Would you like a self-guided walk around the restored headwaters of Spa Creek? This guide will direct you to views of the headwaters and the marshy woods surrounding the streams that flow into Spa Creek before its entrance into downtown Annapolis. This approximately 2.5 mile walk on pavement will allow you to see some of the restored areas of Spa Creek without getting your feet wet. The walk begins and ends at the parking lot beside the running track behind Bates, off of Spa Road, Annapolis. Look for Weems Whalen Field in your GPS.
Cross Spa Road and follow the trail behind the athletic fields. Spa Creek is on your left. This area has been restored to a wooded marsh, complete with the installation of Beaver Dam Analogs (BDA) which simulate beaver dams and slow the flow of water from storms. Slower flow of water allows the soil to capture and filter impurities from the stormwater before it gets into Spa Creek. Real beavers are here building dams of their own. Turtles, deer, fox, rabbits, birds of prey and fish have been spotted in this quiet, natural marsh.
Cross through the parking lot at Ceremony Coffee and walk on McGuckian Street to South Cherry Grove where you will turn left and walking to the footbridge. Looking up the stream (around the bend and out of eyesight) is Chinquapin Round Road where Spa Creek physically begins. The Chinquapin and Lincoln business district is nearly 95% pavement and all stormwater flows from the businesses and roadways into the Lincoln Drive outfall.
The headwaters restoration included widening the stream bed and building stepped pools so that runoff would be slowed and cooled. The pools provide aquatic species with habitat while the native trees and shrubs give cover and habitat to birds and four-legged species. Since the restoration there has been a 75% decrease in the bacteria levels of water samples taken at the South Cherry Grove footbridge.
Cross the footbridge turn left on Hawkins Lane and then right on Merryman, following it all the way to Hilltop.
Turn left on Hilltop and then left again on Spa Road, crossing over to the other side.
Walk up Spa Road to Silopanna and turn right.
When you see signs for the Children's Museum turn left.
The entire ravine/wooded area by the Children's Museum was another restoration project. There was a very steep ravine here and water rushed into the creek carrying with it harmful chemicals, sediment and other road runoff. Step pools were installed to slow the flow of water and the bed of the ravine filled in to help level it out. Invasive plants were removed and native trees and pollinators planted. On the other side of the Museum driveway is a short wooded path that hugs a branch of Spa Creek. It comes out near the radio tower and the footpath you need to follow back to your car so feel free to explore.
As you walk past the Children's Museum and the old radio tower, continue on the pathway and cross the footbridge over the creek.
This is another spot for weekly water sampling each summer to check for bacteria. From the bridge, look up the stream to see another part of the restoration where the streambed was widened and filled to enable fish spawning in the upper creek. Look into the tidal creek on your right and you will see the native grass shoreline below Bates Middle School, which used to be filled with invasive reeds known as phragmites. More than 400 truck loads of phragmites were pulled out of the creek and replaced with native vegetation.
Emerging from the woods, turn left on the path and it will lead you back to the parking lot near the track.