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Serpentine Trail, Soldiers Delight NEA, MD Day Hike

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On Monday, July 20, 2020 my cousin Ron Calabrese and I hiked the 2.3 mile Serpentine Trail within the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Owings Mills, MD.

I was really worried about this one. It was projected to be 100 degrees when we were scheduled to do this hike. I thought about postponing. But the temps were predicted to be in the 90's for the rest of the month. So I contacted Ron a few days before the hike and said that I would try to get to his house before 7:00 AM on the day of the hike. That way, we could get started early and then get off the trail before it got too hot.

That morning I got up at 3:00 AM and left Manassas, VA by 4:30 AM. Traffic was very light. The temps were between 84 and 75 on the way over. I got to Ron's house around 6:45. He only lives about 5 minutes from Soldiers Delight so we were able to hit the trail right at 7:00 AM.

In the back of my mind I had questions. How come this place was called Soldiers Delight? And why was this trail called the Serpentine Trail? Here are the answers. According to wikipedia.org the area was patrolled by British Rangers in the Kings Service in the late 1600's. They gave the area it's name. As for the name of the trail the area consists mostly of serpentine rock. This is dissolved rock that has evolved into sand and clay. It is easilly eroded and not conducive to vegitation. Areas like this are described as 'serpentine barrens'. Now, why is that belt on my vehicle called a serpentine belt? I'll have to find that out later.

So we hit the trail at around 7:00 AM. There were a series of slight ups and slight downs. The trail bed consisted of this serpentine rock. The footing was somewhat uneven and there were some washouts. But the trail was easy to follow. It was also blazed white. We passed a powerline right of way, an open area and then two streams. We were now at the half way point on the trail and at a low point at about a mile in. We then started a gradual climb out of this low point, entered some woods and started our return trip along this 2.3 mile loop. It was still a gradual up. We passed the powerline right of way again, a hunting cabin used by a local gun club (which I couldn't get a good picture of) and then the visitors center which was closed for renovations. We then had a nice gradual down the last quarter mile and arrived back at our vehicles not long after 8:00.

We were thinking about doing another two plus mile loop on the other side of Deer Park Road which was also part of this park. But with the temps starting to skyrocket we decided to postpone this second loop for another time. So we agreed to do another hike together next month, said our goodbyes and departed for home.

There are a lot of hiking opportunities in this area. Besides the trails at Soldiers Delight there is a little bit less than a mile of trail at Northwest Regional Park just up the street from Soldiers Delight. And I forgot that I had hiked at Patapsco State Park, McKeldin Area, about six miles away, back in 2009. You can read all about this hike Here Even though it was hot, it was a great day hiking at Soldiers Delight NEA with my Cousin Ron.

Mike C

Map of where we hiked today

Ron C @ trailhead
  Ron C @ trailhead.
   By Mike Calabrese

1 of 2 Stream Crossings
  1 of 2 Stream Crossings.
   By Mike Calabrese

White Blazed Serpentine Trail   White Blazed Serpentine Trail.
  By Mike Calabrese

Open Area near Powerline
  Open Area near Powerline.
  By Mike Calabrese

Rear of Visitors Center
  Rear of Visitors Center.
  By Mike Calabrese



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