The Middle Patuxent Environmental Area is a little-known local gem. According to the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks website, the nature area of more than 1,000 acres is home to an abundance of wildlife, including 150 species of birds, more than 40 types of mammals and many amphibians, reptiles and fish. Over five miles of hiking trails are available to provide an escape into nature, including the Wildlife Loop Trail, the Southwind Trail and a smaller connector trail. Parking is available at 5795 Trotter Road. Learn more at middlepatuxent.org.