At the boys’ Grammy’s request, we returned back to Elk Neck State Park, in Maryland for this adventure. When we visited Turkey Point lighthouse, we spent all our time there and didn’t have time to hike any of the other trails. The hilly terrain is pretty unique for this area.
|The beaver marsh|
There are some positives and some negatives with this trip. One of the first negatives is that the area was somewhat confusing to navigate and with only one main road, you would think it would be a piece of cake.
Here is what we did…
First, we went in on Campground Road. There is a small store and a little playground right at the entrance. We turned right on Stony Point Road to try to get to the parking and playground areas there, (the red line) however the road is only open for people camping there so we had to turn around and go back out to Turkey Point Rd. From there we turned right on to Rogues Harbor Rd. and parked in the boat ramp parking lot. (the green line) There is a fee to enter both of those areas and it’s steep in my opinion, $5 a person for out of state. Not sure if they charge for kids, because there was no one manning the booth to ask at the time. We were able to grab a map at the campground booth, however there was no information on the trails regarding length and difficulty so we of course, picked the loop trail that goes around the beaver marsh.
That being said…
#1 ALWAYS do your best to research trails before you leave the house. There may not be maps available when you get there and/or the trails may not be well marked.
2# ALWAYS bring your adventure survival kit. If you have kids in diapers, make sure you pack a diaper and wipes just in case…
We didn’t do either of those things. Therefore, this adventure didn’t quite go as planned. About 2 minutes in to our hike, we realized a double stroller was NOT going to work on this trail. About 2 miles in to our hike, we began to wonder how far we had gone, where we were and how to take a shortcut back to the car. It wasn’t quite panic mode, but more like “we are so done with this hike” mode. So, as you can see from the blue line on the map, we actually crossed over to the trail that was running parallel to ours and went back to the car that way. This in itself was no easy feat, as we had to go through a deep ditch and up a huge hill will the aforementioned double stroller, kids out of it of course.
After some intense googling after the fact, I found out on Wikipedia that the Beaver Marsh Trail is 4 miles long and is rated “difficult.” Many times, I will say that if you have a good off-roading stroller with big, air filled tires, you would be able to handle just about anything but this is not one of those times. If you need to have a stroller, this is definitely a trail to avoid. It’s narrow and there are numerous places where the trail is blocked by fallen trees. It’s hilly, rocky and rooty. I would not label it “difficult” as it wouldn’t be that strenuous of a workout without the stroller. If you babywear or have older kids, this would be a great adventure for you.
I had to get the negative parts about this adventure out of the way before I got to the positive things and there are a lot of them! The fall colors were still stunning at Elk Neck and there was such a great variety of trees dropping leaves on the forest floor. We found all sizes, shapes and colors and had fun collecting our favorites.
Despite being a long walk, the boys actually got out and walked a good bit, at times due to necessity because we had to lift the stroller over obstacles, or go up a steep slope. They see so much more when they walk anyway! They ate a snack on a log and in a giant tree stump, played with the roots of a fallen tree and climbed over other fallen trees. I’m noticing a theme here!
Along the way we spotted all kinds of beautiful, surprising and odd things. I had noticed a rock leaning up against a tree and over the years, the tree began to form around the rock. So cool right?? While we were looking at it, D noticed some cracked acorns on top of the rock and told me that a squirrel must have been eating nuts there and left behind the shells. Shocked, I said “YES! You’re right!” To be honest, I never would have noticed them, but my 4 year old doesn’t miss a thing and it was such a proud mom moment for me. We also found a log with a hole in the middle, a crowned slug moth caterpillar, some gorgeous green moss and a tree that had been an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for a hungry woodpecker.
Even though this hike was a physical challenge, the positives still outweigh the negatives. I would recommend this, but under the conditions I outlined above: no strollers and bring plenty of snacks/drinks since it’s a long one. Additionally, I would highly recommend a late spring visit as we passed through numerous mountain laurel groves that will be stunning when in full bloom at that time of year.
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