Week Six #explorethereserve: KPC Buddhist Temple, Garuda aviary, & Trails
Welcome to #explorethereserve week six! This week we focus on a taste of Tibet tucked away in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve at the KPC Buddhist Temple, Garuda Aviary, and Peace Park. Open to all people, explore this rich culture, appreciate the bird rescue, and enjoy the lovely hiking trails in the Peace Park.
What is #explorethereserve?
This community outreach project highlights weekly locations with ideas for getting off screens and heading outside to improve mental and physical health, explore our corner of MoCo, and provide inspiration for COVID-safe adventures in and near the Ag Reserve.
Click here to read more about #explorethereserve. Check out past #explorethereserve adventures linked at the bottom of this post.
KPC Buddhist Temple & Grounds
From River Road, turn into KPC’s driveway lined with colorful prayer flags and follow the signs to the visitors parking lot. Though the Temple is closed at this time for COVID safety, please be sure to wear a mask when on the temple grounds or Peace Park–masks are available for those who need one. The features on this side of River Road are more accessible than the Peace Park, which is entered via a set of tall stairs. There is a single portapotty (not ADA-compliant) by the visitors parking lot.
I suggest you begin by exploring the temple grounds, making a loop around the main building. Maps are posted and you can pick up a hard copy for yourself on the front porch of the temple.
The Temple grounds are a beautiful and serene spot to spend some time and relax. Explore the large Englightenment Stupa, two smaller stupas along the rear treeline, the Amitabha and Quan Yin gardens, prayer wheels, and the Lady Liberty water garden. As you wander, take some time to read about these features on posted signage and have a seat on a nearby bench if you feel drawn to a particular spot.
The KPC Temple grounds are an engaging place for the senses. One of my visits was on a windy day and the air was filled with the sweet smokiness of incense, the resonance of wind chimes, and crisp flapping of the many colorful prayer flags, punctuated with an occasional rooster crow. It also seems to be a favorite spot of birds, with a high-traffic feeding station, many soaring overhead, and even a stray chicken pecking and scratching. There are many tall trees on the property and it backs up to McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, so it feels like a piece of Tibet plopped down in the wild parts of the Ag Reserve. (And somewhere on the property is the Montgomery County Champion Mimosa tree.)
Garuda Aviary is located on the KPC Temple grounds and is a rescue and sanctuary for parrots who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned. Their mission is to care for these birds, educate the public about challenges in keeping them as pets, and spread awareness of the harmful exotic bird trade. The Aviary has posted signage indicating whether open or closed on a side driveway to the left of the Temple building.
On designated days from 1:00pm-5:00pm, weather permitting, you can visit the Garuda flock enjoying their outdoor flight cage and misting sessions. It is a wonderful experience to see these beautiful birds squawking and flapping with delight. Each of these birds has a distinct personality and some have incredibly tragic stories of how they came to Garuda, including being found in a dumpster (!!!).
Click here for more information and to contact the Aviary to confirm their open/closed status.
KPC Peace Park Trails
The KPC Peace Park is a 65 acre network of interlinked trails that lead to 5 color-themed gardens and 2 Stupa parks. This park is a community resource, open to all to enjoy. Some trails are better maintained than others, so wear comfortable and water-resistant footwear and take care when visiting during tick season. Enter the Peace Park by crossing River Road (be careful–cars often drive very fast!) and taking the wooden stairs up to the entrance.
There is a large informational display here, including a map of the trails and various gardens. Once on them, the trails are not especially well marked, so you may like to snap a photo of the map if you did not pick up a hard copy from the Temple porch.
The Peace Park trails wind through the forest, down gullies, up hills, and cross streams. This is a place of serenity and solace, no matter your personal spiritual or religious beliefs. Each of the color-themed gardens has a special significance to Tibetan Buddhism. At these small gardens, you will find various spiritual objects, such as prayer flags, prayer wheels, and crystals.
The Long Life Stupa Park and Migyur Dorje Stupa are the largest features in the Peace Park. On one of my visits, I felt drawn to the beauty of the Migyur Dorje Stupa space. I leaned against a cedar tree under a resonant set of wind chimes. The strength of the tree against my back, I observed clouds racing above me, the whoosh of the wind in the trees, and the creaking and clacking of tree limbs coming together in the air above me.
Montgomery County’s Ag Reserve is full of treasures, some of them, like KPC are surprising. COVID may put a damper on our international travel plans, but it’s also given us an invitation to slow down, look closely, and savor the gems close to home.
OPTIONS & IDEAS FOR WEEK six #EXPLORETHERESERVE: KPC Buddhist Temple, Garuda aviary, & Peace Park
- You may like to visit KPC’s website before your visit to find out more about their traditions and beliefs
- Enjoy a prayer, meditation, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong session
- Explore each trail and feature in the Peace Park and Temple grounds
- Visit the Garuda Aviary outdoor flight cage (remember to confirm open status first)
- Bring a sketchbook or journal to record your experiences
- Forest bathing in the Peace Park
- Cloud gazing
- Bird watching–you may see a wide variety of species since KPC is adjacent to McKee-Beshers
- Observe native plants and animals
- Consider volunteering or making a donation to help maintain the Peace Park trails and gardens (And award students SSL hours for their help!)
- Consider volunteering, making a donation, or sponsoring a bird to support Garuda Aviary’s work
DIG DEEPER INTO LOCAL HISTORY, NATURE, & CULTURE:
- Bread and Beauty: A Year in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve This wonderfully photographed cookbook captures the beauty and flavors of the Ag Reserve.
- Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region, National Audubon Society Up your birding game with this guide.
- How to Practice the Way to a Meaningful Life A friendly guide for all on developing morality, meditation skills, and wisdom.
(AFFILIATE MARKETING NOTICE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase a book from any of the Amazon links above, I will earn a small commission fee.)
- Garuda Aviary Learn more about parrots, Garuda’s mission, and info. on visiting
- Kunzang Palyul Choling Learn more about KPC, Tibetan Buddhism, and Peace Park
SUPPORT AG RESERVE LOCAL BUSINESSES
While you’re out and about, help support local businesses by stopping in for a snack or meal. Please check operating days and hours via business websites and social media. Many of these are small, family-run operations with funky opening hours/days. I recommend:
- Cafe 107 Grab a quick bite to eat or a coffee
- Calleva Farm Cafe Enjoy a farm fresh breakfast or lunch in the fresh air
- The Healthy Hub Healthy smoothies, energy teas, and light bites
- Mexican Grill Best Mexican food in MoCo
- Rocklands Farm Historic farm, vineyard, and great picnic spot
- Windridge Vineyards Vino and food trucks with a view
LET’S KEEP EXPLORING THE AG RESERVE!
New adventures will be posted each Wednesday morning on the Taste Travel Teach website and linked via the Taste Travel Teach FB page.
Don’t miss #explorethereserve updates! Subscribe to my blog and follow Taste Travel Teach on Facebook. Look for updates on Wednesday mornings.
Share #explorethereserve further by reposting to your own social media and sharing with family and friends.
Use the hashtag #explorethereserve to share your experiences/photos on social media to inspire others and build community.
Suggestions for upcoming #explorethereserve adventures? Click on the Contact button here.
Thanks for reading and taking part in #explorethereserve. I hope you enjoyed learning, exploring, and discovering more about Montgomery County’s Ag Reserve. See you next Wednesday for a new adventure!
ABOUT TASTE TRAVEL TEACH & CHRISTINE RAI:
- Click here to learn more about me and my credentials.
- Check out my shop for unique products with my creative flair (see image above, L)
- Contact me here about teaching a class, leading a tour, or speaking to your group.
- My current project: I’m finishing up my first book, a sunny guide for positive living featuring my vibrant multimedia art (see image above, R).
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Copyright Christine Rai, 2020