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Gunpowder Falls SP, MD between PBD & York RD Day Hike


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This 10 mile series of circuit hikes took place on Wednesday, December 26, 2001. I left Manassas, VA at around 4:45AM for the long drive to Hempstead, MD. At the McDonalds in Hempstead I met Frank Maida around 7:15AM and we had breakfast. Then, after a few wrong turns, we made it to the Masemore RD parking area at around 8:45AM where we would start the hike. Waiting for us there were Terri Moore, her dog Gurtie and her niece Alexis.

The Gunpowder Falls area was very scenic. The "Falls" is really a creek. We did not have a strict itinerary. I said that we would hike whatever the majority wanted to do.

So we started out at about 9AM for about .1 miles along the Gunpowder South Trail. Then we turned left and did the semi-circle shaped 1 mile Highlander Trail, which took us up a ridge, down to a Cabin Run, up again and across a power line. We then traversed some nice level forest, descended and then intersected the Gunpowder South Trail again.

Since we saw Pretty Boy Dam while descending the Highlander Trail, we decided to hike the Gunpowder South Trail about a mile west to it. The dam was massive. There was a single vertical geyser of water coming out of the middle of the dam near the bottom of it. Terri and Alexis hiked the Gunpowder South Trail up to a staircase that went up to Pretty Boy Dam RD. Frank & I stayed at the bottom. I forgot to buy film with the busy Christmas rush so I couldn't take any pictures of this very scenic area.

We then backtracked the mile to the Highlander Trail Intersection and continued east on the Gunpowder South Trail for about 2 miles. This stretch of trail was very rocky and would leave the creek, go straight up the surrounding hillside, then come right back down again to avoid impassable rock formations closer to the creek.

After doing this a couple of times we passed Falls RD and then got back to Masemore RD after having done about a 6 mile loop. It was about 11:30AM. We sat and had a snack at our cars. I then asked if anyone wanted to quit or do another 4 mile loop comprised of the Gunpowder South to York RD and the Gunpowder North Trails. Everyone was game so we set off.

I forgot to mention that the weather was cold that day. It was sunny but the temps hovered between 35 and 42 degrees the entire day. We had to keep adding and subtracting layers of coats, hats and gloves in order to stay comfortable.

We did more ups and downs, crossed Bunker Hill RD where there was a nice picnic area and a new comfort station, then crossed under I83 and then got to York RD.

Here's where it got tricky. We had to walk about 250 feet north along busy and narrow York RD to get to the other side of Gunpowder Falls and start back along the Gunpowder North Trail. It was scary but we did it.

The Gunpowder North Trail was nice and level and, unlike the Gunpowder South Trail, very easy to hike along. We did the 2-3 miles back, under I83, past Bunker Hill RD and finally back to our cars and the end of the hikearound 2:30PM. According to the maps we had hiked 9.7 miles. However, we all agreed that it felt more like 11-12.

Alexis did very well considering this was her first day hike. I felt that the length of the combinations that we did were about right. This was a very enjoyable day hike. There are a number of sections of this trail between Pretty Boy Dam and Baltimore, MD that one can hike. I think that I may have to hike the rest of these sections as an annual post Christmas day hike until they are all completed!

Mike C


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