Soldier's Delight East Loop, Soldier's Delight Natural Environmental Area

Owings, Maryland

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
2 Reviews
4 out of 5
The 2,000-acre serpentine grasslands that make up Soldier’s Delight Natural Environment Area are the largest prairie ecosystem in the eastern United States. The soil, composed of green magnesium silicate, is so dry it supports only the hardiest of grasses and shrubs. A much larger area of northern Maryland once was covered in this unusual grass-and-pine vegetation. At first glance, the rock-strewn soil and short grasses might seem an unglamorous scrub forest, but a hike through the grasslands reveals a diverse ecosystem of hundreds of plant species. However, it is not the twisting grasses that give the landscape its name. The dull green, mottled mineral that forms the underlying bedrock is serpentine. Special considerations: On a hot, cloudless summer day, the area heats to ten to fifteen degrees warmer than the hardwood forests only several miles away. Although the hikes pass into and out of pine groves, offering relief from the sun, it is a lot easier to enjoy the ecology of the area in autumn, winter, or spring. There are two hikes described below, one to the east of Deer Park Road in the flat- land and one white-blazed loop to the west that descends into the stream bottom.
Hiking Maryland & Delaware

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Maryland & Delaware

by David Edwin Lillard (Falcon Guides)

The 2,000-acre serpentine grasslands that make up Soldier’s Delight Natural Environment Area are the largest prairie ecosystem in the eastern United States. The soil, composed of green magnesium silicate, is so dry it supports only the hardiest of grasses and shrubs. A much larger area of northern Maryland once was covered in this unusual grass-and-pine vegetation. At first glance, the rock-strewn soil and short grasses might seem an unglamorous scrub forest, but a hike through the grasslands reveals a diverse ecosystem of hundreds of plant species. However, it is not the twisting grasses that give the landscape its name.

The dull green, mottled mineral that forms the underlying bedrock is serpentine. Special considerations: On a hot, cloudless summer day, the area heats to ten to fifteen degrees warmer than the hardwood forests only several miles away. Although the hikes pass into and out of pine groves, offering relief from the sun, it is a lot easier to enjoy the ecology of the area in autumn, winter, or spring. There are two hikes described below, one to the east of Deer Park Road in the flat- land and one white-blazed loop to the west that descends into the stream bottom.

©  David Edwin Lillard/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Owings
Distance: 3
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Easy
Season: January - April; October - November
Local Contacts: Soldier's Delight Natural Environment Area
Local Maps: USGS Reisterstown, Maryland
Driving Directions: Directions to Soldier's Delight East Loop, Soldier's Delight Natural Environmental Area

Recent Trail Reviews

11/30/2009
0

Nice trail, I walked it in the rain and had little problem with slipping or sticking due to most of the trail being rocky.


12/28/2007
0

The typology is very interesting -- makes you want to read up on geology when you get home, and we saw deer and fox as an added treat. The hike itself was pleasant -- the directions were a little outdated, but still easy to follow; just take a quick look at the trial map at the trail head and you'll be fine. If you go in the winter (particularly after a rain), wear hiking boots, rather than sneakers, because the trail is wet in places; it's also rocky.



Trail Photos

Activity Feed

Apr 2018