If you want a live, up-close, in-person view of a Bald Eagle, don’t go to Caledon State Park. Go to a zoo.
If you want to see Eagles in the wild soaring in the air, all be it from a distance away. And if you want to learn about and experience their habitat. And if you want to run in a natural setting with nothing but the sites and sounds of nature. Well, then, Caledon is a great place to go.
Col and I traveled a little bit over an hour from Northern Virginia to Caledon on a sunny Saturday. The park, in King George County, is along the Potomac at the upper edge of the Northern Neck.
Caledon has one of the largest concentrations of American Bald Eagles on the East Coast. The land was donated to the state as a preserve in 1974 by Ann Smoot from Alexandria at a time when the use of the pesticide DDT put Eagles on the endangered list. Eagles have since made a comeback. While still protected, they went off the endangered list in 1995.
We started the day with a tour that included taking a van to Potomac River shoreline. We got glimpses, but the birds never came all that close to us. You can read Col’s story for more information on the park.
For my run, I retraced much of the same ground covered during the tour. In many stretches, soft dirt shoulders along the gravel trails made for feet-friendly running. The trees blocked the sun’s heat when I wasn’t right along the shore.
While I often have music on when I run, I instead let the sound of birds and the rustling of other wildlife (mostly squirrels) fill my ears. Despite it being a sunny day in late June, there were very few people in the park. I saw maybe a dozen or two in the four hours we were there.
In addition to views of the Potomac and the numerous trails, the park has picnic grounds and a visitor center with a small gift shop. It offers various tours by van and by kayak. It hosts a 10K in late September.
King George County was founded in 1720. It is the birthplace of James Madison, the fourth president of the US. It has a population of about 25,000. The biggest employer is Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. The research facility is adjacent to the Harry W. Nice Bridge that connects the Northern Neck with Southern Maryland.
54 runs down, 80 to go.
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