Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area – Full loop – 5.27 miles

1/26/2020 – Choate Mine trail – Dolfield trail – Red Run trail – Choate Mine trail – Serpentine trail – Almart trail

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“Get away from it all, locally.”

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Location: 5100 Deer Park rd. Owings Mills, MD 21117 – Nature Center

I like to park at the Nature Center but the gate’s opening time changes with the seasons. Even in the summer it opens late. We are coming from the South (Liberty rd.) and if I see that the gate is still closed (on our left) I just keep on driving. In another quarter of a mile in the overflow area there should be always a spot.

Getting Mag ready is super easy, since he knows a few minutes ahead of our arrival that we are close to the park. Meaning he is already milling around, ready for the tailgate to open. After packing the essentials (water!, chapstick!!) into our backpack we head NE, down on the rocky path.

The contrast between the savanna and the sky is wonderfully refreshing!

Even though we’ve just started out I am already in my happy place. Hiking with Mag gives me profound happiness.

Before we would turn into our first curve, getting closer to Deer Park rd. the trail starts showing its true, muddy face already. We had a lot of rain lately, this is not a normal occurrence.

Getting through the short forest is a bit challenging and I am super glad I am wearing my big girl boots! The mud is ridiculously thick. Before we would get to the overflow parking the trail comes up just a few feet to the road. I keep Mag on a short leash and make him sit to be able to cross to the other side. That’s where Choate Mine trail starts. There is a crossing and signs for the motorists but they barely slow down. We must be extremely careful when crossing here!

After the gate we have a short dry, rocky distance to climb but as soon as we turn the corner to the left the mud is back.

It keeps us entertained until we get to the meeting of the two trails (Choate and Dolfield). From here on we have a little bit of a break from the ankle grabbing muck since the trail has a tiny elevation.

At one point the trail is actually washed away and we have to cross knee high water. Thankfully the tall grass makes tiny fluffy islands for us to jump over the flooded creek. At several points I have to make crossing plans because there is just no place to step to. Balance is key!

This is how my feet look after making through the worst part yet.

Climbing up onto a small savanna, Mag enjoys a roll in the sunny grass while I take some pictures. He is DIRTY!

Reaching the southernmost corner of the trail, where the path is closest to Dolfield rd. we hit another challenging spot but handle it with whit and determination. Now on, we are heading upwards for about a mile so mud should not be on the menu.

Southernmost point
Through the woods

I love this private driveway in the middle of our walk. It is always well kept and full of wonderful, flowering milkweed in the summer.

Private driveway

Paparazzi view of the trail from behind a long leaf pine

Pine cone

Empty milkweed pod

Even though we are walking slightly uphill it feel seamless. I cannot tell we are climbing, until we get really close to the houses on our right. The path gets a little more challenging for a few hundred feet until we reach another crossroad again. The trail from here becomes Red Run trail for just a bit.

I love looking through the forest in the winter, searching for photo opportunities with dancing shadows. Skyscraper trees looking over these fallen trees and pile of leaves taking the main focus here but I love those fluffy white clouds in the background.

Keeping straight down we get farther from the development heading towards the Unicorn meadow (not officially name). While descending, the forest gets totally quiet for 30 seconds. The wind had calm down, birds stopped chirping, no sound near and afar. Eery, cemetery like quiet. Loving it!

While down in the meadow, Mag takes a walk in the creek while we let a family pass us on the trail. Another few minutes for myself to take some pics.

Overlooking a field
Lush moss
Red Run

Cannot wait to come back here in the spring when nature starts awakening. It’s truly a magical place.

We are almost out of the meadow when I smell smoke. It always makes me alert, especially in the forest but it turns out that the smell is coming from one of Soldiers Delight’s yearly, controlled fires to rejuvenate the Savannah.

Controlled fire on the left side of the trail

As soon as we walk out from the coverage of trees it gets fairly windy. It’s 44F and feels quite chilly out here.

I have to mention that we have left Red Run trail and back to Choate trail from here.

Looking back on the trail

There has to be a “road kill” around the perimeter of the forest because there are 4-5 buzzards circling around our heads. They all end up settling down on dead trees just at the edge. They such majestic birds to me. Not even talking about how helpful!

Turkey Buzzard above our heads

Continuing our windy path through the woods we get to Deer Park rd. within a couple of minutes. We cross it straight ahead with extra caution and turn right onto Serpentine trail.

View from close to Deer Park rd.

I love the narrow path winding below mostly pine trees here, until we walk out into the power line’s clearing.

Cutting over a narrow forest buffer we are out on the big Savanna.

Mag taking in the view

While we take a water break we also get passed by a couple and the sky opens up.

After our break we meet a couple of young people with a dogdog and after some conversing we catch up to the illegally speeding Russians on the NW. While they amateurly crossing Chimney Branch we take a quick pass on them wading through the water. Boots, boots, boots!

Uphill from here over rocky surface ’till the 90% left turn. We are back to mud territory here since the torrential rain floods through the path washing down the hill. On the top there are wonderful views of the north side. The cloud formations today are so lovely!

After passing the information board and the sign about the detour – rehabilitation area – we emerge to the power line clearing again. In the middle we turn right to Almart trail and hike up to yet another info board towards the left. The path here is very spacious and kind of straight until we came across another track. Keeping to the left, we walk up to the Red Dog Lodge. Not too shabby for an over 100 year old building. I haven’t seen it operational yet though.

We can see the Nature Center on our right and beyond that, our car. Before we could get to it we have to wait for a family to reach their car first. Baby girl bopping along a huge pit bull! Absolutely beautiful dog! Wow! Of course we start talking about our fur babies with wifey.

Well….few minutes later….here is our walk map. I didn’t use AllTrails to conserve battery power and now I regret it.

Love, love, love Soldiers Delight! It’s an absolute must to visit mud or not! You can tell we love it here, since this is our 4th post about it. All different though.

Click here if you missed the previous ones.

https://magzilla.blog/2019/06/16/soldiers-delight-serpentine-trail/

https://magzilla.blog/2019/06/28/soldiers-delight-choate-mine-trail/

https://magzilla.blog/2019/09/09/soldiers-delight/

Thank you for reading our little muddy adventure!

Keep walking, hiking, running, strolling etc. it’s wonderful out here!

Ta-ta!

Published by magzilla44

Magzilla, our AMSTAFF has rescued us in 2017 on a rainy day in May. It was a rough start because we didn’t know anything about him after him walking up on our property. But he has showed us what an amazing person he is and things became happily ever after pretty quick. He is very social, both with people and other pets. He loves his cat sisters and brothers and off course walking.

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