Saturday, June 18, 2011

Maryland Appalachian Trail - The Other Washington Monument

I crashed on my bicycle this week and am still working out some of the soreness, so we decided to stay close today and pick up a section of the Maryland Appalachian Trail.  We had some errands to run in the morning, so we didn't set off south from US Highway 40 until almost noon.  There wasn't really a plan.  If it went well, we would hike to Alternate Highway 40, about 5 miles and then return.  If it didn't go as well, we'd just turn around when we felt like it.  I didn't really expect there to be much to see on this section of trail.  We usually save the Appalachian Trail for winter hikes.  I was pleasantly surprised. 

From the parking lot, we headed south, crossing Interstate 70 on a footbridge, and hiking through the front yards of people who live just south of the interstate.  The trail then crosses a road and enters Greenbrier State Park.  There were few flowers; a few Mountain Laurel were still blooming, but most had faded.  We rounded a corner and our first pleasant surprise came in the form of a couple of ripe blueberries.  Soon after lunch, I noticed a few cherries on the ground.  I didn't think much of it, figuring some other hikers had dropped them.

We crossed a power line cut and climbed the short hill up to the first Washington Monument ever built.  It is an odd building, but there was a nice view.  We met a couple of guys in the process of hiking the entire Maryland Appalachian Trail in one day (41 miles).  They were more than half done and looked like they wouldn't have too much trouble finishing.  There is a little museum at the base of the hill, so we stopped in and had a look around.  It has a small, but well-kept collection of Civil War artifacts. 

We continued towards Alternate Highway 40.  At the highway, there is a little stone church, the Dahlgren Chapel, which had white wreaths made of roses on the doors, likely indicating a wedding this afternoon or evening.  We turned around at the highway and began the climb back up the hill.  Once we were back in the woods, I noticed cherries on the ground again.  It turns out that cherry trees grow in several places along this section of trail.  They were good sour cherries, too.  In another place, we found a bunch of ripe black raspberries.  Summer berries picked beside the trail are the sweetest.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 A bumblebee on Asclepias syriaca (Milkweed).
 The first blueberries of the summer.
 Some interesting insects on a member of the Rose Family
 Scutellaria incana (Downy Skullcap)
 Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe or Ghost Pipe)
 A white butterfly on Echium vulgare (Viper's Bugloss), an invasive.
 The first Washington Monument built in the United States.  It was originally built in 1827
 The view from the top of the monument to the west.
 Triodanis pefoliata (Venus's Looking Glass)
A Promethea (>3 inches) moth on a tree (if anyone knows what kind it is, let me know and I'll post it).  Thanks to dhcox for the tip on this moth and the one below.
 Another interesting moth, likely Leconte's Haploa.
 Solanum carolinense (Horse Nettle).  This is a member of the Nightshade Family, which also includes the tomato, potato, and eggplant.
 Wild cherries on the trail.
 I could use some help on this one.  It looks like a Cranesbill, but I'm not sure.
Anemonella thalictroides (Rue Anemone)


  1. We just missed you. Started at Weaverton on Saturday morning and finished up at US-40 around noon today for the last of the Philmont Crew training hikes. Last night we stayed at the Rock Spring Shelter tent sites (on the high ridge). The shelter and lower tent sites were packed (many thru hikers hitting MD right now). That is one nice shelter. All that missing is the satellite dish and Starbucks bar. Excellent spring.

  2. The big moth is the Promethea moth, the other is probably Leconte's Haploa.

  3. @Wild Type: Sorry we missed you. Good luck at Philmont!