Sunday, March 20, 2011

Annapolis Rocks Along with Everyone Else in Maryland

We opted for a shorter hike yesterday:  just nine miles on the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail which passes Annapolis Rocks.  We met a friend at the southern end of the section, along I-40.  The large parking lot was nearly full when we arrived and more people were arriving by the minute.  There were large groups of backpackers getting their gear together and families headed out for dayhikes.  We kind of expected it.  That trailhead is just minutes from Frederick and only an hour from Washington, DC.  In addition to that, this was really the first nice weekend of the spring, even if it was still a little cool.

We left our car at that trailhead and drove north with our friend to the Wolfsville Road trailhead.  We arrived to a much quieter parking lot with only a half dozen cars in it.  From the parking lot, we headed south, beginning with a climb up to the top of the ridge.  As we got higher, the trail got rockier and we climbed a couple of stone staircases.  In the sun and out of the wind, it was quite warm, but each time we crossed to the west side of the ridge, the wind reminded us that it is most definitely still March.  We paused for lunch at the top of the ridge.  Another hiker's dog tried to talk us out of our lunches before continuing on with his owner. 

The trail stays on the top of the ridge for several miles, which makes for easy hiking since the ridge is nearly level.  We quickly made the four and half miles to Pogo Campground and the Blackrock Hotel Historic site.    The hotel was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  It burned around 1920 (source:  Appalachian Trail NamesOrigin of Place Names Along the AT).  A sign marking the spot and the foundation are the only things that remain of it today.  We took another short break at Pogo Campground, which is just around the corner from the hotel site and that is when the first Boy Scout Troop appeared. 

In spite of the crowded parking lot, up to this point, we had only seen four or five people.  The first boy scout troop had about 20 kids and adults.  Then we passed a group of college kids out backpacking.  Then we passed another Boy Scout Troop of about 15.  All were going to be camping.  I am rarely glad that I am just out for a dayhike rather than an overnight, but this was one of those times.  We would continue to pass groups of backpackers for the rest of the hike.

We paused at Black Rocks, where there is a nice view to the west.  A few miles later, we made the short hike down to Annapolis Rocks.  At both places, we were quickly driven off the rocks by the cold wind.  Below Annapolis Rocks, we began meeting families with small children, which meant the parking lot was not far.  The last part of the hike is a quarter of a mile along Interstate 70.  Not the most charming finish to a hike, but overall, it was a good day.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
One of the staircases leading up to the top of the ridge.
The sign at the Blackrock Hotel site
A small waterfall near the Pogo Campsite. 
From the same waterfall
Bootshot from Black Rocks looking west.
The last part of the hike along scenic Interstate 70.
The Appalachian Trail footbridge crossing Interstate 70.

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