Plan Your Visit to Irvine
Trails, Wetlands & Exhibits
Irvine’s 211 acre property showcases the beauty of Maryland’s natural landscape. With nearly 8 miles of hiking trails, gardens featuring native plants, and our Outdoor Classroom built for child-led nature play, there’s an outdoor experience just waiting for you to explore at Irvine. During colder months, visit Irvine’s two bird feeding blinds to observe or photograph resident song birds.
Irvine’s Outdoor Classroom provides an open, natural space for children to engage in nature play. Fallen stumps and logs become balance beams, forts, and castles; mud, sand, and leaves become the ingredients needed to create five-star meals in our play kitchen. The Outdoor Classroom is perfect for children of all ages. Come out and play to see what your child can imagine and achieve! Please note the outdoor classroom is closed to the public Monday-Friday as our Nature Preschoolers utilize this area during the week.
Native American Site
In partnership with the Baltimore American Indian Center, Stevenson University, and local experts and historians, Irvine’s Native American Site offers visitors a unique glimpse at the dwellings, structures, and tools utilized by the First Americans. Located on Irvine’s new Bauer Preserve, all visitors are welcome to hike to the site daily during Irvine’s hours of operation. We also welcome field trips and groups to coordinate with our Education Team to plan your field trip or group outing to see the site, learn, and partake in fun crafts and games.
The Robert L. Mardiney Aviary
Irvine’s new Aviary, named after our longtime former Director of Education, Robert Mardiney is home to eight native raptor species: a Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Black Vulture, American Kestrel, Eastern Screech Owl, two Red Tailed Hawks and a Red Shouldered Hawk. Having sustained injuries that make their release back into the wild impossible, each bird is a full-time resident of Irvine Nature Center. The birds are cared for by Irvine’s dedicated Animal Care team who ensure their health and well-being year-round.
More than a hundred species of shade-loving native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ferns and grasses have been planted here, and they are protected from an ever-growing deer population by a surrounding fence. The strong latticed gate at the entrance welcomes visitors into a stunning garden full of Maryland’s native plants. This beautiful spot is possible thanks to the St. George’s Garden Club and Irvine volunteers Ann Benz and Joan Hoblitzell. To take a stroll through the garden, take the lower trail that begins at the far left of the Outdoor Classroom. You’ll see the gates on your right.
The property that Irvine calls home spent many years as farmland. As a result, since moving to this new space in 2008, Irvine’s staff has worked tirelessly to restore the land to its original state. Our Wetlands Restoration project commenced before our move, but has officially taken root and changed the surrounding landscape. Our wetlands now serve not only as a scenic trail stop, but also as a filtration system for the groundwater and streams on our property — including the headwaters of both the Gwynns and Jones Falls.
Irvine’s Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Environmental Education Building offers our guests an indoor space for exploration. Visitors can enjoy our live animal exhibits, play in our children’s room, and get more information about the programs and classes offered at Irvine.
Trout in the Classroom
Trout in the classroom is an environmental education program that allows students to raise Salmonoids (Trout and Salmon) from eggs to fingerlings in the classroom and then release them into a nearby stream or river. Caring for the fish allows students the opportunity to learn about water quality, stream habitats, water resources, and fosters a respect for watersheds and the overall environment. In Maryland alone, over 120 school participate each year!
Open June through September, Irvine’s Butterfly House allows visitors to experience an up-close look at the habitat and life cycle of our native butterflies, including the monarch, swallowtail and painted lady. Discover the amazing metamorphosis that these creatures make, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. And, you’ll learn about the vital role butterflies play in plant pollination and in the food chain.