1/1/2021 Gunpowder South Trail (white) – Highland Trail – Gunpowder South Trail – track back
Elevation gain: 745ft
Location: small parking area is on Masemore rd. but there additional street side parking up and down the road
17701 Masemore rd. Parkton, MD 21120
This trails is one of my all time favorite. (There is another post about this back in 9/8/2019.)
(FYI : there are two more trails on the other side of the road.)
The scenery of the river is absolutely beautiful! Today suppose to rain but I am being optimistic to make it back before it starts (weather will prove me wrong). I am not sure who made this sign when getting on the trail….
….but it doesn’t reflect the actual name of the trail. Be careful when next to river, this path is narrow and slippery when wet. I’ve planned to head up all the way to the dam following the Gunpowder but changed my mind thinking I want to enjoy the river’s beauty on the way back. So we are leaving this trail to jump on Highland Trial heading West.
Slight uphill from here to reach the ridge for about a half a mile….
….then downhill again through an abrupt direction change while jumping over a tiny creek. Uphill again until we reach the power lines where winter is more visible thanks to windier conditions.
From here we continue on a spacious excess road, covered in some sort of black gravel.
Less then a half mile later we would cross Falls Rd. but since AllTrails shows 2 more possible trails to our left we go to investigate. I would love to add the “promised” 1.2 miles but after wasting 20 minutes looking for the none existing paths we head back to Highland Trail. We shortly reach the intersection of Gunpowder South where we turn left staying on the ridge. View of the river is peeking through the woods.
In a quarter of a mile after descending again we skip and hop over a small creek feeding into Gunpowder. The terrain is sort of challenging through the downhill and on both sides of the brook.
Several small rapids pepper the creek, along with funky looking small Pear-shaped puffball fungi.
We turning left again when reaching the river, continue on Fisherman’s Trail. There are lots of spots to take a break and enjoy the water while heading North towards Prettyboy Dam. It’s less than 0.5 mile away and is clearly visible.
On our left the hillside is mostly invisible thanks to the densely grown evergreen Mountain Laurel. The leaves resembling those of Rhododendrons and in only extreme cold or drought would they fall off. I absolutely love the small parachute looking flowers in the spring.
The dam is getting closer as the falling water’s sound is getting louder. Even in this dreary weather the scenery is magical.
By the time we get to the dam it’s starts drizzling. Not a good sign considering that it’s cold as well. I have nothing to cover Mag with so after taking several shots of the dam I make a quick plan to head back.
Fastest way seems to be to hike up next to the dam’s lookout – it is car accessible through Prettyboy Dam road – and quickly catch up to Gunpowder South trail through the forest.
Not recommending! By the time I actually realize that the trail is none existent it’s too late to turn back. We tumble around fallen trees and autumn leaves while slowly descend back towards the river. When we finally closing in on it I also realize that those densely grown Mountain Laurels are impossible to get through. There are a couple of other crazy people a few feet from us but we cannot reach to them. Dang. Spending another 20 minutes finding a clearing at least provides me with a photo opportunity.
We are finally back on the trail, moving as fast as possible. Cannot ignore this amazing setting tho, I snap one more pic.
By the time we reach the second crossing at Gunpowder South it’s starts raining for real. Following Fisherman’s trail would put us in danger I feel since the temperature is close to freezing. Deciding on run-hike back up where we came from following the white trail, through Falls road and the power line clearing, down and back up on Highland trail.
I am at least glad that I am in semi fit shape. We make it back considering the circumstances pretty fast, even running into another misanthrope girl on our way., heading the opposite direction. I also would very much enjoy being out here by myself if not for worrying for Mag. At the crossing of Fisherman’s trail I spy this little ceramic bird tucked away in the bushes.
In a few more minutes we are back at our car – her name is Icicle….coincidence? – but still have to be careful since the parking area is an ice rink. Drying Mag is a priority then de-icing the car and finally documenting our hike.
While we get warm sitting inside our vehicle a family of four pulls up with a dog in tow. They spend about two minutes in the freezing rain trying to find a trail then decide to retreat back in the car against the dog’s will. And I thought I was crazy….
On the bright side….supposedly I’ve burnt 1300 calories! Starving tho. Let’s go home and have some lunch.