I can’t think of a better way to spend a spring Sunday in Maryland.
After I taught a morning Zumba class, we loaded up Johnny’s truck with basic supplies for a short day hike on the Appalachian Trail.
The Appalachian Trail in Maryland is beautiful – you go from flat, forest terrain to uphill/downhill cliff terrain, to water/creek terrain. There are tons of access points for day-hikers, too.
We chose the Washington Monument State Park access point in Middletown, MD. There’s a large parking lot, area for picnics, the monument to check out, and clear directions for heading either north or south on the Appalachian Trail.
We climbed to the top of the monument and got to see a breathtaking view! There are maps at the top that describe the observation points. You can see three different states from the top lookout: West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
We spent a few minutes on top, and then came down so others could view. There’s some room at the top, but only a couple of groups can be there at one time. There’s a dark, windy staircase climb to get to the top, but it’s short and the view is more than worth the effort.
After a quick picnic by the monument (awesome trail fuel: turkey/cheese/mustard sandwiches with fresh grapes, cantaloupe, and a pickle each), we decided to head south on the trail for an early afternoon hike.
Heading south from Washington Monument State Park, we walked toward Dahlgren Campground, one of my favorite pit stops on the trail last summer (mostly because it offers showers. A hot shower after three days without one is amazing), and toward Rocky Run Shelter.
I didn’t know the exact route we’d walk beforehand, which I probably should’ve planned, but the trip was somewhat spontaneous, and we decided we’d walk until the sun went down.
Consulting a guide later, I learned that we covered 8 miles total that afternoon. Here’s the milage, elevation and each point worth noting:
|0||1550 feet||Washington Monument|
|0.4||1400 feet||Washington Monument Road|
|0.6||1350 feet||Monument Road|
|2||1000 feet||Turners Gap, Route 40|
|2.2||980 feet||Dahlgren Campground|
|3||910 feet||Reno Monument Road|
|4||970 feet||Rocky Run Shelter|
Once we hit Rocky Run Shelter, we figured it was a good turnaround point since the sun was starting to hang lower in the sky.
The descent from the Monument was fun, getting back up it was a major calf workout!
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect: cooler at the top (Washington Monument), and a great 70 degrees toward the bottom.
I loved our short day hike trek — it took us about 3.5 hours to walk the full 8 miles. We also stopped a few times along the way to take silly pictures, grab water and refuel, and find the perfect spot to leave behind a small memento, a bit of “Trail Magic” for someone else to find.
If you’re looking for a short day hike that’s fairly moderate (there is a steep climb on the way back toward the monument), I highly recommend this route.
Our next adventure will happen during our birthdays (our birthdays are a day apart!), when we venture to Virginia for more AT hiking!