Covid -19 and the response to it have brought hard times upon real people. The hardest that several generations have collectively known. Routines obliterated, incomes devastated, businesses destroyed, loved ones are sick and dying. We are separated, frightened, and suffering.
The idea of writing a travel blog at this time seems like a cruel tease or bragging but I’ve seen many requests from folks on social media looking for small ways to at least buffer the uncertainty, monotony, and boredom. Just a little taste of control and the enjoyment of normalcy.
Fortunately, within the the State Of Maryland, most public parks are still open for the purpose of recreational exercise and mental well being. We can still get out there.
Please keep in mind, while the parks and trails are open, most park facilities are currently closed. For the most part; beaches, vending, some boat launches, pavilions and picnic areas, and BATHROOMS (including Spot o’ Potty’s ) are off limits. Prepare accordingly, you may need to rough some of your typical needs. As always, bring food and water. Also bring wipes, a sacrificial rag, and a sacrificial bag to put it in. Don’t let this stop you.
AS of 4/18/20 here is a summary of Maryland State Park Closures and restrictions, this does not cover local or National Parks.:
- Assateague State Park: Closed – except boat launch
- Calvert Cliffs State Park: Open – except beach closed
- Chapel Point State Park: Open – except beach closed
- Cunningham Falls State Park: Open – except Houck Area, Beaches, and Falls Trail all closed
– Manor Area, fishing lot and boat launch are all open
- Deep Creek Lake State Park: Open – except beach closed – Boat launch open
- Elk Neck State Park: Open – except North East Beach closed – Rogue’s Harbor Boat Launch open
- Greenbrier State Park: Open – except beach closed – Boat launch open
- Greenwell State Park: Open – except beach and Fishing Pier closed
- Gunpowder Falls State Park: Open – except Hammerman Beach closed
– Dundee Creek Boat Launch open
- Hallowing Point: Open – except beach closed – Boat launch open
- Hart-Miller Island State Park: Open – except beach closed
- Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park: Closed
- Herrington Manor State Park: Open – except beach closed
- New Germany State Park: Open – except beach closed
- Newtowne Neck State Park: Closed
- North Point State Park: Open – except beach and fishing pier closed
- Patapsco Valley State Park: Open – except disc golf course closed
- Point Lookout State Park: Open – except beaches, fishing pier and road and parking south of boat launch area all closed
- Rocky Gap State Park: Open – except beach closed
– Boat launch open, as well as some trail-access parking lots
- Swallow Falls State Park: Closed
- Sandy Point State Park: Closed – except boat launch open
- St. Clements Island State Park: Open – except beaches closed
- Tuckahoe State Park: Open – except equestrian center, disc golf course and portions of the dam closed
You can check the most current version on the DNR PAGE
In this post I am sharing a brief primer of some places that I enjoy, which are still open, accessible, unique, and provide a sense of remoteness beyond your normal neighborhood stroll. I will be adding more as focus and energy permit.
Like everything else right now, restrictions are in flux. Make sure to double check visiting regulations before heading out to any of these destinations.
Fort Howard Park
Fort Howard is a Baltimore County park located along the Patapsco River, just down the road from North Point State Park and the Black Marsh Trail. While Fort Howard has some wooded areas and an Osprey presence this time of year, the ruins are the main attraction.
Several large batteries remain from Fort Howard’s former life as part of a Coastal Defense System. You are largely free to explore them. In addition to the 1902 era structures, there are remnants of a mock Vietnamese village used to train Green Berets in the 1960’s.
Its creepy, its cool, its historical , its photogenic, something for everyone.
Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area
An Oak and Grassland Savannah in Baltimore County ? You heard me. Believe it bub. Soldiers Delight is a rare ecosystem known as a serpentine barren. While the desolate beauty above and around you begs to be absorbed, you’ll want to spend a lot of time looking down. This landscape is born of beautiful greenish, serpent colored, rock which erodes quickly. The special soil of Soldiers Delight hosts more than 39 rare, endangered, or threatened plant species.
Soldiers Delight is also the HOME OF CHROME. During the 19th Century, this region of Baltimore County was the chrome capital of the world due to the significant content of chromite in the serpentine rock. Ghosts of the mines and quarries can still be seen in the barrens.
Doggys welcome but leave the horseys and bikes at home.
For more information visit the DNR page.
Backwater National Wildlife Refuge
Down on the eastern shore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is home to the largest breeding population of Bald Eagles on the east coast. A tour by bike or car through tidal wetlands and hardwood forests will treat you to a wide variety of ducks, waterfowl, songbirds, wading birds, the elusive and wiley Delmarva Fox squirrel, and an enterprising population of muskrats.
For More information, visit the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Blackwater Page.
The Black Marsh Trail
Located on the North Point Peninsula in Baltimore County, The Black Marsh trail readily reveals itself with minimal exertion and time. Bursting with life and only a 30 minute drive from downtown Baltimore — you can discover another world repeatedly. As natural areas go, this is a rare bird.
- Wide trail and offshoots through a vibrant wetland
- Beaver Dams
- Good Birding
- Snakes, turtles, frogs
- Changes rapidly week by week.
For my full article on the trail and more photos visit The Black Marsh Trail, An Effortless Portal For Nature Voyeurs.
For More Information :
Marshy Point Nature Center
Swallow Falls Area
The Swallow Falls area of Garrett County, Maryland draws you into waterfalls, canyonesque hiking trails, a bountiful bog lost in time and a rock maze to get the daily grind off your trail.
SWALLOW FALLS STATE PARK CURRENTLY CLOSED
Though this region of Garrett County is best known for the fishing and water sports opportunities of Deep Creek Lake, nearby Swallow Falls State Park is the main attraction to my eyes. The easy 1 1/4 mile Canyon Loop Trail escorts you through a canopy of old growth pine and rare hemlock. While Passing THREE waterfalls.
SNAGGY MOUNTAIN ROCK MAZE
Adjacent to Swallow Falls State park is the Garrett State Forest and Mountain Maryland’s answer to a Boardwalk Funhouse, The Snaggy Mountain Rock Maze.
Resembling a pre historic fallen temple, the natural labyrinth of large boulders holds just enough twists to feel the risk of getting lost — without doing so.
CRANESVILLE SWAMP PRESERVE
Boreal ecosystems are normally found in the subarctic but due to a frost pocket effect, you must only travel to the Allegheny Mountains to get a taste of the far north. Five miles Northwest of Swallow Falls, bordering West Virginia and Maryland, Cranesville Swamp is one of the few boreal bogs in the Southern United States.
For the full story on these excusions and more photos,
visit the Habitattler article SWALLOW FALLS, OFF THE WALL
C and O Canal Towpath
The C and O Canal is a choice example of industry giving to the people in spite of its original intent. If conceived as a road to serenity, beauty and wonder, they would not have built it. Nonetheless, that is its function today.
185 miles of historical ruins, birding, lush environments, and roaring Potomac waters await you. This national treasure has many access points to choose from, stretching from Washington D.C. to Cumberland Maryland. Perfect for Bikers, hikers, and family outings.
For my full story on the towpath, please visit The C and O Canal Towpath, No Need For Speed
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The C and O Canal Trust_
The official non-profit partner of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Events, volunteer actions, education, stewardship, visit preparation.
The National Park Service, C and O Canal Page
Current Conditions, Directions, Trail Maps, history, visit preparation.
The C and O Canal Companion by Mike High
The definitive mile by mile guide book. This is the one to get.
Potomac Pathway by Napier Shelton
Naturalist guide to the C and O Canal. Makes for a valuable companion to the book mentioned above.