At a Glance
Hours: Lilypons is open to birders during normal business hours, which change seasonally. Check the Lilypons website for current hours. Note that the business is normally closed on major holidays and may be closed unexpectedly during inclement weather. MOS chapters that want to schedule field trips on weekends or before the gates open can request the loan of a key for the gate from the president of the Frederick MOS Chapter or the Montgomery MOS chapter.
Cost: Free. Remember that you are a guest on private property. Making a purchase, even a small one, would be a token of your appreciation. And please be friendly and polite to staff and other visitors.
Tips: Please park in the designated parking area down the hill by the retail store. If the business is closed, do not park on the road and do not climb the fence. Return at another time. ◾ There will be walking in grass and on uneven trails; wear sturdy, waterproof boots. ◾ In warm weather, be prepared for ticks and lots of sun. Winter conditions can be windy. Summer can be hot and buggy. ◾Restrooms are available to visitors near the parking area.
Best Seasons: Year-round.
Breeding Bird Atlas Block: Buckeystown CE
Local MOS Chapter: Frederick Bird Club
Lilypons Water Gardens
6800 Lily Pons Road, Adamstown, MD 21710
Lilypons Water Gardens, a privately owed business, has been selling plants and supplies for water gardens since 1917. There are a large number of man-made ponds on the property, as well as open fields and riparian woodlands along the Monocacy River and Bennett Creek. The owners and staff at Lilypons Water Gardens have been remarkably hospitable and gracious to birders over the years. If you visit, please be on your best behavior and thank the staff for allowing the visit. Hint: please consider making a purchase, even a small one, as a sign of your appreciation.
Due to its size and range of habitat, Lilypons has an abundance of bird species in all seasons, and is famous for rarities. In fact, Lilypons is the #1 eBird hotspot in Frederick county, in terms of number of species reported.
Birders are welcome to walk the property when the gardens are open for business. There is a viewing platform and kiosk near the main building. Be sure to check the trail maps provided by the Frederick Bird Club Trail Map link at left. Using a scope from the Monocacy Bridge gives a good view of many of the garden center ponds and can provide productive birding.
Over 255 species have been reported on eBird at the hotspot for Lilypons Water Gardens. Birds regularly seen in the warm months include: Wood Duck, Green Heron, Great Egret, Least Bittern, Virginia Rail, Osprey, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, White-eyed, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated and Warbling Vireo, Willow and Acadian Flycatcher, most woodpecker species and many sparrow species. Raptors are abundant. Northern Rough-winged Swallows nest under the adjacent Monocacy River Bridge.
During migration, there are a variety of waterfowl, rails, and shorebirds including American Black Duck, American Wigeon, Gadwall, American Coot, Sora, plovers, sandpipers and yellowlegs. Almost 30 wood warbler species have been reported in migration. Lincoln’s Sparrow is regularly seen in the fall.
In winter, look for a variety of ducks (including Hooded and Common Merganser), Wilson’s Snipe, kinglets, Winter Wren, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Purple Finch. Rarities in recent years include Anhinga, King Rail, Common Gallinule, Red Phalarope, Golden Eagle, Cliff Swallow, Vesper Sparrow, and Mourning Warbler.
The parking area is wheelchair accessible, but most of the trails are natural surface and may be muddy or soft, not conducive to wheelchair use.
Did you know: the gardens and a nearby village are named after the famed opera star Lily Pons (1898-1976), hence there is no “d” in the word “Pons.”
The 42-mile-long Monocacy Water Trail passes by Lilypons on its way from Rocky Ridge in the north to its south end at the Monocacy Boat Ramp on the Potomac River. A PDF version of the Monocacy Water Trail Map can be downloaded for free. There is no put-in or boat ramp at Lilypons or the Monocacy River Bridge, but there are plenty of other put-ins on the river. The nearest upstream put-in is at Buckeystown Community Park off Route 80, Fingerboard Bridge Road, and the nearest downstream put-in is at Park Mills NRMA off Park Mills Road. Both of these put-ins are free, but other access sites on the Water Trail may require a permit or a fee. The use of life jackets approved by the US Coast Guard is required; see the Monocacy Water Trail Map for details.
The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Frederick Bird Club, which hosts fields trips and meetings with informative presentations, all free and open to the public.
Please park in the designated parking area down the hill by the retail store. Do not park on the road. If the business is closed, return at another time.
From I-270 in Frederick: Take MD Route 85 south for 5 miles. Turn left on Lilypons Road (a sign for Lilypons is at the intersection). Go 1.3 miles to the main entrance on the left. From the Washington, DC Beltway (I-495), take Exit 35 to I-270 north for 25.6 miles. Take exit 26 onto MD Route 80/Fingerboard Road toward Buckeystown. After 1.9 miles, turn left onto Park Mills Road. After 3.5 miles, turn right onto Lily Pons Road. The gardens will be on the right.
Frederick County: Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary ◾ C&O Canal – Mouth of Monocacy to Brunswick ◾ Catoctin Mountain Park ◾ Cunningham Falls State Park ◾ Fred J. Archibald Audubon Sanctuary ◾ Gambrill State Park ◾ Seymour B. Cooper MOS Sanctuary ◾ Sugarloaf Mountain
Features:BeginnersFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHistorical FeaturesNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsParkingPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWater ViewYoung People / Families
Type:#1 Hotspot in County or CityGardens & ArboretaPonds, Lakes, and ReservoirsWater Trails