Thursday, December 29, 2011

Creature Feature: The Copperhead

The Northern Copperhead:  Exquisite Camouflage

Abnormal pattern Northern Copperhead
This beautiful snake in one of the few venomous species that can be found while hiking in Maryland and Virginia.  Although considered a common species, these snakes are seldom seen due to their preference for nocturnal activity.  The most common times people come into contact with this snake is usually during the spring and fall when these snakes tend to be more active during the day due to cooling temperatures at night.

Northern Water Snake

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Deception and Distance

We have exciting news!  We have a new addition to our hiking crew.  His name is Sprocket.  He is a seven-month-old otterhound that we recently adopted.  He will be accompanying us on many of our hikes.  With that in mind, we will add a Dog Friendly rating to our current rating system.  So many people like to take their dogs with them when they hike and it is sometimes hard to know what places are good and if they even allow dogs.

Yesterday we went to Marshy Point Park located on the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore, Maryland.  It is part of the Chesapeake Gateways Network.  A certain someone told us that this place would be a great place to find salamanders.  Little information was available online prior to our visit but when we got there, there were lots of trail maps and other information about the park.  The trails are all relatively short.  Many have boardwalks to give you the ability to see the bay and the Saltpeter and Dundee Creeks that run through the park.  One boardwalk ended abruptly with no ramp or steps to get you back onto the ground except a ramp made out of haphazardly placed 6"x2" boards. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Creature Feature: Eastern Mud Snake

This fascinating species of snake is primarily aquatic, usually only leaving the water in search of prey or finding a mate.  Found from Southern Virginia all the way into Florida, the Mud snake primarily inhabits swamps where there is an abundance of sirens and amphiumas, the Mud snakes favorite prey.  These snakes are very strong snakes but rarely, if ever, bite when handled.  The most common reaction to being handled is that the Mud snake will poke it's captor with its harmless pointed tail.  Moving from bodies of water primarily at night also make this species one that is rarely encountered by people but is also a reason why these snakes suffer a high road mortality rate.  While these snakes are believed to exist in high numbers little is known about their actual population numbers due to their secretive existence.

Lesser Known Fact: Mud Snakes have been witnessed using their pointed tail as an anchor in the mud for extra leverage while subduing prey.

Blood, Sweat, & Gators: Hiking the Florida Everglades

Cuban Treefrog
One of the most memorable aspects about hiking the Everglades isn't actual blood, it's donating it to the mosquitoes.  While the mosquito level was high, at least it wasn't insane everywhere.  Most of the hikes in the everglades are easy access, paved, boardwalks, and a few unpaved beaten paths.  One of the longer trails on our visit was totally flooded which was very disappointing.

Making the trip from the entrance of ENP driving all the way to Flamingo in Monroe county we hit every trail we could.  Most of the trails were in the sun, so be sure to bring some sunscreen.  The shaded trails proved to be the worst for mosquitoes, and after a few minutes on something as simple as the Gumbo Limbo Trail, jogging was the best option to escape the little flying blood suckers.  You may as well leave the bug spray at home because I think that the mosquito just them laughing at you for trying.  So unless you want to wear a full bug protection suit I would highly advise to avoid any shaded trails.

American Alligator
The major attraction to the Everglades is the abundant wildlife.  Everywhere you look there is an interesting bird, reptile, or amphibian.  There is nothing more exciting than seeing an anole scurry away out of the corner of your eye every step you take or having a snake slither across a trail in front of you.  Florida is known for these creatures, but don't expect them to fall into your lap!  During our weekend in the glades we only saw about 10 snakes, and we were actually looking for them!  It certainly isn't like most television shows make it seem.  There are not invasive killer pythons around every turn and deadly venomous snakes aren't falling from the trees.  

Green Heron
If you are a birder, get in your car, book a flight, do whatever it takes to reach the Glades and visit this park! I recommend to go between January and March, which is Florida's dry season, meaning a lot loss mosquitoes!  If you are looking for large mammals this might not be the best place to visit.

American Crocodile
I would also strongly recommend that when you get to Flamingo to give up the dirt trails and try some of the water trails.  This is a fantastic way to get an opportunity to see the endangered American Crocodile.  There are canoes for rent at the boathouse in Flamingo, so while you are there give it a paddle!

Tailless whip scorpion
 There is virtually no challenge to any of the trails in the everglades, everything is flat!  The only issue is that the trails may test your stamina when it comes to the heat or test your patience when it comes to the buzzing blood sucking mosquitoes.  

Florida Softshell Turtle
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chapin Forest Reservation

Shining Club Moss: Huperzia lucidula
Hike Date:  September 25th, 2011

Going home to visit my family for the first time, I also wanted to show Francis around one of my favorite hiking spots.  When I lived at home, I visited Chapin Forest often since it was beautiful and close by.  To give you an unbiased review I will let him tell you about it.  The area has some interesting geology so I'll let you know about that too.

Baby Northern Water Snake found along the trail
Well, as Ann mentioned, Chapin Forest is beautiful.  I enjoyed getting to hike through the habitat and see a bit of the variation when compared to the usual Maryland mixed oak and hardwood forests.  The trail itself offers some hills but no other difficult challenges such as rough, rocky terrain.  Some of the trails are paved, but all are heavily traveled and according to the laws of this park system, you cannot have any off the beaten path adventures.  Sticking to the trails, getting a view of the Cleveland Skyline, and getting a glimpse of Ohio's nature make this park a great place for a nice day hike.   As with most parks with heavy foot traffic the animals are a bit used to seeing people so spotting some white tailed deer, birds, and a few other local amphibians and reptiles along the trail is almost guaranteed.  Overall, it makes for a nice day out, maybe even bring the family along or take the dog out for a nice day adventure!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trail Bites: Spiced Nuts

So I am obsessed with cooking and baking.  I really appreciate being able to say kiss my you know what to the  mega-conglomerate companies by making things myself.

If you like nuts, I am sure you've seen the expensive seasoned ones in the pretty gem-colored containers available in grocery stores or the fresh ones hot out of the kettle at the fair.  They are the perfect pick me up while out hiking, so why not make them yourself.  It's easy and delicious and will take you little time.

I used almonds for both recipes but you can certainly use any type you like.

Caramel-Coated Almonds
Caramel-Coated Nuts

1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound of raw almonds
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325° F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg white with the water and vanilla until foamy.  Add the nuts and stir gently to coat.  Combine the brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon and mix well.  Add to the nut mixture and stir to coat.

Spread on a greased jellyroll pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Cool and store in an airtight container.

Chili-Lime Almonds
Chili-Lime Almonds

1 egg white
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 pound raw almonds
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325° F.

 In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg white with the lime juice until foamy.  Add the nuts and stir gently to coat.  Combine the chili powder and salt.  Add to the nut mixture and stir to coat.

Spread on a greased jellyroll pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Cool and store in an airtight container.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Sugarloaf Mountain: Local Leafers Paradise

West View Sugarloaf Mountain

So it's that time again!  Fall is coming and the leaves are changing colors and all of a sudden it seems that everyone is out hiking again.  Sugarloaf Mountain attracts many people from the Washington D.C. area with nice views of the countryside.  

There are several miles of trail to hike and all of the trails are very well maintained and well marked.  If you can maintain a fast pace most of the trails can be completed in a day.  Maps are also usually provided at most trail heads and the trails are rated from easy to difficult.  The most difficult trails (red and orange) provide direct access to the east view of the valley.   

Friday, September 30, 2011

Trail Bites: Beef Jerky

Ann here to share another recipe for food to take on the trail.  When I am stuck inside unable to hike, I like to experiment with lots of different recipes.  Beef jerky is one of the best things you can take hiking with you.  It is high in protein, easy to carry, and relatively stable at room temp.  It is however, expensive to buy already made.  You get a measly three or so ounces for five or six bucks.  A three pound cut of brisket will yield approximately one pound of jerky.

I recommend keeping your eye on the grocery store adds for when beef brisket cuts are on sale.  You can usually get a good deal if you pay attention.  Have your butcher cut all of the visible fat off the cut of meat and slice the meat against the grain in ~1/4 inch slices.  You can do this at home if you like, but having the butcher do it,  it will save you time and hassle trying to slice evenly.

I recommend getting an original flavored jerky seasoning kit.  You can use any flavor you like; they come in a variety such as hickory, mesquite but I really like to create my own.  The jerky kit comes in two packets:  the seasoning and the cure. 

3 lb beef brisket, fat removed and sliced
4 tablespoons jerky seasoning
4 teaspoons jerky cure
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water

Placed sliced meat in a large non-reactive bowl.  In a separate container, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Pour over the meat.  Cover and refrigerate for one to two days.

AFter mainating the meat, drain the liquid.  You can dehydrate the meat in one of two ways.  You can either use a dehydrator or use your oven.  I use a Nesco Snackmaster dehydrator, which uses convection heat set at 155 degrees; set your oven to 175 degrees.  

Pat the meat dry and then lay out on racks.  If you are using your oven, you can lay the meat out on metal cooling racks placed on a large cookie sheet.  You can then sprinkle the meat with additional seasonings such as cracked pepper, red pepper, and even Old Bay.

The meat will take anywhere from 4-8 hours to dehydrate.  Once it is done, let it cool, then place it in zip top bags and place in the refrigerator where you can safely store it for a month or so though it is usually all gone long before then here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ann's Savage Hike

Hike Date:  August 6, 2011

After a short day at work on Saturday, my friend Angela and I drove a short way to Savage Park in Savage-Guilford, Maryland to stretch our legs.  The Wincopin Trail-head is off Vollmerhausen Road half a mile from Savage-Guilford Road.  In total, this area of the park offers over three miles of trails.  

Creature Feature: Northern Diamondback Terrapin

The Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is a very unique turtle.  Occupying primarily coastal habitats from Massachusetts all the way down South along the coastline through Texas this species has adapted well to survive in brackish estuaries, bays, and rivers.  There are seven subspecies of Diamondback terrapins, but here in the Northeast we have the Northern subspecies.  These turtles love to eat a variety of crustaceans and mollusks with their powerful jaws which have evolved to crush this type of hard shelled prey.  Females tend to be larger than males attaining a size of about nine inches in shell length.  These turtles typically nest in sandy habitat in the spring and their babies hatch mid to late summer.

In Maryland there are many projects underway to help protect the terrapins native to the Chesapeake Bay.  Many organizations spend a lot of time protecting nesting habitat by installing protective fences around nests to keep out predators like foxes and raccoons.  One of the biggest threats is not just the collecting by humans for consumption but the loss of habitat due to the disappearance of the islands in the bay as a result of sea level rise and powerful storms eroding away viable nesting habitat.  Many of the islands acted as a sanctuary for nesting turtles.  On the islands many animals  that predate turtle eggs are absent from these islands which greatly increases turtle hatch numbers.

One of the most important projects has been the recreation of these islands.  Poplar Island is one of the bigger projects which is restoring a lot of lost habitat.  For more information visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website which has more information on the project.

Lesser Known Fact:  Not only has the Terrapin been the University of Maryland's Mascot since 1933, it was also designated as the official state reptile of Maryland in 1994!  Maryland is one of 26 states to adopt an official state reptile.

Chincoteage NWR: Road Trip Beach Weekend

Wow!  It has been quite some time since we have posted any new hikes.  I assure you, we have spent a great deal of time outdoors, we just got a little bit behind in our blogging.  I promise you that there are a rack of blogs waiting to be written and posted as we speak.  While you wait on those, check out a couple new features on the site.  We have added a LinkWithin widget to the end of each blog that will suggest other entries you might enjoy reading.  At the very bottom of the page, there is a new listing showing this weeks most popular blogs, so be sure to check that out also.

Chincoteague Pony
Mid July, we decided to take a road trip to Chincoteague Island, Virginia.  Chincoteague was made famous by Marguerite Henry with her books about the wild ponies of Assateague Island.  Once a year, I like to get to the beach to relax.  I could care less about the actual laying out activity, it is just a peaceful place to go, listening to the water and smelling the salty air.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Creature Feature: Five-lined Skink

Adult Male Five-lined Skink

Juvenile Five-lined Skink
The Five-lined Skink is one of the most versatile lizard species in the United States with a range from Southern Texas North into Canada. These lizards are well adapted to their environment throughout their range.  The Five-lined Skink has many forms so don't be fooled into thinking you are seeing a different species!  The beautiful juvenile with its yellow stripes and bright blue tail grows up into a lizard with a more uniform brown color. During the spring breeding season the brown colored males show off a bright red head as well!

In some cases you may actually be seeing a Broad-headed Skink which can look very similar to the five lined with some subtle differences in scale arrangement, coloration, and overall maximum size. This little lizard can be commonly found in sunny areas basking on logs and likes to eat many types of insects, worms, spiders, and sometimes even baby mice!

Female Five-lined Skink guarding her eggs
Lesser Known Fact: Unlike most lizards the female will actually tend the eggs until they hatch!


Hiking Garrett County

Hike Date: June 20th, 2011

Francis here to share with you some little bits about Deep Creek Lake State Park hiking.  Over the years I have started this hike by taking the Snake Root Loop trail and then climbing the mountain up the challenging Fire Tower Trail.  On my most recent visit, the Fire Tower Trail was closed so I headed down to the bottom of the hill to hike from the Meadow Mountain Trail up.  Much of this trail is forested and hilly but not extremely rocky.  In some areas there are boardwalks because the trail can be quite muddy in the springtime.  For miles of trail it is rare to encounter many other hikers so the seclusion is nice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

C & O Canal Adventures Part 4: Washington County

Hike Date: June 12th, 2011

So after a drive out to Fort Frederick and Big Pool we did some of the hiking along a small beaver pond and the C&O Canal.  Big Pool is a lake for those of you not familiar with the area so don't be suprised that there isn't any diving boards or lifeguards when you get there!  The area is very popular for kayaking, fishing, and biking.  The trails were flat, mosquitoes were hungry, but that didn't stop us from hiking a few miles!  There were several turtles seen along the canal and we were even treated to a wild turkey gobbling as we hiked along!   Not a bad place to visit but not much to offer in the way of hiking and variety in scenery.

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Billy Goats in Maryland?

Hike date: June 9th, 2011

Mather Gorge

Rocky Section of Billy Goat A Blue Blaze in pic
One of the most challenging and rewarding day hikes near DC is right along the C & O Canal at Great Falls, MD.  If you are native to the Greater DC area, you've probably heard about this trail.  Billy Goat Trail A offers a variety of flat terrain and some moderate rock climbing for a nice hike/work out.  Even though dogs, horses, and bikes are prohibited on the trail, expect some company.  Due to the areas proximity to DC it attracts a lot of visitors just to see the Falls area so our best advice is to avoid this hike on the weekends if possible.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Patapsco Valley State Park: McKeldin Area

Hike Date:  June 5, 2011

We discovered Patapsco Valley State Park last summer in our attempt to get out every minute we could.  It was one of our favorite hikes last year.  So we decided to return again this year to experience it again and share it with you.

Patapsco Valley State Park was Maryland's first state park; established in 1907.  Located in Carroll County, Maryland, it is the northern most area of the park out of the six (The others are the Daniels, Hilton, Pickall, Avalon, and Hollofield areas).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trail Bites: Granola Bars

After not being satisfied by store bought granola bars while out on the trail, I have come up with my own recipe for granola bars.  I have experimented with a recipe so that  With small amounts of tweaking, you can change the granola bars to suit your tastes.  As always, we appreciate your comments and if you try the bars and like them let me know.  If you make changes, let me know about that too because it is something I might like too!

Trail Granola Bars
2 cups oats
1 cup raw nuts (of your choice, I mix them up)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
2.5 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups dried fruit, chopped (I mix berries and dates or figs)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Combine first 6 ingredients on a cookie sheet and toast in oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile, place the next four ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a bubble.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  

Remove toasted mixture from oven and place in mixing bowl.  Reduce heat to 300 degrees F.  Pour syrup mixture over oat mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.  Add the chopped fruit and mix well.

Spray a 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray and press granola mixture firmly into pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Cool granola bars in pan for at least 2-3 hours or overnight before cutting.
Makes 12 bars

If you don't like coconut, take it out and add more nuts.
If you don't like fruit, take it out and add more nuts.
 *Note:  If you remove the fruit, the granola bars will be crunchier than chewy
Use peanut butter in place of the honey

Adapted from Ina Garten's Homemade Granola Bars

Creature Feature: Eastern Kingsnake

The Eastern Kingsnake is a fascinating species native to the East Coast of the United States.  This nonvenomous snake is a medium sizes snake with an average adult size ranging from 36"-48".  If you don't like snakes, one good reason to like the kingsnake is that their diet consists mainly of other snakes with venomous snakes being one of their favorite menu items!  The Eastern Kingsnake will also mimic the behavior of other snakes, twitching its head around like a venomous snake and shaking its tail fast in leaf litter, mimicking a rattlesnakes rattle.

Usually very calm snakes, the kingsnake is not know to bite unless provoked.  If you find one in the wild please leave it wild, but if you desire to have one as a pet some people captive breed snakes so this would be a good way to acquire one to keep as a pet!  It was a real treat to see these snakes in the wild on one of our hikes and we hope to see more slithering around out there!

Lesser known fact: Many other nonvenomous snakes mimic the behavior of other venomous snakes by shaking their tails in leaves mimicking rattlesnakes, opening their mouths wide mimicking cottonmouths, forcing their heads back in an attempt the have a triangular shaped head, and flattening out their necks mimicking cobras (common in hognose snakes).  Another important note is that a cats eye is not always an indication that a snake is venomous (many pythons have these types of irises).  So to play it safe, know what snakes are in the area you are hiking and leave any wild snakes untouched and unharmed!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Weekend Away: Hiking the Croatan National Forest in NC

Hiking/Camping Dates: May 13-15, 2011

So the adventure starts with our seven hour drive down to North Carolina from Maryland.  Upon arrival we ran into a bit of a problem.  We had planned to camp for the weekend and the park doesn't take reservations for campsites in the forest so when we got to our first campsite option, Cedar Point, it was full.  The campsite here was more of an RV park actually.  So with two more campsites to choose from we headed over to the Neuse River campground only to find it was closed due to tornado damage. 

After that failure, we headed over to the Fisher’s Landing Campground.  The campground here didn't have much to offer, the toilet was a glorified outhouse and the only running water came from a water fountain with a spigot at the bottom.  The campground was really more of a field with some tables and fire rings set up but since this isn't a camping review site I will just say that we were able to set up camp and had a place to eat and sleep. 

Tuckahoe State Park: The Drive and Hike

Blue Flag Iris
Hike Date: May 22, 2011

To begin our hike we had to cross over the Bay Bridge into Maryland's Eastern Shore to hike the trails at Tuckahoe State Park.  We began with the short and simple lake shore trail which begins and ends in a parking lot.  The habitat had lots of potential but the wildlife seemed to be lacking in the area.  The short walk throught the pines and woodlands is nice but way too short. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Prince William Forest Park

Hike Date:  May, 8th, 2011

Pink Lady Slipper
If I (Ann) had to pick my favorite place to hike in the area for the shear pleasure of feeling the ground beneath my feet, this would be it.  Not only does it provide a great hike, there are many opportunities to view wildlife and wildflowers.

Prince William Forest Park is a National Park located in Southern Prince William County, Virginia, adjacent to Quantico Marine Corps Base.  It covers over 15,000 acres and is the largest preserved area of Piedmont in the National Park System.  With 37 miles of trails to choose from,  beautiful streams, and interesting geology we couldn't have been happier.  If you want to make a weekend trip out of it, there are numerous campsites and a few cabins available to use.

Monday, May 23, 2011

North Chagrin Reservation: Cleveland Metroparks - Ohio

Hike Date:  April 24, 2011

In all of our excitement to get outside and hike, we have gotten a bit behind on writing and posting about our adventures.
Cleveland Skyline
I (Ann) went home for a weekend to visit the family and decided that since I rarely hike when I visit, that I was definitely going to get out there this time.  Among the many things to in Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs, great hiking can be found in the Cleveland Metroparks and Lake Metroparks, both of which I spent a lot of time in while growing up.  While I was home I visited Lake View cemetery and the Cleveland Metroparks North Chagrin Rerservation.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Catoctin Mountain Park

Hike Date:  April 14th, 2011

A short drive away from the Frederick county water shed is Catoctin Mountain and Cunningham Falls State Park.  Today we only visited Catoctin since we had a limited amount of time in the afternoon.  That is one great thing about the trails here.  Most are easily accessible by road and if you want to keep it short and sweet you totally can!  With our limited time we hiked up to Cat Rock and let me tell you this is one heck of a leg work out, especially if you are trying to shake the wintertime blues and haven't been hiking for a while! 

Frederick County Watershed

Hike date:  April 3, 2011

Rock Structure in the forest
If you are looking for a little variety in terrain look no further because the Frederick county watershed has it for you!  This place, aka the Frederick County Municipal Forest, offers everything from trout fishing, mountain biking, hunting, and hiking.  This location is extremely popular to all types of cyclists so if you are headed out on a weekend expect to be sharing trails with bikers.  On some occasions I have run into groups of 30 or more people out biking here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp to Calvert Cliffs State Park

Hike Date: Sunday May 1st, 2011

Battle Creek Cypress Swamp
Cypress tree base with knees showing
Today our first stop brought us to Battle Creek Cypress Swamp.  This small sanctuary is devoted to the preservation of one of the few remaining cypress swamps in Maryland.  It is a nice place to visit, but for you avid hikers, there isn't much here to hike!  A short boardwalk through the swamp and a few small trails around a field are all that is here.  It is a neat place to visit but not a place you can spend a day at.  An important thing to remember is the areas limited hours so plan accordingly.  We slowly enjoyed the area and had walked from the front to the back within an hour.  Since this area was quite a drive from home we had a back up plan already planned out.

More C & O Canal Adventures: From Point of Rocks, MD to the Lander Lockhouse

Hike Date:  Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Todays hike took us up to the Section of the C & O Canal towpath from Point of Rocks in Frederick County up the the Lander Lockhouse.  Hiking this time of year gives you the opportunity to see wildflowers blooming, and listen to all the frogs and toads calling.  Parking was minimal along train tracks so be prepared to parallel park.  As with all of hour hikes on the towpath, remember that you must walk back to where you parked.  Our hike was three miles each way.

Lander Lockhouse
Along the hike there are two lockhouses.  These served as homes for the lockmasters and their families.  They had to be available at all times to open locks for boats passing through.  While the C & O Canal was only operated between 1831 and 1924, many of the lockmasters families continued to live in the houses well into the middle part of the 20th century.  These lockhouses are now rented for overnight guests.
Trout Lily

Friday, May 6, 2011

Monocacy NRMA Civil War Trails

On Sunday, March 20th, we headed out to do some hiking in Frederick County, MD on some of the famous Civil War Trails in the area.  Our destination was the Monocacy NRMA.  The trails were a bit muddy, unmarked, and there were also some creeks to cross so boots are recommended on this one.  We walked around for a while and discovered an old lime kiln along the trail. After a quick look at this piece of history we continued our adventure along the trail.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

C & O Canal Adventures Part 2: Dickerson to Mouth of Monocacy

March 17th, 2011

Todays hike brings us to another section of the C & O canal tow path.  For starters at the Dickerson side there was a much smaller parking lot than Great Falls but a lot more open parking.  The majority of the traffic on this section was bike riders so it wasn't quite as crowed as Great Falls. The views of the canal and river are quite nice here, minus the walk past the energy plant. We also spotted a few critters along the way.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Creature Feature: Spotted Salamander

The spotted salamander is classified as a type of mole salamander. This is a group of salamanders that spends most of their life underground which is what makes them so difficult to find unless the time of year is just right to find them! During the spring these salamanders migrate to pools of water where they will meet, breed, lay their eggs and then return back to land and move back underground only to repeat the process next year! The baby salamanders grow underwater and actually have external gills.  After a few weeks these gills will decrease in size until they are completely gone and the spotted salamander young will join their parents in the underground lifestyle.

Lesser Known Fact: These little critters are mildly poisonous and many predators that try to eat them usually give up after a few bites due to their horrible taste!

Great Falls: Maryland Side: Old Anglers Inn to the Falls

Hike Date March 13th, 2011

The Flooded Potomac River
So after falling a bit behind with blogs here we are again to bring to you another one of Maryland's famous attractions and hikes, the C & O Canal towpath hiking from Old Anglers Inn up to the falls.  So the parking lot here is free (if you choose to park at the falls and hike the other direction there is a small fee of $5 per car) but space is limited so if visiting on a weekend come early.  The popularity of the park attracts many visitors so be prepared to share the space with hikers, joggers, and bikers.