of story time at the library or local book store? Head up to Black Hill Regional Park in Boyds, MD on select Thursdays in the summer for Story Time on the Lake.
Located in northern Montgomery County, Black Hill Regional Park is a 2000 acre green space with Little Seneca Lake as the focal point. Boat rentals and lake tours of all sorts are available at the boat dock from May through September. Kayaks, canoes and row boats can be rented for $8/hour or $27.50/day and there are various options to head out on to the lake aboard the Kingfisher pontoon boat.
The theme for our story time on the lake was turtles. “Captain Jack” and the two park volunteers on board did a great job in helping the kids to find turtles and other wildlife throughout the hour long program. Pontoon boat storytime requires advanced registration (through parkpass.org) and is geared towards kids from 3 to 6 years of age. No younger siblings are allowed and parents must register and pay for themselves as well as any children. Cost for the program is $5 per person or $4 if you are a member of the Friends of Black Hill.
When boarding the pontoon boat kids are fitted for a required life jacket and given binoculars to help them check out the surroundings of the lake. The story time facilitators were very prepared with a poster showing all of the different types of turtles that live in the area as well as three books, both fiction and non fiction that they read at various points during our pontoon tour of the lake.
We saw 8 turtles throughout our cruise as well as blue herons, a woodpecker, 2 mallards, many fisherman and lots of people enjoying the lake in kayaks and canoes. Kids were able to move around the boat during the various stops and were allowed to sit up on their knees to view the surroundings while the boat was moving.
Each Story Time on the Lake program will have a different nature focus. Upcoming dates include “Waterbirds” on June 16th, “Beavers” on June 30th, “Dragonflies” on July 14th, “Butterflies” on July 28th and “Lakeside Plants and Flowers” on August 11th. All programs begin at 10:30 and last approximately one hour.
Select Tuesday afternoons from 4 to 5pm, an Eagle themed story time on the lake is offered. For families that cannot head out to the lake on weekdays, pontoon tours of the lake (minus the story time) are held every Saturday and Sunday at 12:30, 2:00 and 3:30 for $4 per person. These tours do not require advanced registration and are first come, first served.
Check in for the story time program is at the boat itself. The Visitor’s Center is now closed during the week (due to budget cuts) but is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. To park in the most convenient lot head past the Visitor’s Center and pull into the next parking lot on your right.
At the edge of this lot is a brown building with bathrooms. Encourage kids to use these facilities as there is no bathroom onboard the boat and the port-a-potty located at the end of the dock was not too clean during the time of our visit. Drinking fountains and drink vending are also available outside of the restroom building.
It is easy to extend your visit to Black Hill Regional Park if you come for Story Time on the Lake. There are many areas to picnic, boat rentals, hiking trails and two large playgrounds to let your kids loose on! We also sat on the rocky “beach” near the boat rentals for a while and watched the kayakers paddle around.
Don’t miss out on this unique experience to get out on Little Seneca Lake for story time with your kids!
Photo by Kim Engstrom