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Get outside and enjoy the end of summer.

IronweedWe had a great hike around Kendall Ridge, Maryland on this past Thursday. I bet you have never been there. It was a 2 mile walk – part of the 120 miles of paths in Howard County. It was 1 of 10 walks I am leading this year for the Columbia Association.

The woods have changed so much over the past few weeks. Dark green canopies cover the paths. Noonday cicadas drown out all human noise including the airplanes, and Joe Pye, Ironweed, jewelweed and golden rod offer a bit of color.

Grape.360Part of the difference in the woods or the edges of the woods is the result of the vines taking over the forests. All the trees were magically draped with vines climbing up 10, 30, 60 feet covering trees of all sizes. We saw a range of grapevines (fox, summer, riverbank, etc.), Virginia creeper, poison ivy, English ivy, cut-thumb/mile-a-minute, porcelain berry, honeysuckle, and trumpet vine.

It was a special walk along boardwalks reaching across streams, floodplains, and engineered wetlands. We saw stressed sycamores and locust trees, lots of black walnuts, and a series of dying ash trees. It was interesting to envision what life must have been like pre-colonization, and after Daniel Kendall received his 400 and 500 acre land grants back in 1701 (Kendall’s Delight and Kendall’s Enhancement). The forests are recovering as are the streams and a whole host of flora and fauna, including many native and non-native species. It is a seldom visited path that extends sound from the Kendall Ridge Pool. Go try it one day. You will forget you live in a city.

Take-a-way: For a list of future hikes this fall visit this schedule of events. Don’t leave the trails just to the PokemonGo searchers!

Ranger Max Considers Trail Etiquette – Guest Post

Ranger Max - EtiquetteMax has been a Volunteer Ranger at Maryland’s Patapsco Valley State Park (PVSP) since he retired back in 2010. He made a personal goal of hiking each major trail in the park for the fun of it and so he could advise park visitors which trail best meets their needs-Easy? Scenic? Bikeable? Peaceful? Accessible?

One of the more frequently asked questions is about trail etiquette, especially when it comes to the encounters between equestrians, mountain bikers, dog walkers? The Rangers’ usual reply involves an understanding of right of way and park rules. We will discuss these one at a time. (more…)

Ned’s Top Ten Maryland Hikes

Billy_Goat_Trail_bouldersI have not done all the trails in Maryland but these are the memorable ones that I have done that are easy to locate. Many of the places I have hiked were along rivers or shorelines where there were no trails. Some of these required walking in the streams or in the shallow estuaries. It was all fun. But the ones listed here can all be found on maps and are (more…)

Ned’s Top Ten Hikes in Howard County, Maryland

nature walkWell here they are. My new rankings for 2015!! All are good for walking, some are fine for jogging or biking. A few are used by horseback riders. My challenge to you is to get outside this spring and explore each of these. If you have a group to inspire, feel free to contact me at ned@sustainable.us. I routinely lead interpretive hikes on all of these paths. (more…)

The National Trail System

Appalachian-TrailCan you imagine exploring a mountainous region without a good trail system? It would take far longer to find your way through the mountains or to find the tallest peak. You might even wander around lost for weeks trying to find your way in and out.

Fortunately, today there is a great system of trails throughout the country, and in many cases good apps for finding your way. For the most part, they are well marked and maintained, largely by volunteers. For example, the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail is maintained by 6,000 volunteers in small clubs all along the way. This is true for many (more…)

Lessons from a City Park – a guest post by Julie Dunlap

800px-East_Rock_from_SSS_Hall,_October_17,_2008Most people ascend East Rock for the views. Atop the 366-foot basalt cliff, they can admire office towers, steeples, neighborhoods, and harbor views of New Haven, Connecticut, and, on a clear day, glimpse Long Island Sound. But for me, climbing the stony Giant Steps Trail recalls my first heady night in graduate school, when new friends suggested a moonlit hike in a city park. That dark scramble, more than the starry summit vista, filled me with wonder and freedom as only an outdoor adventure can do.

The 427-acre East Rock Park originated as a naturalistic landscape in 1884, designed by Donald Grant Mitchell as a respite from (more…)

The National Trail System

(Excerpt from Saving the Places We Love)

Maine Geo Hike 1107 023Can you imagine exploring a mountainous region without a good trail system? it would take far longer to find your way through the mountains or to find the tallest peak. You might even wander around lost for weeks trying to find your way in and out. Fortunately, today there is a great system of trails throughout the country and, in many cases, good apps for finding your way.

For the most part, these trails are well marked and maintained largely by volunteers. For example, the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail is maintained by 6,000 volunteers in small clubs all along the way from Georgia to Maine (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/). This is true for many of the trails that crisscross our country. Thanks to all of you who help maintain these trails. (more…)