Photo courtesy of the author.
Spring has sprung in Baltimore! Like many scientists, my days are spent sitting in dark, windowless rooms so that the fluorophores don’t bleach, and the mice behave better. I often find myself itching for the evening and weekend so I can enjoy the sunshine and warmth. In the spirit of spring, here are some of my favorite day hikes that you can find in Baltimore’s backyard.
Starting off with a leisurely spring walk, there is the Cascade Falls Loop Trail located in Patapsco Valley State Park in Catonsville, Maryland. At only 2.3 miles and 321 feet of elevation gain, it’s a quick and easy hike that ends with a nice, small waterfall. As a bonus, there’s a creek not far from the trail entrance that people often wade in if it’s warm enough.
For a slightly longer (5.8 miles) but still pretty flat trail (695 feet of elevation gain), I love the Glen Ellen Trail and Sam’s Grave Trail Loop in Towson, Maryland. This trail is at Loch Raven Reservoir, and about halfway through you can relax with a peaceful view of the water. Additionally, you can find the grave of a dog named Sam on the trail, as well as the placards of other beloved animal companions who have passed.
A short trip into almost heaven, wild and wonderful West Virginia, Maryland Heights Loop is in Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in the city of Harpers Ferry. This trail is a little more challenging, at 6.6 miles and 1,541 feet of elevation gain. Although the steep hills can be tiring, you get wonderful views of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers that make great excuses for a break. At the midpoint of the trail, you come to a scenic overlook that makes all the huffing and puffing worthwhile. On the way back down, you’ll find an offshoot of the trail that leads to a rockier section, culminating in a view of the river and the quaint town of Harpers Ferry. After your hike, you should make time to walk around the town, which is an attraction in and of itself, steeped in Civil War history.
My favorite hike I’ve done since moving to Baltimore is the hike to Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock via Hog Rock Parking Area in Thurmont, Maryland. This trail is considered moderate at 5.9 miles and with 1,227 feet of elevation gain. Along the way you’re met with interesting rock formations, some of which you can climb around and on for a little bit of rock scrambling and nice views. There is also a trail section for the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, which is definitely worth the extra steps for a little more rock scrambling and a spectacular view of the mountains (like the picture accompanying this article). While you’re in the area, Cunningham Falls State Park is a short drive away and a nice stop on your way home. On a warm day, the waterfall is full of people and a nice place to spend an afternoon.
This year I hope to escape the lab to do a few hikes like the Sugarloaf Mountain and Northern Peaks Trail in Dickerson, Maryland, the Old Rag Mountain Loop in Etlan, Virginia, and the Goat and Canal to Great Falls Overlook Loop in Potomac, Maryland. Whether it be hiking or just enjoying your coffee in the courtyard of the medical campus, be sure to take a break to get out and soak in the longer days and warmer weather of spring!