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.

Sleepy Saturday

“Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.”

I was telling Mag that I will sleep in. His dad let him out at 5 in the morning so in my opinion there was no reason for waking me up at 7am. He did anyway….

This morning we’ll check out

Lake Roland Park

(we will enter from Falls rd. at Wrights lane – this is the first time I have noticed that the trail’s unofficial entrance have an actual name – under I83 (inner loop))

Map

RANT: (Verb – speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way)

Please do everyone a favor including yourself! If you are coming from North (I83) do not park on your right. It is clearly posted that there is NO PARKING on that side! Because it is NOT safe for you to cross busy Falls rd.! Drive up about a quarter of a mile and safely turn around at the next development’s entrance/exit (it only takes a minute of your life, really). After you have done this amazing maneuver (proud of you all!), please DO NOT STOP in the curve of the road on you right either….this spot is also clearly marked with NO PARKING signs. Pull up about 30 feet onto the gravel and park your wonderful vehicles there.

I have seen such daredevils aka #letsscarethes..toutofincommingtrafficwhiletryingtocauseafatalaccidentcauseidontwanttowasteaminutegoingdowntheroadtoturnaroundsafly (you might notice I am going for a world record here), who would actually park on the left side of Falls coming from the North – facing incoming traffic for a few seconds in an S shaped road – and also on the left side of the 90 degree right curve NO PARKING zone.

NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! HELL NO! Are you trying to kill yourself? Or others?

Please!!!! I am pleading here!

You have come here to enjoy nature, to exercise, to take pictures etc. or because obviously you have the time to be here any given day of the week instead of doing more important things (I am guilty as charged!) Take your time to be safe for all of our sakes!

Thank you!

Caring is totally stressing me out. #BREEEEEEEEEEATH!

Keep on walking, keep on walking….

This trail is always a good idea when it’s hot since it stays much cooler thanks to its huge trees and the Moores branch.

Mag loooooooves this part of the trail under the bridge.

Today we are following the RED trail until we reach this wooden sign

then we are turning right onto the GREEN trail, which will pick back up to the red one but will give us a bit of more challenge (1% more).

It is a tiny bit more hilly, rocky, rootsy.

We have just scared away a doe close to the creek….I have pooped my pants and Mag almost ran up the hill to chase after her. Sigh….

When we reach the RED trail again, we’ll turn left to make our loop. There is about a quarter of a mile with pretty nature art (it’s a very popular way of self-realization in Baltimore).

The trail gets arrow straight for awhile with the old railroad tracks still visible.

This section also gets really muddy after a good rain so be careful or use the other trail on the right about 20 feet away. Even though there are wood circles and planks laid down on the path at several locations, all should still watch their steps. I was unlucky enough about 2 months ago, badly twisting my left ankle on them, another mile of walking still ahead of us. Recovery was more than 3 weeks and it’s still very finicky in certain angles (I have never had any injuries in my life, if you wonder).

As always, today’s walk was great! We met quite a few friends, mostly friendly ones this time around. Mag was very pleased.

Off course no day goes by without me forgetting something, so there is no image from AllTrails today since it slipped my mind to turn it on. I’ll blame my rant for that one.

As you can see we are packing on miles as time goes by. The further we go out of the city the more walking we’ll do.

While cleaning Mag off in the car I got suspicious of a weird sound. Started listening and sure enough there was a bird nest above Yoda. Chicks were screaming their heads off for food!

Nature/animals never stop to amaze me. There is a forest next to us and this little bird builds a nest right above a busy road’s gravel parking area. I am crossing my fingers for them!

Thursday. It’s Friday eve!

“HAPPY THURSDAY!

Sorry, but I am saving my “woo-hoo!” for friday.”

Peony

We are sort of fresh and ready take on today, after a whopping – less than – 6 hours of sleep. I was trapping a mouse in our bedroom – this is a first in 19 years being in this house – until midnight. Successfully I might add (no mouse was harmed in the process). I am still wondering how could this happen with all the cats we have?

I think Mag loves to chase his invisible yard monster because it’s a great way to wake himself every morning. I might follow suit.

Today is very overcast (I am loving it!) and I feel a super light sprinkle in the air. If you would ask me, I’ll say it’s the perfect day! However it’s going to be around 90F today so my #Itotallylovethisday party will be shot down around 9am when temps will start to climb – it’s not my kind of hike – with 90% humidity.

My original plan was ditched as soon as we were turning onto Falls rd. to go to the trails around Lake Roland. Heavy traffic indicated road construction, hopefully at the entrance of the trail. You’ll here my tuned back rant about the parking situation tomorrow. IF, we can approach the area.

So….we are heading to the closest spot

….located across from Greenspring station on the North side of I83 (outer loop).

Super popular park with generously sized parking lot (with some shade towards the side), paved loops, athletic fields, picnic areas and playground.

Vantage point

Total paved path length is .8 miles but we always walk on the perimeter of the grass, to be able to stretch it to 1.2 miles!

Thanks to Lake Roland to the South and Oregon Ridge on the North, wildlife in this area is still very present. Part of the Jones Falls is a County designated environmental greenway.

At the entrance we can take pleasure in walking through a footbridge over Deep Run stream followed by a beautiful Hardy Rain Garden

Even though the park itself is neatly kept, some areas are forest buffers, keeping wildlife around for people to enjoy.

Wild garlic, Milkweed with insects, Trumpet-vine, Sweet William, Cabbage white

Mag had to take a few breaks, thanks to the heat and humidity index, but we made it around the big loop.

Doggone hot

Rolled around in the grass,

https://magzillatravel.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/img_2929.mov

sniffed all the flowers, met new friends – Eloise and Zeek – and set on the bench under a Sycamore tree.

Grateful for this bench

All around it was a nice, leisurely walk.

Map

Back at Yoda we checked for ticks. None found! Drank some water. Turned the AC on full blast and headed back to our shop.

Tomorrow another adventure awaits! We cannot wait!

C ya!

Tuesday at Cylburn

(Located 4915 Greenspring ave. Baltimore, MD)

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Mag’s point of view

“If someone tries to tell you that you eat too much peanut butter, stop talking to them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.”

Eating healthy is important

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Get up, get up, get up! It’s almost 6! I am ready for my morning chase and treats!

Soft whining, followed by licking mom’s hand.”

She dropped a hint that we are going to the arboretum today! Yay! Maybe I can finally chase those deer lurking around in the forest….but first let’s head downstairs so I can bark at Louie! …… That’s done.

Eat your breakfast woman, so we can roll!

We just pulled in to Cylburn Arboretum (I call it sideburn though) and I have already spotted a deer on the right, next to the road. So excited! It’s gonna be a long chase on these 200 acres. I am glad it’s Tuesday ‘cause the grounds are closed on Mondays. Mom thinks of everything!

I love this place! So many beautiful and smelly plants everywhere!

Poppy, Foxglove beard-tongue, Bindweed, Milkweed

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A feast for my nose! We are taking the big loop today, starting out behind the greenhouse and the old carriage house, through the first gate on Woodland trail.

First gate on Woodland trail

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All the scents of deer, squirrels and chipmunks! Wait mom! I am sniffing….oh, fallen tree, let’s jump over….

We’ll follow the sign up to the right….Ridge trail. Pretty sloped and lots of rocks and roots.

A deer, right there! Let’s ruuuuun! Pulling mom up this hill for sure will get me a treat.

We are already at the second gate, chasing that deer sure helped us get here fast!

Woof! Back off mom! Strange contraption attacking!

Mom says “Just the counterweights on the gate, silly! Stop barking at them.” (Laughing)

Since we are hiking the long loop today, let’s keep to the left, onto ETTA Stem Wedge trail underneath these gorgeous trees.

Which way should we go now? Buckeye trail on the right or Spicebush trail on the left? I definitely would like to smell those spicey bushes so left it is. Through another gate yet again.

So nice and peaceful here. Only the humming of the close by highway (83) cutting through the lush forest can be noticed along with birds chirping.

Seed of some sort, wild berries, tall trees, dragonfly

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This portion of trail is a little bit hilly and shaped like a serpentine. Reminds me of Lombard st. in San Francisco.

Reached the last gate taking us back to the park. Keeping left again on Circle trail. Yam….smells like honey in the air.

Blue elderberry

Out of the woods

We are here at my favorite building

The back of Vollmer Center

Up the hill towards that ancient dead tree and the Mansion.

Cylburn Mansion

So pretty! I heard that it houses a display of watercolor paintings. Next time we should go inside!

Let me roll in the grass a few more times and than we can head back to Yoda. And please check me for ticks, mom. I had a great time today, I think I’ll snooze in the car on the way home. And also while you’ll cut the grass, if that’s ok?

Big loop map

Just a quickie today

Silver creek park

“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished…” Dean Koontz

After the usual morning activities – getting up at 5:45 for a change, caused by a painful fallen asleep right arm – we will head to Silver creek park for a quick walk. As boring as it sounds, I have to be at “work” today….

I usually like this quaint little local park but today it held a bit of a surprise when I couldn’t park at the regular spot. Huge machinery occupied the circle at the end of Silver Creek rd., workers busy laying piping in the side of the park. We didn’t get discouraged – I girl with a Mag gotta walk – and parked a block away.

Green zone

Even though we had to circle around to make up for the distance cut – about quarter of a mile each way from original parking spot – Mag still accomplished all his sniffing needs.

Spotted another dog

Hardly, but still managed to walk 1 (!) mile at the end, taking pretty pics and listening to Red-winged blackbirds and Wrens (their song sounds like a beautiful melody) while doing so.

Curious as ever

These gorgeous sounds only get interrupted by the light rail rushing by and neighbors using their lawnmowers (which is “white noise” to me) to keep the surroundings well maintained.

Small bridge to loop

One can even spot deer hiding within the cattails over the little marsh at certain times.

Cattail jungle

There is also a massive (in my opinion) playground if you have little people as well.

Playground

Other fun activities include a chess table with benches and a metal swing bench, which Mag enjoyed immensely.

You might wonder why it took us about an hour to accomplish 1 mile but Mag had the “urgency “ to smell literally ever piece of grass and water all the trees….

Here is our loopity loop

Looks kind of big but trust me on this! I could walk this in about 15 minutes by myself 😀.

So long until next time!

First Monday of June

Leakin park

Eva’s perspective

One has to have well scheduled priorities to be effective every day.

Mag (pronounced just like mug) woke me up at 6 o’clock as usual. He was ready to run downstairs and chase the invisible enemy camping out in the corner of the yard. For good measure he barked at it a few times….

Next he stopped at the groundhogs to keep them in line, and also said hi to the cats so they won’t feel left out (yeah right!). After all the guard dog duties, it was time to get his treats – dehydrated chicken with apple and bacon and his favorite PB smeared inside a Kong for added game time -.

After checking all the boxes in the early morning schedule it was time to get ready for the hike! Headed to Yoda – our transportation machine (car) – to check if all the needed ‘tools’ are at hand.

  1. Thong aka Mag’s harness
  2. Leash
  3. Boots (for Eva)
  4. Long socks (preventing ticks)
  5. Poop bags (for Mag)
  6. Water (for both of us)
  7. Tick jar
  8. Towels
  9. Newman’s treats for good behavior
  10. Dual purpose phone with GPS and camera

All set! Start the engine….

Today’s destination is Leaking Park in Baltimore!

Next to being a great hiking place – with more than 1200 acres of woods – it’s also an amazing place for families! I recommend to park at the main entrance parking area on Eagle dr. off of Windsor Mill rd. Beautifully done with gorgeous little gardens flowering in the summer time.

Narrow-leaf Coneflower

This location is also the place for the first kid friendly activity.

From April to November on the second Sunday of each month the miniature train is running (11:00 am-3:30pm)! Operated by the Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steamers Non-profit.

Every year there is also an herb festival held here on the grounds in May.

The Carrie Murray Nature Center is located to the east from here. Take the left side of the loop (Eagle dr.) and head into the woods from marked path through The Nature Art Gallery. The Center is also accessible by car through Hutton Ave.

Tree art

There are quite a few trails in this park, totaling around 12 miles. I use AllTrails to see all of them, even though this app is not always reliable.

Note: BGE pipeline relocation on the West messed up the Franklintown trail! Use GPS! Also on same trail, lots of trees down over the path.

Connecting back at the end of my usual trail to the Eagle dr. loop there are the original, beautiful buildings, built by Thomas de Kay Winans.

Blooming chestnut tree

Heading out to my car I always admire the Crimea estate’s chapel, which is under going rehab right now.

By the way! There is an electric car charging station in the parking lot if anyone travels in a fancy way like that!

Today we did a quick 1.24 miles, which we donated to Knick Knack Pittie Pack through ResQwalk.

Well deserved rest

See you all tomorrow!