What would tempt me out on a hot July day that was supposed to reach 99 degrees? Bullfrogs, of course.
I heard a couple of bullfrogs on a stroll one recent evening by the Linnean and Broad Branch streams. Then, on a Sunday morning walk along Rock Creek north of Peirce Mill, I heard it again: the familiar, but faint and easy-to-miss sound. Just ahead of me a woman remarked to herself, “A bullfrog.”
“Yes, what a great sound,” I responded. She told me that if I wanted to see bullfrogs in action, I should visit a pond off Klingle Trail in the rear of the Washington International School property. They put on quite a show, she said, even during the day.
I was hooked, and because my older daughter was in town, I hooked her into this venture too. We would set out the next morning in search of bullfrogs.
Now, 10 a.m. is not my favorite time to walk in the heat, but this is what you do for a daughter who wants to accompany you, but needs her sleep. So we set off at mid-morning. I decided the shady Western Ridge Trail from Grant Road would be the best bet. A deeply shaded and (for the most part) well-marked social trail leads you to this trail, if you can find the entrance off Grant Road and make it up a steep embankment.
The Western Ridge Trail crosses Broad Branch Road near the Beach Drive intersection. It then takes you along Rock Creek on a dirt path, which ends on the trail that goes under Tilden Street. The trail picks up again on the south side of the restroom and picnic shelter at Picnic Area 1 near Peirce Mill and follows Rock Creek until Klingle Road. This part of the trail has some steep rocky sections that might be challenging to some.
It was getting very warm, but we were mostly in shade until Klingle Road, a pedestrian and bike trail with a new surface, fencing, benches and lighting thanks to an extensive DDOT project.
After about ten minutes on this new trail, we came upon signs for the Tregaron Conservancy. I had seen this on the map with the location of the pond. A well-maintained trail on the Conservancy grounds beckoned with lots of shade. We soon clambered up a steep set of steps.
We asked for directions to the pond from a woman walking her leashed dog. She confirmed that the pond was just around the bend and warned us that it was, quite literally, hopping. These tiny frogs were hopping in and out of the water.
The first large bullfrog we saw did not look quite real. It stood its ground as I slowly approached, taking photos.
It was an idyllic setting for frog watching.
We saw many bullfrogs and heard their calls as we made our way around the pond. They often were hard to spot.
We circled back to our starting spot to find the first bullfrog had only moved over to the next rock. Maybe it was keeping a watchful eye over the pond as the other frogs frolicked about.
This 20-acre estate, originally known as “The Causeway,” was a collaboration between architect Charles Adams Platt and renown landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman. The Tregaron Conservancy was set up in 2006 to protect and rebuild the estate grounds. It is open to the public from dawn to dusk, free of charge. It is definitely worth a visit and we highly recommend the bullfrogs in the Lily Pond.