Hiking Maryland & Delaware
by David Edwin Lillard (Falcon Guides)
© David Edwin Lillard/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
I just finished one of the best hikes I've had in a while. Near the start I passed another hiker. We traded silent waves, and as soon as I'd walked another 200 feet a deer crossed in front of me. That was the tone for the hike - very few humans, and very quiet (until the very end).
The trails were *very* well marked. Hurricane Irene left a number of trees hinged over and some down on the trail. There were a few diversions and a few mud holes after all the rain from TS Lee; but it was still quite navigable while impeding the bikers - I saw none.
The path along the river was nice with the river in sight to the right. Keep moving or apply mosquito repellent. Otherwise, if you stop to take a picture, they're coming in for a hot landing on the carrier!
When the trail along the river turns back in a hairpin turn, I kept going straight 0.3 miles (per the county sign) hoping to see something. Don't bother. I either missed the "Keep Out" signs, or they weren't posted (I wasn't on a dirt road like the guide mentions). I came up on "civilization" and a tree stand ... I'm just glad it wasn't deer season.
It was a nice mix of open forest and river side terrain. I'll go back and trek the other trails soon, especially in the fall.
We decided to do the trail that loops to the east of the river (starting from Savage). The entire trail is tarred. We tried to go off the trail through the woods but most of the trail was unmarked and there were not blazes to guide you. The mosquitos were horrible too. Not a great experience. Will likely try the trails for the other end and see if it's any better.
I enjoyed this hike in early May of 2009 while scouting new trails for my hiking group. I have hiked three different hikes in this park posted on hikes.com. As with ALL of the hikes in this park on their website,there were several mistakes regarding where to turn on the well manicured and freshly blazed trails. I believe this is possibly due to outdated source material as I saw a newer version of the book at a store that showed the correct path. However, don't let this discourage you from hiking this area as it is easy enough to remedy using the map in the kiosk at the trailhead or taking the Topo map with you, so just a heads up. Unfortunately, this hike was impossible to follow for this veteran hiker until I returned with the new book, so I am unable to give the described hike high marks due to too many errors (this is the exception to the rule for trails.com as after 100's of hikes I can say they are usually dead on). However, the trail is spectacular! It is hard to believe that you are near the city on this hike as you hear the babbling streams almost the entire hike. I lead groups of hikers on an average of 9 hikes every week so I am pretty hard to please, so I am speaking from a lot of experience when I say that this hike is very good and probably an enjoyable hike for almost everyone. There was not a lot of traffic on the trail which was a plus! Even a newbie to hiking will be able to follow these mulched trails and the blazed on the trees were very fresh the day I visited and they practically jump right out at you. This hike has a "mall" very nearby (walkable) that was converted from an old school which is worth a visit after your hike. There is a fantastic Irish Pub there and the building is very historical and rich with information on the area. I also enjoyed fantastic fishing in the two rivers that you hike along on this trek.
The parking lot here was recently resurfaced and a new fence and bulletin board were installed. The trails of Wincopin are very nice, winding along the ridges and down along the Little and Middle Patuxent Rivers. A new trail was added last year, a white blazed trail that goes North West along the Middle Patuxent river and terminates at Murray Hill Road. This new trail climbs along the ridges thus avoiding the often muddy service road along the river's edge. Many deer, foxes, black squirrels, are seen year round. The down side is that maintenance of these trails by Howard County Parks is unfortunately not very good. The trails are poorly blazed and in need of maintenance. Deer hunters frequently hunt in the park during the season and someone is running a quad bike on one of the trails. This is unfortunate as the park has great potential. Nice for a quiet Sunday afternoon's walk in the woods.
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