I headed down to Brandywine, Maryland this weekend to scout a hike for the Trail Dames (of Maryland) at Cedarville State Forest. My sister, two of her daughters and I came down to explore this park a few months ago but only saw a few miles of trail before the skies opened up and we got dumped on!
This is no small car trip for me, 80 miles one way, but driving down was like a trip into the past. I-270 south from Frederick, to the 270 split. I used to teach down here in Montgomery County so I was on auto pilot.
South on 495 around Washington, D.C., through northern Virginia … wow, this part of the beltway has changed. I owned a pet grooming shop in Falls Church, Virginia. I sold it in order to go back to school full time at the University of Maryland in 2000…graduated with a BS in Math and a BS in Math Ed in 2002…but I digress.
Continuing around the beltway, I crossed over the Potomac River near Alexandria, Virginia…Good Lord, is that National Harbor? Shaking my head at all these things that were both familiar and yet not, I took my exit (Route 5) and headed towards Brandywine. Ahhh…I was back in PG county now! I spent the last year and a half of high school in PG county…Parkdale HS in Riverdale, Maryland. I stayed in PG county until I was about 24. I loved the diversity, but it was too near D.C. for my taste. Now, Route 5 maintains some of the old PG county…holy crap, the HANGER CLUB??!! This place was THE destination for many a girl coming of age in PG back in the 80s, and it is still here? I am now laughing out loud! 😀 😀 The Hanger Club has got to be the most sketch male strip club EVER. I didn’t understand the attraction of that place at all!
I was still mulling over memories from my PG life as I pulled up to the visitor center at Cedarville State Forest. They had set up an efficient system for the Labor Day weekend campers. I pulled into an open spot and entered the center to pay my $3 entrance fee.
Now we can hike! 🙂 I headed up to the trail head for the Blue and White loops on the Forest Road.
I set out to hike the White Loop first as this is the 3.5 mile loop I have planned for newbie hikers in a few weeks. This hike wanders through the bog and cedar trees. Be aware that bicyclists also use this trail…two came racing around the bend behind us with NO warning!
Signage overload! 🙂
Occasionally, I like to know how far I’ve come, so I know how far I have to go. However, the constant reminder was a little bit much and even though I wasn’t going far, it seemed farther with the constant reminders that I wasn’t there yet!
What was truly remarkable about this hike, besides the Bog which was very cool, was the variety of fungi present The whole Bog was so full of life!
Completing the White Loop, I headed back down to the visitor center to use the facilities. Wow! Good thing they had the Labor Day check-in system in place, because the small parking lot was crammed tight now. I was lucky to find a very skinny spot in which to park the car!
FYI-The trails at Cedarville are open to bikes, hikers, and horses. If the number of bike racks is any indication, this park is very popular with the bicyclists. Since I had already encountered two on the trail, I made a note to keep my ears open so I could get out of their way!
After a few, we were back at the Blue and White trail head. Sidekick Pauli and I sat in the back of the Highlander with the tail gate up eating a nice lunch before heading back out. This time we headed down the Blue Trail to the pond, then planned on looping the Brown/Green trail before heading back to the car.
Problem…someone was shooting…sounded like target practice. Sidekick Pauli HATES that sound. Her hike went from tail up “Yay! Hiking!” to tail down “OH GAWD! SOMEONE IS GOING TO KILL US!” Every time the gun sounded I gave her cheese, which helped her continue to make forward progress.
Why do they put shooting ranges in parks? I will never understand this. I come to hike in order to hear the birds, see the deer, the bears, the wildlife…not hear guns going off. Now, I understand hunting…the occasionally firing of a gun is one thing…but this constant pop, pop, pop, pop of a gun is unnerving to say the least.
Exiting the Blue trail we headed left and found the pond at the trail head of the Brown trail. This is a beautiful spot! A few fisherman were trying their luck casting their lines from the small beach area.
Luckily, once we moved from the Blue to the pond area and started down the Brown trail the gun fire faded considerably and Sidekick Pauli’s tail came back up and even started wagging again, but her brow was furrowed as if she knew that was not the end of it.
We rounded the pond on the Brown. I was disappointed that the trail was not along the pond. In fact, the only view we had of the pond, was at the beginning where the parking lot is found. The Brown met up with the Green in order to complete the loop. Both of these trails were pleasant, but we were now nearing mile 8 of our hike and my feet were hurting from the constant flat pounding!
The gun fire was audible again at this point, so I knew that completing the Blue Loop back to the car was out of the question. The only alternative? The forest road! 1.1 miles of gravel. Oh, my feet were going to pay for this!!
This was a great day, despite my aching feet and slight shin splints! 🙂 Not kidding, I had fun and it was the perfect way to end my first week back teaching. Destress the mess!!
Hike On! 🙂