From the couch to the trails

Tag Archives: hiking in Maryland

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….


😦 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.


photo (2) photo (3)


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.  🙂

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 😦


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!!  🙂

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.  🙂

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.

Let’s just say that our first family hike did not get off to such a smooth start.  We were very unorganized in the morning rushing to grab and go all that we would need (which was not much).  So there was a little frustration there….  But the hour long drive brought us plenty of light conversation and pretty Maryland views.  We even arrived a little early to the park.  The gates were not set to open until 9am.


Well around 9:15pm we started getting frustrated that the gates STILL were not open.Image  By 9:40pm I was on the phone with the DNR trying to figure out if maybe this part of the park was not open on Sundays.  Low and behold 5 minutes after the phone call someone arrived to open the gate.

Finally we were off on the trail.  ImageWe got a later start than we had intended but luckily the cover of the trees gave us plenty of shade and the humidity was not so bad, not so bad at all.  The hike to the falls was SOOOO short and non-strenuous.  The terrain was very easy to navigate.  There were boardwalks, rocks to hop over the stream, dirt paths and rock formations.


Along the way we saw some pretty cedar trees and some other old trees with beautiful exposed roots.


The falls were gorgeous!!  So very pretty.  We had the place to ourselves for about 20 minutes before anyone else arrived.  We got to swim out to the falls , dig under rocks to find bugs and just enjoy the peace and quiet.


We did not see lots of beautiful flowers but there was certainly lots of green.  ImageThere were some very impressive rock formations to see.


It really did feel like we had our own piece of paradise.


Here is my favorite picture of the day!Image

You can absolutely bring kids along with you on this hike.  Maybe even pack a snack and stay for a few hours.  I loved that the falls even made my son smile and clap.  Which if you have a teenager you know this is not always easily done.


The water was clean we filled up a water bottle just so we could see how clear it was.  ImageAfter about 45 minutes of playing in the falls we headed back towards the car.  You can opt to come back along the trail the way that you came OR you can go up around the back and top of the falls and cross the river up there.  There is a trail to the left of the falls that you can take up and around the back of the falls.  There was a fun little rock crevasse that had what looked like rock steps.

The loop back around was a little more strenuous but I would still classify it as easy.  PLUS you can sit in the water where the before the falls turn into falls.


There was a small area at the bottom of the falls that would allow you to jump into the water pool below but it was too small for our taste and not worth the risk.  So after playing around in the water for a while we took the hike back to the car.  The loop behind the falls met up with the same trail that we came in on.  So it was a nice leisurely walk back.

I would recommend this trail if:

You are looking for someplace to take a short walk and cool off

If you have smaller children with you

If you want to just check out some beautiful sights

If you are looking for a work out you might want to skip this one.

The trail is easy to find

We came from route 24 just drive through Rock State Park

make a left on to St. Mary’s Road and then a right on to Falling Branch Rd.  The parking lot will be on the right hand side.