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Appalachian National Scenic Trail – Annapolis Rocks

Recently I took one of my well-known “walk-abouts”.  I just start driving and following any whim I have about the direction I travel.  This being the 4th of July weekend, several Maryland State Parks were full to capacity before 10am.  But a small pull-off east of Hagerstown MD looked interesting.  To my surprise, I discovered the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (nicknamed the “AT”), which I had thought was located further west.

Appalachian Trail near Hagerstown MD

Appalachian Trail near Hagerstown MD

So I embarked on my first hike on the AT where it crosses US 40.  I hiked from the Annapolis Rocks area south toward Washington Monument State Park.  Here’s some information on the trail so you can compare to where you live (I realize hikes in Colorado are much more aggressive!):

Destination: Washington Monument (elevation 1600′)
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3 miles
Highlights: Washington Monument State Park in Maryland contains the first monument to George in the country.  This area is part of the Atlantic flyway and migrating hawks can be seen at certain times of the year.

This portion of the AT is a relatively easy walk with minor elevation changes.  Many rocks on the ground make it important to watch where you put your feet.  Basically a very relaxing place to walk among the trees, wandering through alternating patches of sunlight and shade.

The AT trail is relatively easy in this region.

The AT trail is relatively easy in this region.

Sometimes the greenery crowds the trail, leaving just of hint of where you are to walk.  Other times rocks and boulders line the path like lichen-encrusted guides.

The AT presents different natural guides in the form of plants and rocks.

 
I’m fascinated by lichen.  The variety of textures, colors and shapes attract my eye.  I often try to photograph interesting specimens I come across, and here is one example.

Green and gray-white lichen cover a brown rock.

Green and gray-white lichen cover a brown rock.

It was almost impossible to miss a cluster of bright orange yellow mushrooms springing up from the forest floor.  I often use the Audubon Guides to help me identify the birds, plants, and animals I find on my explorations.  They have guides for birds, mammals, trees, flowers, amphibians, fish, butterflies, insects, shells, crustaceans, and mushrooms.  My best guess on identifying these mushrooms is that they are called Yellow Patches.

A Mushroom called Yellow Patches

A Mushroom called Yellow Patches

A cluster of Yellow Patches mushrooms decorate the forest floor with brilliant color.

A cluster of Yellow Patches mushrooms decorate the forest floor with brilliant color.

All in all, a very rewarding walk.  I hope to try more of the AT soon.

References:

Appalachian Trail – MD Department of Natural Resources

Appalachian Trail Conservancy – Maryland

Audubon Guides

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Mark Bobb

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