From the couch to the trails

Category Archives: Maryland Hikes

This was the first time since we have started on our commitment to hike once a week that I woke up and DID NOT WANT TO HIKE! It was hot, humid and I was tired. Not to mention the list of things that needed to be done at home.

But, I know from past experience that the list of things that needed to be done at home would still be there when we got home…. And the heat and humidity were part of the deal. So the verdict was …………….SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP!

This week’s pick was Jim’s pick. I don’t think he realizes that I know he had ulterior motive but, I went along pretending like I had no clue. ūüėČ

This trail was an unnamed trail. It is actually a horse trail that is right next to the field where he hunts, hence the ulterior motive. So this trip had three missions. See what the farmers planted, scope out the land for deer oooooh and hike. This was fine with me. It is probably best that I know where he is when he is hiking, for safety reasons.

There were lots of choices as far as picking a trail to follow they went off in many directions. Some smaller than others. I am glad he was in charge of where to go because I would have gotten lost for sure. This was unlike most of the trails we have followed before. It was not as overgrown as our attempt at Prettyboy Damn. But part of it were pretty overgrown and there were a LOT of thorny bushes along the trail so pants are a must for this one. Yes, Yes we were in shorts of course. There were many muddy patches as well as REALLY overgrown parts of the trail. I have to tell you I can deal with the mud. I actually enjoy it sometimes….well only when I have a change of shoes with me. But overgrown and thorn bushes do NOTHING for me except scrape up my legs and make me itchy. Another thing about this trail was NO BLAZES. Some of you have hiked before some of you have not so if you are not sure what a blaze is its a marking that tells you where the trail is.

I found the lack of blazes and Jim’s knowledge of the land quite relaxing. It was nice to just be able to walk. I trusted him to get us out of there and that he did….safely and soundly. MY HERO!!


If you were curious the farmers planted soy beans this year instead of corn


which means there will be less deer around Jim’s favorite place to hunt. ūüėČ

All in all I am glad that we went out and did the hike today. It is so great to have a partner who makes you get out there even when you don’t want to. I would have spent the whole week regretting not going if I would have stayed home to clean the house. Having gone, I will not spend all week wishing I had done housework. That’s just the way life is. Sometimes you have to leave the dirty laundry behind and get out there to meet toads.


This is probably not a trail I would recommend unless you have a navigational system or some familiarity with the land. I would still be wandering around in the woods if I did not have my trusty tour guide with me. Lucky he was there and it only ended up being a 3.2 mile hike.

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There are so many trails at the Patapsco State Park we decided to head back and check out a different trail.  Here is a link to the trail maps in the Avalon section of the park.  This just happens to be the most convenient part of the park for me to get to.  So, we tend to explore this area the most.

We actually paid to get into the park to do this hike.  While out on the hike we did find an alternate trail head in a neighborhood close by.  If you want to start from the street you would park at the intersection of Landing Rd. and Grovemont Drive.

If you would like to see the trail the way we did you would pay for entry to the park and then park by the swinging bridge. ¬†We started our hike on the Cascade Falls Trail (blue blazes) we stayed right on the trail bypassing the falls. —not on purpose— ¬†There was an intersection there was a neat looking little broken down building and the hill looked a little more challenging so we took that path instead. ¬†There were quite a few decent ascents. ¬†Enough to keep you on your toes but not tire you out.

We followed the Cascade Falls Trail (blue blazes) until it met up with the Morning Choice Trail (yellow blazes). ¬†It is right after the blue trail meets the yellow trail that you would start on this trail if you parked outside of the park on Landing Rd and Grovemont Dr. ¬†Anywho we followed the yellow trail around. ¬†This is where the creepiness began. ¬†First my husband insisted on turning over rocks to find slimy things. ¬†He was successful in his quest. ¬†We found slugs and worms. ¬†EWWWWW…..



I am sure I have told you guys before that I am a city girl and these kind of things do not excite me one bit. ¬†But, I guess boys will be boys and Jim was quite amused at the ickiness of these guys. ¬†I know that you would expect to see worms and slugs on a trail, especially when you are turning over rocks… but we did not expect to see this….


What is it you ask???? ¬†Yeah, I asked the same thing. ¬†I looks like some sort of shrine? ¬†I don’t have a good picture of it but there was a huge piece of hair on the opposite side of the turtle shell from the candle. ¬†I don’t know if it was human hair or not but it sure was a huge hunk of ¬†long blonde hair. ¬†The only other animal that I could think that it would come from would be a horse?

Sooooo…. that was interesting! ¬†We stayed long enough to take pics and then kept going. ¬†Only to come across a series of old broken down buildings. ¬†It looked like they used to be camping areas… maybe…. but they were a little spooky to see just after the shrine.

ImageAgain we only stopped long enough to take pictures.  We walked for a bit until the yellow trail met the orange trail.

The orange trail is called the Ridge Trail. ¬†This can be picked up not far from the trail head of the blue trail (Cascade Falls) near the swinging bridge. ¬† We climbed up pretty high on this part of the trail but it was pretty gradual so it did not seem so bad. ¬†As we we walked along the orange trail we could hear the waterfall. ¬†We could not see it but we could hear it. ¬†It was coming from below so we decided to go off trail to try to find it. ¬†This meant descending a gigantic hill. ¬†It was a straight hill with no switchbacks so it was not so easy on the toes. ¬†Jim taught me a technique though to help save the toes. ¬†It’s a really simple technique and probably obvious to many of you but for me it was THE most genius thing I had ever heard. ¬†Just go down the hill with your feet turned sideways. ¬†HA HA!! ¬†Genius!!!!

Once we reached the bottom of the hill there was a little bit of stream and lots of rocks and down limbs.  We could not see the waterfall yet but we could tell we were close.  We could have gotten back on the grass and walked along the side of the stream but we decided to try our hand at scaling the rocks.  There were not very tall and posed little threat.

This was my favorite part of the hike.  I have been wanting to climb some rocks since we started but I seriously doubted my ability so I did not want to take on a huge venture with out the proper gear.  The rocks were about 6-8 foot tall and had pretty easy footing to spots to follow.  We made it up.  At the top of these rocks there was a small waterfall.  We stopped here to take a rest and Jim cooled off in the water.



It still sounded like there were bigger falls above so we decided to take to rocks up again to the next level.  Again about a 6-8 ft climb but with a little less footing spots.  But we made it!  The falls were pretty.  Not a large fall but pretty non the less.  Jim said he has been going to this park exploring since he was a little boy and never seen this fall before.  And here it was just a few yards away from the road and the swinging bridge that we have been to hundreds of times before.Image

Next to the waterfall was the blue trail. ¬†It was the part we bypassed on the way in. ¬†It was a very short walk back to the trail head and our car. ¬†ūüôā

Of course I had technical difficulties while on the trail and MapMyHike did to record our journey (User Error ūüôā )

But we the trail information says that

Cascade Falls Trail is 2.79 miles

Morning Choice is 1.8 miles

Ridge Trail is 2.2 miles

I think that we missed a total of about 1 mile of the trails.  So that puts us at about 5.5-6 miles give or take.

If you are hiking with kids I would recommend going into the park and taking the Cascade Falls Trail. ¬†When you come to the intersection with the steeper hill and the old building at the top of the hill go the opposite way ūüôā ¬†This will take you a short walk to get you to the falls.

All three of these trails are easily picked up and easy to follow so you could make this one as long or as short as you’d like.

I started out today wishing I could just hit the trail all by myself but it wasn’t long into the hike that I realized with my sweet love is where I belonged. More about the hike later but for now here is a picture of my rock on top of a rock


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This week I ditched the boys and took the dog. WOW what a different feeling it is out on the trail all by myself. I paid attention more to my surroundings and actually tried to keep track of where I was going. I usually depend on my husband to do this. It is also very liberating. Just proved to myself there is one more thing that I can do on my own. I felt very accomplished after this hike. PROBABLLY the most accomplished I have ever felt after a hike.

I put my ear buds in took the dog off of the leash and we took off. He led the way for the most part….well until he took wrong turns and then I steered him in the right direction. I was surprised that our pace was so much faster when it was just me and Boh. I think the music coming from my ear buds had a lot to do with it. I listened to my favorite bootie popping Pandora station which even made me jog for bits at a time when the trail was smooth.

Since I was a bit nervous about going out by self I made sure to go to a trail that I knew was well marked and I was a little familiar with‚Ķ. So we went to back to Patapsco State Park. We did the same purple (Soap Stone) and orange trails (Bull Run) that we did the previous week. Well really a little bit modified. We skipped the walk through the open field on the ‚Äúprivate road‚ÄĚ and started out on the purple trail. The purple trail takes you down to the river bed where the Orange trail begins we took the orange trail up and down and up and down we even found a little detour over this a homemade bridge over a giant tree that had fallen down. So we crossed the cute little bridge up the steep hill to the top. At the top of the hill if you went left you could take another trail it was a red trail. I really want to add that trail the next time we go out. Just to make our hike a little longer.

The last time we did this trail we went 3.95 miles in 1 hour and 41 minutes

This time Boh and I did 4.36 miles in 1 hour and 21 minutes

I give all the credit to the booty popping music

So we left Prettyboy’s nontrail and headed for a “walk”…..



So Jim parked on the side of S. Rolling Road right near the intersection for 195. ¬†After parking¬†we walked down and made a left onto Foxhall Farms Road there was a sign that said PRIVATE ROAD. ¬†But Jim assured me that the private part of the road began about a mile down and we would not be walking down that far. ¬†We walked down and darn if there was not an entrance for trucks and hunters. ¬†This started out as a nice flat open field and a very easy walk….


Jim told me that he had seen a Bamboo forest here and it was a nice windy day so I would love the sounds that the bamboo made. ¬†We walked up a bit to find this….


ūüė¶ no more bamboo!

We kept walking among the butterflies…


On a little side note…. let’s chat about these butterflies.

Had you ever heard¬†an Irish saying that refers to the symbolic meaning of butterflies. This saying is: “Butterflies are souls of the dead waiting to pass through purgatory” Butterflies also symbolize: Resurrection, Transition, Celebration, Lightness, Time, Soul. There is a small town in Mexico that also associate butterflies with souls. It is to this town that Monarch Butterflies migrate every year, around the holiday known as the Day of the Dead. The people of this town see these butterflies as the returning souls of the deceased.

Well the end of the July and beginning of August is a tough time of the year for me. ¬†Our hike two weeks ago where we came upon the puff of butterflies was the 1 year anniversary of my mother’s death. ¬†I have never seen so many butterflies in one place. ¬†How could I not see this as a little hello from momma?

Well just five days later is the anniversary of my fathers death… quickly followed by his Birthday. ¬†Well this weeks hike was just a few days after daddy’s birthday. ¬†And what do I see a butterfly couple. ¬†These two butterflies were sticking together. ¬†They would not leave one another. ¬†Even when we were probably too close to them, for their comfort. ¬†While my parents probably would not hang out together after life (the had gone their separate ways before they passed) ¬†I can totally see them hanging out together just to say hi.


Both butterfly interactions could totally be just a coincidence but I chose to think that mom and dad stopped by to say hi and to tell me to keep my head up.

ANNNNNY WAYYYYYY….. back to the hike……

After walking through the field we eventually ended up in the woods.  Nice old woods with tall trees.


Then we walked through a field that had electrical towers.  We straight across the field to where another set of woods started.  We saw a stack of rocks that seemed to be a trail marker.  While it looked a little overgrown we decided to go in a bit to see if it opened up and it did.  We followed this trail down until we started seeing orange trail markers.  We decided to follow these trails to the right.  The orange trail lead us down hill and along a stream.  The trail lead us across a few stream crossings but they were not very deep.  I did not even have to change into my water shoes.

The orange trail lead us down into an opening.  We exited the opening to find the Patapsaco State Park picnic area.  It was here that we turned around.  We followed the purple trail markings back away from the picnic area.  There was a split fork in the trail.  We could either bare left on a more flat trail or bare right on a steep hill.  After the 2 miles at Prettyboy and the 3 miles on these trails this last assent seemed like it was Mt Everest.  But it was a pretty short assent and it was over before it started.  Well not really with out a few stops along the way to grab my side and catch my breathe.  We came out of the woods on the other side of our car and just had a very short walk up the road to our car.

This is a very nice day hike.  You can skip the walk through the open field by entering the trails on S. Rolling Road.  You will see other cars parked there.  This is a popular spot for mountain bikers and hikers alike but we did not find it to be crowded except right by the road where we parked.

If you decide to go down Foxhall Farm Road beware that this is an area used by hunters so I would not recommend this hike during hunting seasons.

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I don’t know, it’s like we just can’t seem to get these hikes right. ¬†HA HA! ¬†This week we set out to do a 10 mile hike around Prettyboy Damn. ¬†All of our hiking info so far has come from the internet. ¬†Well this hike info must have been posted n 1992?? ¬†We arrived and the route suggested was not even close to a trail. ¬†There was however a trail just steps away from were this one started so we followed that one, thinking that they could possibly join once we got there. ¬†Yeah, no such luck. ¬†We hiked for about 2 miles down to and along the Reservoir. ¬†(MapMyHike lost us for a bit on its GPS so it reads a little less) Then we attempted going through the forest trying our very hardest to make a path to where the other trail was said to begin. ¬†We ended up with lots of scratches and thorns on our legs and a dead end to our trail. ¬† I will tell you I am PRETTY sure that you burn more calories and work up more of a sweat trying to get through that brush. ¬†I would have sworn that we climbed much higher and for longer than the MapMyHike recoreded. ¬† ¬†I was super tired any my heart rate was definitely up.

This small hike was a bit of a tease.  A tease because first of all the trail no longer existed but also because the second trail we found lead us down to the water which was beautiful and blue and deep.  PERFECT water for swimming in but it is protected.  It is one of the water sources used to hydrate and bath us Baltimorians.

For all of you Ideal Protein dieters I had an egg before setting off as well as a dash of Vanilla shake in my coffee and a Blueberry Cran Protein drink.  I did not feel very strong this hike.  I felt tired almost instantly and my heart was pounding on the inclines which were very manageable.  I think the difference for me this week and last week was that I made sure to hydrate a LOT the day before last week and this week not so much.  I only added a few ounces to my daily dose of about 80oz.

If you are looking to get a pretty secluded glimpse of the reservoir this is a small hike that will allow that.


On our GPS we plugged in the address

2230 Tracey Stores Rd, Baltimore MD

We followed Tracey Store Rd until we reached ¬†Gate 5. ¬†(There is an area where Tracey Store Rd meets Tracey Store Rd turn right and follow Tracey Store Rd to the dead end. ¬† The path to the water is an easy cleared walk downhill and an uphill walk back but, like I said before very manageable. ¬†I’d say it’s about .60 miles each way. ¬† Once you get to the water there are only remnants of a trail. ¬†But you can follows the waters edge for a bit. ¬†We turned right at the water. ¬†This right turn is what lead to the thorns and the scratched up legs so I don’t really recommend it unless you plan on wearing pants and feel like blazing a trail of your very own. ¬†ūüôā

As we pulled away from this hike I was feeling itchy, tired and deflated. ¬†First of all my son did not come along this week so I was bummed about that and then the trail did not really exist. ¬†AND the part that did exist tuckered me out almost instantly! ¬†I even said to my husband maybe I am not really cut out for this hiking thing. ¬†So he says well you had another 8 miles planned into your day how about we just take a walk. ¬†Little did I know what he was getting us into……

To Be Continued……………………………………….

Today we figured we would step it up a notch.  Little did we know how many notches we would actually go up.  It was a fairly mild day so we slept in and got a later start on the trail.   It was so easy to get to to the trail.  I was amazed to know that this little jewel was just a few miles from where I work 3 days a week.  I had NO idea!

We took 695 and exited on the Belair Rd ext going North. ¬† The parking lot was about 6 miles down on the right (Just after you cross the Gunpowder River). ¬†We had no problem parking and the trail was easy to find. ¬†We went through a tunnel that lead to the trail. ¬†Just on the other side of the tunnel you can opt to go straight and follow the river or turn right and go into the “wildlands”. ¬†We went right. ¬†We followed the pink trail markings


up and down and up and down the hill.  For as much of a work out as I did not get last week this week made up for it this week.  This part of the hike was mostly just hilly.  No stream crossings.  The pink markings lead us to the next trail which were the blue markings.   We followed the blue trail.  The blue trail comes to a fork in the trail.  We stayed stayed right.  At about this time I was pooped!


We used an app called MapMyHike.  At this point MapMyHike said that we had gone about 2 miles.  It was not long before we came to another fork in the road.  This is where the blue trail(Stocksdale Trail) met the yellow trail (Sweathouse Trail).  We stayed right and followed the yellow trail.  This is where we got to really cross the streams and play in the water.  As we were walking a bug PUFF of butterflies showed up.  They were flying all around us.  It was so cool.  I thought we saw a lot of butterflies last week at Falling Branch Trail but  that was NOTHING compared to today.


We played in the stream for a bit.  The water was about 2-3 feet deep.  We were disappointed to see that the watering hole that we had read about was so low and was not really great for swimming.  But the butterflies made up for it.

After playing in the stream for a bit we climbed up and down and up and down some more.  The hills are not super steep but they are enough to get your blood pumping for sure.  MapMyHike says that that the steepest hill was about 3.4% grade.  At this point we thought we were winding down our hike.  We THOUGHT we were looping back and meeting up with the blue trail again.  As we sweated our way to a clearing we looked up and what did we see????  The actual watering hole.


And boy was it welcome.  We were all sweaty and ready for a dip.  The water here was about 5-8 ft deep.  There were fish swimming around and the water was very clear.  When standing in the water up to just about my waist I could see my feet.


After spending about 30 minutes swimming and trying to teach the dog to swim… ¬†Yes teach the dog, the Labrador Retriever, how to swim. ¬†He was not a natural. ¬† He was about as graceful as Honey Boo Boo. ¬†He clunked around in the water, we are not even sure that he ever kicked his back paws. ¬†It was great entertainment for us but I don’t think that he enjoyed it much. ¬†He opt’d to spend his time back on the land. ¬†On a side note, we learned today that dogs need foot protection when hiking. ¬†Oh poor Boh’s paw pads are so sore swollen and even torn in some spots. ¬†He is home now with medicine on his paws all wrapped up and healing. ¬†Poor guy ūüė¶


After the cool off and fun around the watering hole NOW it had to be smooth sailing heading back to the smaller trail along the river side… ¬†Yeah…. no such luck. ¬†It is here that we later realized that we took our wrong turn. ¬† At the watering hole we were unable to find the markings that showed us which way to go. ¬†So we reasoned that we were supposed to follow the yellow trail back to the blue trail and then back to that fork in the road where we bore right, and go left instead…. so off we went. ¬†We were just about half way back through the yellow trail when MapMyHike announced that we were now on our 5th mile. ¬†Hmmmm…. that is interesting. ¬†The entire loop should have been just under 5 miles???

Oh well nothing to do about it now but to continue on. ¬†We made it to that blue fork in the road and followed it left, getting a little pep in our step thinking now we MUST be close to the end. ¬†It was about then that we came to another fork in the road. ¬†To the right was blue markings and to the left was orange markings. ¬†My husband said that we would follow the orange trail. ¬†Good thing too, ¬†had we taken the blue trail it would have lead us right back to that watering hole, and I am pretty sure I would have had a melt down just like a 2 yr old if I had ended up back there. ¬†At this point my feet hurt, I was tired and I did not have any water left. ¬†I was pretty close to panic mode. ¬†You see just days ago I ended up in an Urgent Care Center with confusion and fatigue the cause…. dehydration. ¬†Well dehydration and the diet that I am following is a low carb/high protein diet and I had skipped the high protein part by not staying on protocol. ¬† I did not want that feeling back and I was so afraid we were going to have to back track all of our steps to get out, there would be a good chance dehydration.

Crisis averted though, thanks to my sweet dear husband. ¬†We followed the orange trail which looped us back to the blue trail but it was the part of the blue trail that was heading us in the right direction along the Gunpowder River. ¬† The last mile back on the trail my phone died and the dog slowed down a bunch. ¬†It was here that we learned about his poor paws. ¬†He made it to the car though and we were not on the road home soon enough!! ¬†ūüôā

Today was the first time I used the MapMyHike and I messed up a little bit.  The trip was split into two trips and then my phone died before the end of the hike but here is the gist of the hike.


ImageSo we traveled a total of 8 miles.  On our 4.5 mile trek.  Above is what we did (minus the last mile or so when my phone died)  and below is the what we should have done.


If you have small children you could hike the blue trail (bare left instead of right at the first split) and travel along the riverside up to the watering hole.  It is about a 1 mile hike each way with easy terrain.

However if you are looking to work up a sweat with a reward at the end I would follow the path stated above UNTIL you get to the watering hole. ¬†I’d look a bit harder to find the path that leads you back to the blue path….

OR if you really want to sweat do it the way we did it… but pack more water. ¬†ūüôā

For my Ideal Protein friends I started out the day with a restricted bar and an egg.  I drank lots and lots of water along the way.  Immediately after finishing the hike I had a pink lemonade drink.  My coach recommended that I follow up my hike with an absorb-able protein (ie. a drink).  Then had lunch, dinner and snack according to protocol.  I have to say I am feeling pretty good so far.  I was expecting to be a bit more fatigued following the hike but thanks to my awesome coaches advice I feel like I CAN DO this while on Ideal Protein.