Monday, April 22, 2013

Morgan Run Natural Environmental Area: Spring Flowers!

There isn't a lot of information out there on Morgan Run Natural Environmental Area (NEA).  It is a small park located in Carroll County, MD, east of Frederick, MD. I couldn't find anything on the history of the area or how it came to be public land.  We could guess, based on ruins of agricultural buildings made partially of metal, that is was established fairly recently, but beyond that, there just isn't much information out there.  Michael, WanderMindfully, and I started our walk started in a parking lot just off of highway 97, where our vehicles were the only ones without a horse trailer attached.  Morgan Run NEA is more popular with equestrians than with hikers, although we only saw a couple of horses during our hike.

We descended from the lot on a wide, grassy path towards the woods. Once we were in the woods, the path became a more normal trail, at least for a while. Pretty soon we were picking our way through a stream, then a seep, over blowdowns, and finally onto an old woods road. The terrain slowed us down, but the flowers did, too.  Unlike last week, flowers covered the forest floor. Our route eventually took us to a path along Morgan Run, which was the prettiest part of the walk: lots of flowers, clear water, and little waterfalls. Unfortunately, at the end of that section, a nasty third-mile, partially shoulderless road walk awaited us.  We made quick work of it, but that will probably keep us from coming back and doing exactly the same hike.

The last half of the hike went by quickly and was scenic. We did stumble on an old orchard, complete with an overgrown, but pretty apple tree that was in bloom. There aren't really any vistas on the hike, but it was a pleasant enough walk through the woods. We hiked a total of 6.4 miles and saw a handful of people, mostly near the road.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
Thalictrum thalictroides (Rue Anemone)
Micranthes virgniensis (Early Saxifrage)
Nala, our guide for the trek. She personally inspected every body of water we passed.
Uvularia sessifolia (Wild Oats, Sessile Bellwort).
Ranunculus abortivus (Kidneyleaf Buttercup)
Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily).  These little beauties were everywhere along Morgan Run.
Morgan Run.
Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger). This has to be one of my favorite spring flowers, just because of the novelty of it.
A pretty little iridescent beetle on a rock along Morgan Run.
Flowers on an old apple tree.

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