Terrific trails to try in Maryland, New York
Last month’s Chesapeake Challenge featured hikes in Pennsylvania and Delaware. This month’s quiz explores hikes in the New York and Maryland portions of the Bay watershed. After matching a trail or location to its description, perhaps you will be inspired to explore one of these hikes in person. Answers are below.
BEAVER ROCK TRAIL
BILLY GOAT TRAIL
FALLING BRANCH TRAIL
GOODYEAR SWAMP SANCTUARY
GRIST MILL TRAIL
SASSAFRAS NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT AREA
WHAUPAUNAUCAU LOOP HIKE
WHITE BANKS TRAIL
1. Hikers of all ages and skill levels will enjoy this 1.3-mile loop trail leading to 17-foot Kilgore Falls, the second highest vertical drop waterfall in Maryland. The trail is in Rocks State Park but is found on a separate parcel located about 5 miles north of the main park.
2. This 5.2-mile, ADA-accessible, out-and-back trail in Patapsco Valley State Park takes you back in history. Hikers on the heavily wooded path near Lost Lake will pass the Swinging Bridge, which allowed Orange Grove Flour Mill employees to cross the river on their way to work. The mill burned down in 1905 but one can still see the ruins. The trail also comes within 300 feet of Bloede Dam, which is thought to have the world’s first submerged electrical generating plant, which was housed underwater inside the dam. For their safety, visitors must keep at least 300 feet away from the dam, both upriver and down.
3. This easy, 1.6–mile loop hike gains only 219 feet in elevation. It shares its name with the state forest it traverses. The forest’s name is Native American for “land of the marten,” a weasel-like creature that once lived there. Today, hikers might encounter deer, squirrels, ruffed grouse, red and gray foxes and porcupine amid red and Scotch pines, Eastern hemlock, red and sugar maples, American beech and white ash.
4. This hike on Bear Island in the Metro DC area is actually three trails of varying skill levels connected by the towpath along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. They feature wildflowers and spectacular views of the Potomac. (Be sure to visit the nearby Great Falls of the Potomac.) While Section “A” is the most popular, it is also the most difficult trail and is not recommended for those who are afraid of heights. Hikers must be able to scramble over angled rocks and large boulders. Section “B” has minimal rock scrambling. Section “C,” easiest of the trails, is still rated as moderate for difficulty. The trail is very popular, but those who get on it before 8 a.m. will miss most of the crowds.
5. This challenging 3-mile out-and-back hike trek in Elk Neck State Park features lush woods blanketed with ferns and rhododendrons, amazing views of and from White Clay Cliffs, and overlooks of the Chesapeake. Consider yourself warned from someone who has done the hike, there are a couple of stiff climbs — but they’re worth it.
6. This 0.8-mile trail in the Glendening Nature Preserve begins near a butterfly garden at Plummer House and passes near a high bluff overlooking Galloway Creek, where beaver have been known to build dams in the past. It ends at a sand barrens that is home to prickly pear and loblolly pines.
7. This 0.25-mile walk at the northwest end of Otsego Lake is a system of trails and boardwalks that offer hikers the opportunity to observe more than 200 vascular plant species, invertebrates, waterfowl, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. A tour booklet is available at the entrance. The area is managed by the SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station for research and education as well as to protect rare plants and animals. It helps maintain water quality in Otsego Lake, the source of the Susquehanna River.
8. This system of trails begins at a farm lane down the middle of a waterfront peninsula that offers several side trails leading to a beach. Highlights along some of these routes: an overlook of Lloyd’s Creek, a cliffside beach walk (time your visit to coincide with the low tide), a tidal pond, cliff-top overlooks and a thick bamboo forest. The area’s variety of songbirds, raptors and waterfowl attract birders.
1. Falling Branch Trail; 2. Grist Mill Trail; 3. Whaupaunaucu Loop Trail; 4. Billy Goat Trail; 5. White Banks Trail; 6. Beaver Rock Trail; 7. Goodyear Swamp Sanctuary; 8. Sassafras Natural Resources Management Area
Photo: Falling Branch Trail
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