At a Glance
Hours: Dawn to dusk.
Tips: Mt. Pleasant Farm is sometimes closed for managed deer hunts. ■ Pets must be leashed at all times, and dog waste must be disposed of properly. ■ No horses, bicycles, or motorized vehicles allowed.
Best Seasons: Spring, fall, winter.
Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Sykesville CE, Ellicott City CW
Howard County Conservancy – Mount Pleasant Farm
10520 Old Frederick Road, Woodstock, MD 21163-0175
Note: As of December 20, 2022, the Nature Center at Mount Pleasant is closed because of flooding that damaged the building during extremely cold weather. Trails remain open but a re-opening date for the building is not yet known. Read about a special fundraising effort here.
Mount Pleasant Farm in Howard County is a 232–acre farm owned by the Howard County Conservancy. The farm contains fields, hedgerows, small woodlands, streams, two small natural wetlands, and one small artificial wetland. The yard around the historic farmhouse contains a variety of mature trees. Buildings, parking, and planned activities are grouped near the end of the entrance drive. Four miles of mowed trails extend east and west from this cluster over rolling hills, through a few woodlands, and along field edges. There are some bridged stream crossings. Land on the western edge from Davis Branch to Woodstock Road is owned by Howard County; some Patapsco Valley State Park land abuts the east boundary—both of these adjoining tracts are managed by the Conservancy.
Wander as the birds and your inclinations dictate. Mt. Pleasant has much good habitat, and many species can occur anywhere on the property. Watch the sky for flyovers. The yard and orchard around the historic farmhouse are attractive to woodpeckers and sapsuckers. The community gardens may hold sparrows, buntings, and some migrants in the fall. See also Howard County’s bird club website for additional information, including detailed walking routes: https://howardbirds.website/birding/birding-howard-county-md/site-guides/mount-pleasant/.
While in the area, check out the Waverly Stormwater Pond on the south side of Rt. 99 and below the Woodstock Post Office, just west of Dorchester Way; this pond attracts good birds and has its own eBird hotspot (https://ebird.org/hotspot/L715287).
Look for hawks, Red-headed Woodpecker, vireos, flycatchers, warblers (34 species reported!), and sparrows (16 species reported). Be alert for flyovers: Red-headed Woodpecker has been seen in flight many times during migration periods. Both Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos are present throughout the breeding season. American Woodcock is another breeding species. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers has been noted several times in the area immediately east of the Gudelsky Center in fall migration, and Olive-sided Flycatcher sometimes shows up. Bobolinks come through in both spring and fall. The west field in fall through spring often yields Savannah Sparrow and occasionally Vesper Sparrow. Clay-colored Sparrow was found here once. Common Ravens now occur year-round.
The Gudelsky Environmental Education Center (open Wed-Sat 9-3, closed Saturdays in winter) is handicapped accessible and has a bird-feeder viewing area. Paths are not suitable for wheelchairs—all are mown grass with some inclines.
Pets must be leashed at all times, and dog waste must be disposed of properly.
The Howard County Conservancy is a certified Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Green Center.
The Mountjoy historic barn on the grounds dates from the late 18th Century. ■ Hodge-Podge Lodge, the set of a 1970s PBS Nature Program, is now located on the grounds, having been moved from its original location. ■ Ranger the Barred Owl, a rescued owl, resides at the Center. ■ The grounds include the John L. Clark Honors Garden, where native plants memorialize loved ones. There is also a Butterfly Garden established by a local Girl Scout Troop. ■ The Robbins Sky Watch area, named in honor of the venerable ornithologist Chandler Robbins, is used for hawk watches during migration season and also for night-time star watches and for educational programs. ■ The Gudelsky Environmental Education Center at Mt. Pleasant Farm conducts an extensive series of nature education programs. ■ A seasonal list of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, and herps at Mount Pleasant Farm is available at https://howardbirds.website/birding/birding-howard-county-md/site-guides/mount-pleasant/mount-pleasant-species-lists/, courtesy of the Howard County Bird Club.
Check out the Howard County Conservancy’s virtual tour of Mount Pleasant Farm.
Local MOS Chapter:
The Howard County Bird Club, a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, holds bird walks at Mount Pleasant Farm and throughout the county; such walks are free and open to the public. See the Howard County Bird Club’s calendar for more information. The Howard County Bird Club has a detailed online guide, “Birding Howard County,” on their website at https://howardbirds.website/birding/birding-howard-county-md/site-guides/. Edited by Joanne Solem, the online guide replaces an older printed guide, now out-of-print. The website is up-to-date and extremely detailed. Check it out!
Gravel lots, with grass overflow parking. See trail map at link at left for locations.
From points south: Take I-95, I-295, or I-97 north and then take the exit for MD Route 32 westbound. From Route 32, take Exit 16A to go north on US Route 29 toward Columbia. Stay on Route 29 for 9.5 miles, crossing US Route 70, then turn left to go west on MD Route 99/Old Frederick Road. Mt. Pleasant Farm will be on your right (north side of the road) in 3.4 miles. Turn right into the driveway and continue to the parking area.
From the Baltimore Beltway/I-695: Take Exit 16 to go west on I-70 toward Frederick. Stay on I-70 for 4.4 miles, then take Exit 87B to go north on US Route 29. In just 0.7 miles, turn left to go west on MD Route 99/Old Frederick Road. Mt. Pleasant Farm will be on your right (north side of the road) in 3.4 miles. Turn right into the driveway and continue to the parking area.
From points west: Take I-70 east to Exit 87B, then go north on US Route 29. In just 0.7 miles, turn left to go west on MD Route 99/Old Frederick Road. Mt. Pleasant Farm will be on your right (north side of the road) in 3.4 miles. Turn right into the driveway and continue to the parking area.
Howard County: Centennial Lake & Park ■ David Force Natural Resource Area ■ Lake Elkhorn ■ Middle Patuxent Environmental Area ■ Patapsco Valley State Park – Daniels Area ■ Patapsco Valley State Park – Henryton ■ Patuxent River State Park – Annapolis Rock Road Area ■ Patuxent River State Park – Hipsley Mill Road Area ■ Rockburn Branch Park ■ Schooley Mill Park ■ Triadelphia Reservoir (Brighton Dam) ■ Western Regional Park ■ Wilde Lake
Bottomland DeciduousHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Garden or ArboretumLawn, Ballfields, Golf Course Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Freshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirRivers & Streams
Features:BeginnersBird Feeding StationFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHabitat Restoration ProjectHawk WatchHiking/Walking TrailsHistorical FeaturesHuntingNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsObservation Platform or TowerParkingWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Gardens & ArboretaMAEOE Green CenterNature CentersPrivate Sanctuaries and Preserves