Visit Us

COVID-19 Visitor Guide

Young girl in forest, holding a large branch up against a tree

Welcome back! We've made some improvements to our hiking paths during our closure last year. We've also made a few changes to keep everyone safe as we continue to adapt to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Please read these regulations before your visit. We can't wait to see you again!

SERC Trail Map 
Improvements on our Discovery and Java History Trail, and Contee Farm Trails are all complete and open for hiking!

When is SERC open?
Monday through Saturday, 8am-5:30pm. We're closed on Sundays and federal holidays.

Do I need to wear a face covering?
No. As of March 11, 2022, visitors are no longer required to wear face coverings, either outdoors on our trails or inside the Reed Education Center where the public restrooms are located. However, anyone who wishes to wear a face covering is welcome to do so.

Who can come?
Any visitors in groups of six or less; no large vans or buses allowed. All trail users must arrive by car and park in the designated spaces.

Is there a limit on the number of people on campus?
Yes, we have a limit of 30 vehicles at one time. You will not be allowed to park outside the park and walk in. 

What do I need to do to enter? 

  • Before entering, on the day of your visit, all visitors ages 2 and older must do the following self-check of your healthIf you feel sick, please stay home to take care of yourself, and help protect our visitors and staff!
  • Practice social distancing of 6 feet.
  • Follow the social distancing rules and all signs posted around the campus.

Where can I park?
You can park at the Reed Education Center or the Contee Farm parking area. All other areas are off limits. 

Are there restrooms available?
Yes. Restrooms are at the Reed Education Center, and composting toilets are by the Contee Mansion Ruins. All other buildings are closed to the public.

Are there picnic areas available outside?
Yes, there are a number of picnic tables around the Reed Center, and inside the covered picnic pavilion. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please wipe down and clean your areas when you leave. Trash bins and recycling are provided. 

Where can I get maps?
At kiosks at the Reed Education Center, Contee Watershed Trail and New Dominion Building. You can also download and print our updated trail map.

Can I still launch canoes and kayaks?
Yes, absolutely! Please drop off canoes or kayaks and then park at the Reed Center. The launch fee is $5 per canoe or kayak, payable at the Reed Education Center.

What if I arrive by dinghy or kayak?
If you arrive by water, trail maps are available at the Reed Center. Please tie up at the dinghy dock or pull up into the grass by the ramp. Please do not tie up on SERC's larger dock where the research vessels are located.

Can I walk or hike the road to the main campus?
Sorry, not right now. The only areas open to visitors are the first half of the dock (not beyond the gates), Reed Center restrooms, trails, and Contee Farm parking and restrooms. 

Can I bring my pet?
Sorry, no! Because we're an active research facility, no pets are allowed on the SERC campus.

Please note: COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that is believed to mainly spread from person-to-person contact. The Smithsonian is doing its part to mitigate transmission intensity, and we ask you, our visitors, to do the same and help us reduce the spread of COVID-19. You must follow all posted instructions while visiting the Smithsonian, including instructions about wearing face coverings and social distancing. Despite these measures, the risk of contracting COVID-19 could increase by visiting the Smithsonian. By visiting the Smithsonian, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.  The Smithsonian reserves the right to modify its hours of operations, capacity, or visitor guidelines as circumstances require and to deny entry or access to any person who fails to follow these guidelines or whose conduct puts Smithsonian staff, visitors, or property at risk.