Oregon ridge park – red-yellow trails

June 24th

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“The soul that sees beauty often times walks alone.”

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To tell you guys the truth, for some reason I always forget about this park. Even though I spend a lot of time around Hunt Valley. It is so convenient and amazingly spacious – over 1000 acres – within 15 minutes of Baltimore. It has lots of little trails and at least 2 big interchangeable trails. Two separate parking areas – both entrances are from Beaver Dam rd but one is about 20 feet from Shawan rd. It has a lake aka Oregon pool, 2 playgrounds, several open- and a covered picnic area, a Lodge and an outdoor concert pavilion. It also gives home to the Oregon Ridge Nature Center.

The park was originally created on the site of an abandoned iron ore and marble quarry back in the 1830s.

I pulled Yoda in under the trees so while it’s still be hot by the time we get back, it’ll help a little. Starting towards the Nature Center, greeting the chickens, a turkey and a gander after passing the Nature Classroom and a tenant house on the right. Heading into the woods left to the interactive playground we says hello to a beautiful owl in an inclosure.

Educational boards

I love the sight of these colorful trees along the path. They each tell a story of some sort.

When the path splits after the artwork tress on the top of the hill, we are heading right.

Striped prince’s pine

There is something magical about the forest in the morning sunshine. I feel centered and joyous.

Following the red trail.

Thankfully we are never too far from a creek, giving us an opportunity to cool down and take pretty pictures.

The slight uphill will take us to another split where we’ll turn right again.

Educational board about chestnut trees before turning right.

Getting to the clearance in the woods we turn right on the sunny path and then left back into the forest.

At our favorite bench – it’s really a masterpiece – we take a few minute break to admire the beauty of its construction.

While taking this pic I notice a green caterpillar with a face, on one of the cardinals! Too cute!

Eastern tiger swallowtail’s caterpillar

Follow the yellow cut through to the right.

Shortcut through a fern “forest”.

Reached the yellow trail (S. James Campbell trail).

Even though none of you will notice our distress but from this point on for a mile we got chased by a gadfly. First it was just bothersome but it didn’t wanna quit. Racing downhill to reach the ‘run’ through stones and wood barriers was not something I would do normally. Finally I might have whacked him in the head ’cause it disappeared.

We are safe at last at Baisman Run.

The crossing is a bit adventures for people but easy for dogs. Happy pup.

About another minute away we can cross on a wooden bridge. I prefer the other.

Crossings vary every time we get to another portion of the run.

My wish was granted.

I am soooo glad I have Mag with me! He has found a viscous water root….I don’t know what would’ve happened without him spotting it.

Another beautiful landing in the water. So serene. Could take a nap here.

Back to reality. The trail awaits. Uphill for a while.

In the middle of the struggle, we meet a guy (3rd person today) with a beautiful German Shepard. It’s not enough to huff and puff going up, now I have to drag an 80 lb dog with me as well who doesn’t wanna not great another pup. Great.

On the top I have a minute to relax spotting this toad jumping on the path. He was a poser.

Getting hotter already since the creek is way behind us in the valley.

Ladybug on a bench, funny tree, Indian pipes, butterly wing

Follow straight onto loggers trail (we are back on the red trail) ….

….passing by the old ski hill lookout with a bench to take a sec from hiking.

Continuing on the steep red trail we must pay attention to where we step. There are man made steps periodically but still have to be careful.

Indian pipe

At the clearing we keep straight/left until seeing the steps through the overgrown vegetation. This will lead us to the playground.

Walking pass the picnic tables….

….Oregon pool is on our left, with the covered picnic area next to it. Over the water there are dozens of dragonflies chasing each other.

Up the small hill, through the parking area, keeping left, down the brand new stairs to our car.

4.1 miles of bliss. Clean Mag off. No ticks found. Wave good bye ’till next time.

NCR – Sparks rd to Corbett rd

(June 20 2019)

“Go where you most feel alive.”

Today’s “adventure” is starting from the Sparks road parking lot. We are here early, thanks to the heat and humidity index for later. Both of us rather take the 60s. Nice shady spot in front, since only 4 cars are present. Good to be an early bird.

Crossing Sparks rd
Heading to Corbett rd

Some sniffs at the post and then we are off for our walk. The other day we have missed the mile 4 marker because we have turned back at the barrier at Sparks. Well, here it is.

Leaving marker 4, the path starts to turn left and right through the woods. The ground cover here is mostly ferns but at this particular area it’s full of Japanese Meadowsweet.

While we enjoy the lush vegetation and the scattered farms peeking through the leaves, we quickly arrive at Glencoe road. Even though there is a small parking area here for about 5-10 cars the distance is definitely too short to turn around and call it a day.

Glencoe road crossing

We’ll be on our way to the next crossing.

Beautiful old Mansion

The next mile is uneventful and quiet. Not a lot of people around today either. Must be the weather. 96% humidity only stirs the crazy up. We reach the 5 mile post so quick I have to do a double take.

Hot, hot, hot at 10am

Mostly on the right side – I guess thanks to the river running on the left (heading north) – there are a lot of pretty rock formations. They definitely give more interest to our surroundings.

Gunpowder Falls is finally running close enough to the trail that we can see it through the flora.

Calm waters

Another 0.2 up the trail and we can actually head down to it to take a break and a splash.

Clearing to the river through Milkweed forest

Mag is in the water in about 1 sec flat. He is part fish, I swear.

After replenishing ourselves we head back towards north. Mag nicely cooled but I am still sweating up a storm. By the time we get up to the next bridge over the falls, we are hot again.

Through wire fence

Few people are fly fishing in the river, standing on a sand island, one of my favorite farm as a backdrop.

The next mile marker – 6 – is just a spit away from here.

Walking another half a mile from the marker – just after the left bend – is our target, Corbett rd.

We’ve made it

There is no parking here and even though Monkton is just a half a mile up the trail we are turning back because of the heat. On a cooler day I would have just keep walking….but not today. We take a last look at the great old houses here and then head back.

On the backtrack Mag takes a break yet again, ready for a picnic.

He hits the falls one more time.

We come across a lucky charm.

Horseshoe print

Say hello to the three sisters.

Enjoy some alone time, even though there were about 50 bikers passing us just five minutes ago.

We also spot a cool lantern on a tree close to a house next to the trail.

We learn cool info about a Circa 1930s train signal and….

discover yet another cool house.

Almost get hit by a buzzard just before getting back to Yoda, flying above the trail from a swampy area, which deposits a raw smell of death. I have noticed the smell when heading north but didn’t see anything dead around. This bird is proof that some sort of body is laying within the high grass.

He just flew up there.

We are back at the car. After turning on the engine to cool the cockpit, I clean off Mag and check him for ticks. Standard procedure.

We have done about 5.3 miles – AllTrails not trustworthy – and almost passed out caused by humidity and heat. Next week will be more brutal, temperatures will be in the mid 90s. Yikes.

We’ll be back for more!

NCR – Phoenix rd to Sparks rd

“I could never resist the call of the trail.” Buffalo Bill

Starting at this point on NCR requires us to come early. This small lot fills up fast. It’s 7:30 which I consider late….even though it takes us a 30 minute drive to get here.

Only a few cars present and no one on the trail as far as we can see.

Frogs are our only companions. Ribbit ribbit.

We quickly reach the Phoenix rd. W. bridge. Ok not that quick since Mag smells everything.

Sorry for the graffiti language, some people have too much time on their hands but not enough brainpower.

On the right after the bridge there is a little creek and about 40 feet in my fave tree which I take a picture of in every season. Not today though ’cause of poison ivy. This pic is from 1 year ago.

Ribbit ribbit.

There are also a few crows being chased by smaller birds. Probably nest thieves.

Vegetation is pretty thick in June so I can only get a glimpse of Gunpowder Falls.

I also notice, there aren’t a lot of wildflowers to photograph. That’s a bummer.

Even though I love milkweeds, there are so many pics I can share of them with you before you get bored with it. I wish I could attach the fragrance of the same plant. It’s beautiful.

We are walking through one of the small bridges over a sub creek….

and also reaching the mile 3 post.

After this point there are some small kinks in the path.

Cooling the temperature down on our right are stone formations with filtered water seeping through, wetting the trail with its veins.

On the left, Gunpowder lazily flows beyond the trees and shrubs.

When paying attention we can see an about 80 feet drop ravine on the right behind the trees over the embankment. No need to panic! It’s dropping towards us so it’s actually 80 feet tall.

Years ago in the spring I have seen a brown owl here flying through the woods.

The temps are so much cooler here that the milkweeds are still just before flowering.

If I could get to the seeping water at the stone wall I would drink from it. But swampy soil and plants are in my way.

Heading straight ahead, only stopping for a second to take a pic of my favorite stone which I used in the past to turn around when I was training for a half marathon.

At the 3/4 of this longer stretch of the trail there is a house with this cute gate.

Mag sniffed here for so long I ended up pulling him away.

Sparks rd is not far from here after the bend. If we would wanna go to the 4mile marker, gotta keep walking. It’s another 0.2 miles away, after crossing the rd.

NCR is pretty clear cut so our walk back is uneventful. Except Mag getting in the water at several stops….

Rolling in high grass and meeting a friend (cannot prove the later) ….

Sitting (standing I mean) on a bench….

Checking the creek from up above….

Finding an occupied birds nest….

Ribbit ribbit

And finally taking a picture again of the river, while leaving Mag on top of the stairs.

After photographing the road sign….

we cleaned off and headed back to the city.

As I said in my last post AllTrails is not reliable to measure the distance, actually we only did 3.7 miles.

I would recommend NCR to anyone who likes a nice stroll in nature or want to bike for miles without getting worried about traffic or training for an event or really, anyone. Love this easy, long trail close to the city but far as well thanks for its length.

P.S.: by the way….the parking lot is full inside and outside the fenced area.

Soldiers delight – Serpentine trail

“Sometimes, the shortest path between two points is serpentine.” Christopher Benfey

Got up early today as usual. Thanks to Mag.

Got to the visitor center at 8, even though this environmental area only opens at 9am. Since the gate was open we took liberty to drive up the road and park Yoda in our usual spot. Gearing up Mag and putting on my boots and long socks only took a few minutes.

We gonna start counter clockwise today to beat the possible heat/sun combination later on. Heading to the right sort of into an open field on Almart trail. Kind of feels like we are going back towards Deer Park rd., which we are.

It only takes a few minutes and 0.4 miles to reach the ‘outside’ parking lot.

We will walk along the road keeping left than pass the cars and information board, nearing to the Serpentine trail sign.

The trail looks innocent from here….

English daisy, ?, Blue elderberry, Common self-heal, Wild garlic, Pine cone

but do not let it fool you. It’ll get rooty and rocky soon enough on a slight downhill within the woods.

Who knew?

Into the woods we go

Boots recommended

I always feel like Little Red Riding Hood walking through this part of the trail.

There might be a wren living in this tree

Soon enough we get out to the open where the power lines cut through the vegetation.

When emerging, we scare a doe, running into the narrow wooded area on the opposite side. Too fast for me to take a picture.

“I smell a doe” Mag says

This next – probably half a mile – portion is the reason we started out against the clock from where we’ve parked. Coming through here, late on a summer day can be waaaay too hot. (Speaking from experience.) Pretty much no coverage after we leave the tree line.

Grassland ahead

Information board

Views

We were her a month ago and I was outraged that someone started a fire out here on this open plain but I looked it up online and turned out that it was a controlled fire. It reintroduces the process of fire to strengthen restoration efforts and helps rare plants survive.

Before and after (1 month)

There are two little streams going downhill from the grasslands making Mag super Happy!

For about a quarter of a mile it will be uphill through rough, stony surface but nothing extreme.

Hang on until the 90 degree left turn in the woods.

After the bend, the trail turns to being the only option for the rushing water after rain to escape so it is rough at places. Gets pretty narrow and overgrown as well.

That is why I always wear boots. Doesn’t matter how hot it gets. Anywhere we go mud, rocks, roots, bugs, rivers can happen. And ankle twists – when wearing running shoes. Live and learn.

We are out in the open grasslands again. If we look over the plain, we might see other people where we have been 30 minutes ago walking either direction.

Up ahead the trail is being rerouted to save some of the vegetation from us hikers. Following the sign to left at the fence, walking through again the narrow patch of woods we end up being under the power lines once again.

Continuing across into the tree line….

we will soon reach the Red Dog Lodge….

and to the left on the trail the Visitor Center….

and the parking lot with Yoda!

Yay! We have survived another adventure!

So as it turns out AllTrails GPS system is not so reliable. It cheats about 0.15 miles / every mile, counting more than we actually do. Doesn’t seem too bad until we are doing way more than just a few miles per occasion.

Until next time.

Leakin Park II

“It’s all about convenience. You have remote access to everything.” Kevin Marquess

Convenience = location close to home won out today.

We have parked at the main parking area again on Eagle dr.

There is a little path from here on the left side of the tennis courts.

But we are not going to use it today since they are still working on the BGE pipeline and it’s cutting through this little path. Looks quaint though.

Keeping on the left side of the loop like last time, we’ll go through this natural tunnel of branches.

This is the portion of the path with all the nature art displays. Nature inspired self-expression is very popular in Baltimore. I have seen art in the woods at several locations around here.

Nature art

At the wooden sign we keep left towards the Nature Center, keeping an eye out for all the critters we might come across.

Jane doe

At the end we turn right still heading towards the Nature Center. When reaching the praying mantis and the squirrel,

– cutting through the grass – “skulking” behind the building, searching for the direction post. There it is!

This track will lead us to the elevated wooden plank path through a green passageway.

Here we go!

It is the perfect height from the shallow swamp floor.

At the end of this portion of Wetland trail we end up on paved Hutton ave. Turning right onto Hutton, watch for traffic! This road right now has a lot of heavy load vehicles. When reached Wetheredsville rd. (next paved road across) we need to look for the trail sign to the right at the edge of the woods.

We are walking slightly uphill from here into the woods, following the blue diamonds painted on trees. Periodically crossing over wooden paths to elevate us from mud and wetland.

It’s good to keep an eye out for animals – mostly deer and birds – and awesome nature built structures….

Heading downhill now, it feels like we are in the middle of nowhere. Feels so remote even though we are in the city. I can hear the rushing water of Gwynn’s Falls and Dead run branch.

Pass the sign that says Ridge trail until the next one at the bottom. We will follow Stream trail this time around, almost immediately getting a look at the creek.

Over a hundred years old wall structure growing out of the water giving home to moss and fern. We spotted a Great blue heron gliding above the water looking for a nice landing spot but seeing us he kept going (🙁).

Around here – the water being so close – gets really muddy after a nice rainfall so I always recommend to wear boots and watch your steps! Feeling the remoteness of these woods also reminds me of warning you, that there are not a lot of people around. I haven’t seen anybody today so far since we have parked the car. Always tell someone where you are going and be safe!

While I was running my mouth we have reached the bridge at the bicycle path. Keep right on the paved road.

First time since we started out that there are some sign of life. Construction work noise cuts through the trees, coming from the little South located parking area. Dead run branch is almost running dry here or maybe its bed is just oversized.

Unfortunately the trail here looks in despair and abandoned even though the parking area is well kept on the other side of the water. I particularly like the bridge with its pretty railing. Looks old age quality work. Must have been a beautiful area back in the days.

We are stumbling over broken pavement pieces here, heading towards yet another sign….

and still to the right towards one of the history boards….

and a little further up to the Picnic grove.

Keeping right, walking through the little wooden bridge….

onto Ravine trail on top of the stone ruins.

From this point it slightly uphill. We’ll take Old Fort trail towards the Mansion.

This uphill hike feels good. Gets my old body’s juices flowing. Good to have Mag pulling me upwards a bit though. I have caught so many spiderwebs I probably look like a cotton candy.

Mossy old wood, ruins, Paulownia tomentosa, spider

Keep heading towards the Mansion to make our loop.

Right….I can tell we had good rain recently because the trail is washed out a little bit. Looking up though I rather marvel at the huge tulip trees. They are amazing!

To the right again….up to the parked cars.

Yay! Got to Orianda Mansion.

Reaching Eagle dr. we can head either way but we will turn left to face incoming traffic on this one way loop. I like to see if cars are coming even though there are not too many of them. Two of the original buildings are this way. One is the honeymoon cottage the other is the carriage house with a new extension. All of the buildings are used by the Outward Bound School.

Details of the carriage house

I love looking at the blooming chestnut trees, their flowers reminding me of fireworks. Their fragrance is pretty spectacular too.

Leaving the trees there is a weird structure close to the tree line. It’s some sort of exercise contraption for the outbound school. I have yet to see anyone on it….

Few hundred feet from the parking lot on the left is the Baltimore city bike unit’s station but on the right is the beautiful Winans chapel. It is under construction at the moment but I hope they will do justice to this amazing little building when finished.

We are almost back at the car, passing by the playground and the tennis courts.

Rounding up our walk today at 2.7 miles we are back at Yoda, patiently waiting for us.

Solituday

NCR trail – Paper Mill rd to Phoenix rd

Love the sight of an almost empty parking lot on a Sunday morning. Thanks to the dreary weather today, people stayed in bed I guess.

This is sort of the beginning of NCR. The main parking lot is on the left side on Paper Mill rd. coming from Hunt Valley. However the 0 mile marker is about a half a mile further down on NCR towards the city – after crossing Paper Mill by foot – at Ashland rd. Parking is very limited, no sense even trying, except being dropped off.

Having a goal of completing the about 20 mile distance in MD and the additional 20 in PA from the beginning of NCR I still would park at the main parking area, walk back to warm up to the 0 mile and start my journey like that. Just an idea.

This is my version of solitude. No one’s on the trail for a half a mile behind or before us. Beautiful. Just Mag and me.

Definitely best to come in the morning, perhaps before 9am. On the weekends even earlier. Close proximity to Hunt Valley makes this location highly popular.

This Lime Kiln in the hillside was probably constructed in the late 1800’s.

We have just reached the 1 mile marker, before the bridge and it starts to sprinkle.

I hope it won’t become a bigger problem ’cause Mag is not a fan of getting wet. Soaked is not even an option.

I recall one day in our evening walk in our neighborhood. It started to pour without giving us a fair warning – overcast doesn’t always mean rain -. Mag had scooted under someone’s overgrown front foliage, pulling me with him. Not that it was good coverage. We were still getting soaked just not from direct rain. A neighbor driving by offered to take us home – two blocks away – but I rejected, thinking of her car getting dirty. I ended up pull-running (nice ring to a new Olympic sport) Mag home which must have been a sight.

Gunpowder Falls

Passing the bridge and yet again, like so many times, I can hear the elusive Pileated woodpecker’s laugh. It just took off from the tree above us, crossing the river. Bummer…. I don’t think I will be able to take a good pic of them….like ever!

I think he is laughing at me! Flew right back, landing on a tree above our heads. I can actually hear several of them in a few hundred feet radius. I am the laughing stock of woodpeckers. I still love these creatures though.

Corn chamomile, Red-bud leaf, dewy leaf, Yarrow

Walking pass the floodplain we can hear toads conversing about life. Mag finds their ribbiting rather amusing, freezes in deep concentration, trying to figure out what alien sound that could be.

Dame’s rocket, mossy twig, Hydrangea, Rose meadowsweet

By the time we reach the little rest area at mile 2 the rain let’s off a bit so I can take some nice pics of the flowing river. We made our loop for today so will be heading back. (Next time around we’ll be parking here, heading towards Monkton.)

Steps are slippery when wet!

Though the frogs are still super interesting on the way back, movement from the other shore is even more engaging. Mag has spotted a Canadian geese family with at least five chicks taking a break at the edge of the water. The chicks totally blend in with their surroundings, only the parents white head-markings visible – not on the photo though. (Where is Waldo? – see that circled black line in the middle? That’s momma perhaps. Babies towards the left from her.)

Continuing our walk I notice, it feels hot and humid but at the same time caused by the light drizzle, chilly as well. Such a weird feeling….

Driftwood overload under the bridge

These little creatures are also on the move, amusing Mag endlessly. The orange slug is the only one we come across from the gastropod family but plenty of tiny frogs crossing the path coming from the river. We save as many as we can mostly from bikers.

So I have counted 10 people all together this morning on the trail. Highly unusual thanks for the rain Even that parking lot has only a handful of cars.

We got super lucky. As soon as we get to the car it starts pouring again. Mag is pooped, even though we have only done 3.3 miles.

It’s time to clean him off and check for ticks.

He is falling asleep already….

Our drive home is about 30 minutes so he’ll have a little time to snooze.

Funny enough at the end of our driveway, after coming back from the wilderness 😻 this is what greets us….

That’s city living in Baltimore!

NCR – Freeland to McCullough

(North Central Railroad trail AKA Torrey C. Brown Rail trail)

This is the first of several NCR walks we’ll do and one of my favorites. About a 20 minute drive on I83 north from Hunt Valley. Far enough from the city that most people don’t bother coming up this far. Parking area is on Freeland road – west of 83 – off of the Maryland line exit.

Parking is pretty spacious, however I have never seen more than 10-15 cars here at a time. Other great thing about this spot – on NCR – that there is a “restroom” other than those awful portable toilets. It’s an actual building with composting toilets, kept pretty clean and gender segregated (close the lid after you are done).

We are only the second car here, even though it’s almost 8 am. The weather is also in our favor today, a nice, breezy 66F. I love coming out here early in the morning. I wish I could get paid for walking around in nature with Mag, taking pictures. I wish, I wish, upon a star…. or maybe this Black-Winged Damselfly.

Sweet honeysuckle filling the air with its narcotic scent.

Tiny yellow leaves are trickling down from above, making me feel like I am in a fairytale. A Red- bellied woodpecker almost takes my bangs off, then lands on a dead tree.

I’ve spotted 2 or 3 bigger nests close to the trail but I am not sure what type of birds occupies them. They are definitely not squirrel’s because no leaves are present just twigs.

One mile from the PA line

We are approaching the little organic farm on the right with the Little Free Library. It’s a birdfeeder- sized house-shaped structure where people leave books for others to take. I have had exchanged many books here since it’s appearance.

Little bit further up there is the house of cats. Every time we pass by here there are cats on the little embankment, playing or sitting on trees. This time they are snoozing, scattered haphazardly in the greenery.

We have just arrived at Oakland rd., crossing over it.

Which reminds me to warn you guys of poison ivy! It is unfortunately everywhere! I am allergic to it so I don’t let Mag in it if I can help it. It only disappears for a few hundred feet when we get to the rocky part of the trail after this little creek.

Our view, approaching the PA (Pennsylvania) line.

Great info here of our whereabouts….

and a nice little dipping spot for Mag (video will play horizontally).

As you see I have crossed the creek and will continue in the grass until Orwig rd. (few hundred feet).

AND this is where the most interesting and loved part of trail is for Mag! The horse farm!

Except the horses are MIA today. This has never happened before. I don’t know if they are inside or just traveling? Mag is super confused and do not wanna believe his eyes!

We will continue towards New Freedom hoping on the way back they will be outside.

From here on, the old railroad track is still visible. We reach McCullough ave. in about 15 minutes and turn around (at the 1 mile mark from the MD/PA line) after chatting with new friends and their dogs.

Off course Mag must stop in the mud pit, since he is a Pig Bull.

Unfortunately the horses were still missing so he opted to roll in high grass instead of crying himself to sleep….

There is a roofed picnic table on the right about a quarter of a mile before we would get back to our parked car – Yoda – and there is a small path down to the creek. One last dip and he’ll be sleeping for the rest of the day.

Sorry, I guess I have turned my camera….

5 minutes later we are back at the car, cleaning off Mr. Piglet

Heading home the long way, ’cause it’s Sunday and we have nothing else to do!

Both my mileage trackers stopped working while out so I cannot share pic of route but we did 4.7 miles.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Thank you for reading our little stories.