Sunday, September 18, 2011

Maryland Appalachian Trail: PenMar, Devil's Race Course, and Raven Rocks

Before yesterday, we only had two more sections of the Maryland Appalachian Trail (AT) to hike and we would have completed the state.  Yesterday, we picked up the section from PenMar, on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, to Wolfsville Rd, 10 miles south.  There is a nice little park on the border, which is also the Mason-Dixon line.  From the park, heading south, the first 2.5 miles are an easy ramble through the woods.  Mushrooms are still popping up all over the place and there are a few hardy late summer flowers blooming.

At around 2.5 miles, we started the climb up to High Rock.  The trail turned much rockier and steeper.  We scrambled up and through rock fields between white blazes painted on rocks instead of trees.  We took the short loop out to the view at High Rock, which was completely, totally, utterly covered in graffiti.  The view was very nice, but there is a parking lot right next to the view, so there was quite a bit of trash as well.  It looked like it is where locals go to party. 

From High Rock, the trail follows the ridge, passing the highest point on the Maryland AT, and then going gently downhill towards Raven Rock. We took a short side-trip to Devil's Racecourse, about half a mile off of the AT.  On the way there, we passed Devil's Racecourse Shelter, which might be one of the saddest shelters I've seen.  It is in pretty bad repair and the floor isn't remotely even.  Apparently, its proximity to the road let to vandalism and graffiti.  In 2010, it was basically replaced with Raven Rocks Shelter.  Devil's Race Course, itself, is a field of boulders that covers up a creek.  When you stand on the boulders, you can hear water running underneath.

We returned to the AT and continued south, passing Raven Rock.  After crossing the road and Little Antietam Creek, we started climbing again, passing what looked like Civil War fortifications.  Over the next three miles, the trail passed through several meadows, including one that was completely covered in blooming goldenrod.  Up high, the forest, particularly the undergrowth has begun dying back in preparation for winter.  Hay-scented ferns have begun turning the color of straw.  Flowers have ceased to bloom and a few leaves have started to turn. 

Since we got a late start, we finished not too long before sunset.  Overall, it is one of the more more interesting sections of the Maryland AT.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 An interesting mushroom growing right in the trail.
 PenMar Park.
 The trail up to High Rock.  Follow the blazes.
 The view of Pennsylvania from High Rock.
 Devil's Race Course.
 A fork in the trail at Raven Rock Road.
 A small waterfall on Little Antietam Creek.
Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset) on Little Antietam Creek.
Solidago caesia (Blue Stem Goldenrod) near Devil's Race Course.
 A loofah shaped and sized fungus (it was seriously about the size of a medium head of cabbage).
Another pretty mushroom.
 A meadow filled with goldenrod.
Bidens coronata (Tickseed Sunflower) that filled another meadow.


  1. Is the trail to Devils racecourse harder then raven rock hike?