Trail Discovery for Kids: Blue Mash Trail

Hike Information

  • This 2 mile circuit hike in northern Montgomery County surrounds the long-closed Oaks Landfill and its reservoir system.
  • The trail is a mowed-field path with no elevation gain or loss.
  • Surrounding the trail is a meadow ecosystem with succession of immature deciduous trees, such as river birch, sycamore, red oaks and red maples, and conifer trees, mostly cedar, supported by a an understory of witch hazel and viburnum.
  • The parking lot is on the west side of Zion Rd. in Laytonsville. It is marked by a small, brown sign labeled Blue Mash Trail.
  • In the parking lot, use the trailhead at the end of the parking lot and hike the circuit counterclockwise. When reaching the reservoir, hike to the right counterclockwise one-third around it and then the trail will enter a tunnel of cedar and deciduous trees. Shortly after exiting this treed tunnel, make the second right at the trail intersection. At the second intersection, turn left with the landfill being on the right side. At the third intersection, turn right with the landfill continuing to be on the right. The trail will dead end and turn to the left on a gravel road. This will lead you back to the parking lot.
  • To hike a shorter 1.25 mile circuit, turn left at the first trail intersection and continue straight at the third intersection essentially cutting of two sides of a triangle.
  • The hike is jogging stroller friendly.
  • Link to the trail map.

What is fun for kids?

  • Kids and parents can fill their tummies with as many raspberries and blackberries as their heart’s desire. The trail is full of berry plants. The best time to go is the end of June into July.
  • In May, the meadows are full of raspberry and blackberry flowers, buttercups, crown vetch, milkweed and sprouting Joe Pye weed which blooms at the end of the summer.
  • The meadow invites a lot of butterflies, such as many varieties of swallowtail, monarchs, and skippers, and 32 different species of birds have been identified along the trail making it a great birding destination.
  • Look for and listen to frogs and turtles along the reservoir.


  • Because it is a sunny meadow with few shady spots, it is best to visit this trail on a day with lower temperatures or at the beginning or end of the day.
  • Bring bug spray and wear long pants to help protect against ticks and gnats.
  • There is no bathroom or trash cans; therefore, pack out your garbage.

Have you hiked this trail? If you have comments and would like to share with the Our Kids readers, email Our Kids.

Hiking Along engages children in exploration of the natural world through hiking on scenic trails around the metro DC region. Groups of children, preschool to high school, participate in hands-on science activities to learn about the natural surroundings while hiking on trails. Visit for more information.

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