In case you missed it, in my last post I provided an overview of one of my all-time favorite getaways located in Maryland’s Patapsco Valley State Park (about 45 minutes from campus). This time around I will be venturing a bit further into a local trail that is sure to make for a pleasant escape from the college grind.
Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a ‘hiker’ I urge you to read on – this trail requires very little skill.
Destination: Hashawha Environmental Center / Bear Branch Trail – Westminster, MD
Distance: 4.5 miles
Skill Level: Beginner to moderate
Trail Conditions: Smooth and simple dirt paths, worn-down grassy trails through sprawling fields, leisurely gravel roads. As with most trails you can expect fallen trees, trenching caused by rain, and a few stream crossings. Some areas of the trails are marked as closed since they may be overgrown or in need of maintenance, but overall the trails are kept in excellent condition.
Facilities: Bear Branch Nature Center , bathrooms, pavilions, benches, and a few small fishing docks.
Elevation: Short hills in some areas but for the most part the paths are quite flat.
Directions: Hashawha is located 11 minutes from campus up 97 N, directions to the entrance can be found here. Once on John Owings Road, you can’t miss the entrance sign.
·Birding is popular in the park as there are numerous species native to the area. In a few spots in the park there are shelters used by a variety of birds such as: owls, hawks, and sometimes even bald eagles!
·You may find wire feeder traps submerged in the creek which often are packed full of crayfish.
·Small nets are placed at various locations around the trails for visitors to be able to closely observe the aquatic life.
Picnics and Cookouts
·There are various areas in the park with picnic tables, benches, covered pavilions, and grills.
·The trails are maintained well enough to pull a cooler into the woods if you prefer a more secluded picnicking spot.
·Set up a blanket near the banks of the Bear Branch stream that runs throughout the park and listen to the calming sounds of running water– an excellent way to unwind and de-stress.
·Catch and release fishing is available on the grounds for those interested.
National Geographic’s Alltrails.com maintains a page dedicated to the park which provides excellent photographs and a short description. A quick skim through the comments section on this page reveals numerous satisfied visitors and their opinions of the trails.
When it comes to nature, words simply aren’t enough. All over the web Hashawha visitors have shared their experiences with the world. Bloggers have shared photographs of the beautiful surroundings and wildlife that they encountered on their treks.
With various hidden getaways, flowing streams, tranquil clearings, and peaceful fields –the scenery at Hashawha Environmental Center can be truly breathtaking. Not only is it located so close to campus, but the grounds are expansive and allow for private excursions. The park is extremely multifaceted, with varying terrains and elevations visitors at any level can take to the trails. You get to decide how easy or challenging your trip will be, since there are so many different options at the park.
So my fellow McDanielites, I urge you to pack your bag and hit the trails – the great outdoors is calling!!