Category Archives: Hikes

Urban Hiking

Sometimes people refer to “urban hiking” as walking around town, which is technically true I suppose, but more often than not the term is used to describe green space that is located in or around urban areas.   Such is the case, with my “new backyard”, Lancaster County Central Park.  With over 500 acres and a variety of trails it makes for an ideal get away for those us living in the city.   For me, the entrance is located right across the street from my townhouse complex.

City View and May Misc 008

I frequently encounter trail runners, joggers, walkers, hikers, bikers, dog walkers and birders on my morning hikes, so solitude (especially) on the week-end is harder to find.   Apparently, there are even a few graffiti painters, although the sample below is the only one I have seen so far and looks to be older.

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There is a large area near the highest elevation of the park that is designated for bird nesting.    The meadow is dotted with bird houses and wildflowers and is popular with birders.   A wide mowed grass trail circles the meadow.  Over the last two days I have spotted Eastern Blue Birds, Red Winged Blackbirds, a Baltimore Oriole (the bird not the baseball players), and a beautiful Indigo Bunting.

BELOW:   Across the meadow and in the distance the Lancaster city skyline is visible:

City View and May Misc 010

BELOW:  The wildflowers are nearly finished for the season, however,  the pretty but invasive phlox species is still blooming.

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Mill Creek Hike

I continue to explore the large county park that is my new “backyard”.   On this day I drove (because I was not exactly certain of the location) the short distance to the “Mill Creek” and “Wildflower Trails”.      Both trails loop through the same area, but the Mill Creek trail is at stream level, while the Wildflower trail traverses the same area, but about 50 feet higher in elevation.   The lower trail seems to be a popular destination for joggers and dog walkers, and when I left around lunchtime traffic was really beginning to pick up.

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One of the main attractions for this hike is the well maintained (and still in use) covered bridge that crosses over Mill Creek.    Lancaster County is famous for (among other things), it’s Amish population and it’s covered bridges; and has the most of any county in Pennsylvania at 29 (according to Wikipedia).   Of course these bridges make wonderful photographic subjects and with trails on both sides of the creek there is easy access to this bridge allowing for photographs at all angles.


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None of the trails in this park are terribly long, so you need to string several together to get a decent hike in.    On this day, I managed only three miles because I was too distracted with my photography.   After six months of hiking flat, flat trails along the Chesapeake Bay, I must say that I am enjoying the up and down topography that south central Pennsylvania offers.


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April brought us unseasonal warmth but in May spring has resumed a more “normal” pattern with a mix of warm and cool days.   On this morning temperatures were in the mid 40’s, perfect for hiking.


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I was pleasantly surprised by the results of some black and white photographs that I got of the covered bridge and I will be featuring them in a later post.  Below is one more color shot of the bridge as viewed from the “meadow” side of the stream.


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A Winter’s Walk

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After a week of temperatures that were 20 degrees below average for the Eastern Shore, it was time to get outside for some fresh air and “real” exercise. Nearby Pickering Creek offers several trails. With temperatures still below freezing my friend who was visiting from Pennsylvania and I had the place all to ourselves.

A large flock of Canadian Geese are spending the winter here, and we had the pleasure of seeing hundreds of geese lifting off into flight.   The sound of all those wings flapping simultaneously was special…..sorry, no audio.


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Pickering with Barb 029


I love hiking in the winter; no bugs, few people, and no sweating!   It’s also fun to look for animal tracks in the snow to see what types of wildlife are moving around the area.   We saw a small herd of six or seven deer, but they were too well camouflaged by the woods to get a decent picture.   I had seen river otters here before, but on this day they were keeping themselves well hidden (and warm).



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The creek/river had quite a bit of ice on it from the cold snap, but here and there is was beginning to break up.     I especially liked the pattern in the “slightly enhanced, but not altered” picture below.


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A familiar sight in these parts (here across the creek from the reserve) are hunting blinds; this area is a virtual paradise for waterfowl hunters.


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So get out your long johns, bundle up and get out there.   Celebrate the season!













A Cute Couple

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The weather the last few weeks has been pretty dismal. Lots of wind, fog, and rain has made for cool, wet, and muddy hiking. On Friday I woke up to sunny skies and the promise of a dry day between rainy weather systems. On my way back from running errands, I made a side trip to Pickering Creek, a facility operated by the Chesapeake Audubon society. I had been here once before, but had only hiked a short section of what they call the “Farm to Bay” loop which follows the shoreline of Pickering Creek (hence the name), which flows into the bay.


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At the point where the trail turns into the woods and heads back to the parking area, I came across a small boat house.  In front of the dock were numerous fallen trees partially submerged in the water, an ideal area for otters.


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When I stepped onto the boat ramp, I heard a large splash in the water and spotted first one than two river otters.     From their scolding I could tell they were none too pleased that I had interrupted their sunbathing on the logs.    They certainly were a photographic pair!   After I had pestered them with my picture taking for ten minutes or so, I let them get back on with their river otter lives, while I continued on my walk.   I also saw three dear and a great blue heron, but they were not posing for pictures.   The otters were the highlight of my day!


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Portrait of a Tree – Osange Orange

In my ongoing quest to find decent hiking here on the Eastern Shore, I visited a state wildlife sanctuary called Wye Island.   Comprised primarily of pastures, fields, and woods I arrived on the first day of shotgun deer hunting at the sanctuary.    That pretty much ruled out hiking!!

I was able to take one short hike along a path that lead to the Wye River area.   All around and over me were these tree/shrubs that I came to learn are called Osage Orange Trees.

Wye River 007


With a little research I learned that the wood of these trees is extremely hard and used in things like tool handles.    As I suspected, although they are called “orange” trees they are not in the citrus family at all, but the same family as the mulberry.   The path was strewn with the “fruits” from these trees which were sticky to the touch and when opened yielded a very sticky, white milky substance.   They are not edible (thanks to wikapedia I didn’t have to try).    The fruits were about the size of softballs.

Wye River 019 

Wye River 018


Although not native to this area, the Osage Orange was brought to this area to be used as hedgerows and to create perimeters around livestock fields.   The thorny branches discouraged escape.

Blackwater Marsh

Thanks to the kind invitation of a fellow blogger and photography enthusiast who learned that I was living in the area, I got to experience this wonderful National Wildlife Sanctuary about an hour’s drive from where I live.     Comprised of 27,000 acres (mostly tidal marshland), it provides much-needed habitat for migratory fowl and many year round birds including a healthy bald eagle population.  In addition the refuge supports a wide variety of reptiles and mammals.

I enjoyed it so much, that two days later when my sister and her husband came to visit, I took them to see this beautiful refuge.    We enjoyed several short hikes, and found a great pull-out spot to eat lunch and watch the birds.

Below:  Morning fog lifts from over the sanctuary’s marsh.


Below:  Herons and Bald Eagles abound







Below:   There was great debate about whether or not this was really a turtle due to the cold temperatures.   The consensus, was yes!  We saw a turtle!  🙂





Below:  Another view of this lovely area with the fog lifting. 


Hunting for Hikes

Here at my new location in Tilghman, Maryland it is rather rural.   That being said, nearly all of the land here is privately owned and finding places to hike that are safe (roads are very narrow with ditches on either side), and rewarding is proving to be a challenge.

Yesterday, while on a short walk to the “town park”, I met a local woman who told me about an Audubon Society preserve about 15 miles  (24 k) from me.   And since we are having an incredible week-end of warm weather, I decided today was the perfect day to investigage.

Located on about 400 acres of donated land, the Chesapeake Audubon Society has created a wonderful sanctuary of wetlands, meadows, and woodland which is inhabited by all sorts of birds and small mammals.    A great deal of the wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay area had been lost to agriculture and developement, thus destroying habitats.  😦  However, thanks to efforts of groups like this, along with the support of private citizens, some habitats are being recovered.    For example on this property, wetlands were recreated by moving tons of dirt around and restoring the natural drainage patterns.

One of the best things about this place is are the four (6.4 k) miles of hiking trails that weave in and out of the sanctuary.   Along the way are numerous signs educating you about what to look for and wooden viewing stands.   They will even loan you a pair of binoculars if you don’t have your own!

I passed a delightful two hours walking the trails and watching the birds; serenaded almost the entire time by the flocks of Canadian geese, spending the winter here.

For those of you who are “local”, here is the link to the center.

Hiking “the Tarn”

When I’m short on time, and want a nice, quick, scenic workout, I drive the short distance to the outskirts of town, and hike a one mile (each way) section of what is called “The Tarn” trail.   A tarn is “a small lake located at the base of a mountain”.    And indeed that is what this is.   Located at the base of Dorr Mountain, the Tarn fills the area between the mountain and Route 3.

The trail follows the water’s edge, and while you don’t gain altitude, you get a nice work-out from clambering over and around the rocks that make up the trail.

On occasion I have seen otters here, but on this morning it was just me and the rocks.  The leaves were having their “last gasp” of color for the season.   And although it was overcast and blustery, it was still warm enough to get by with just a fleece jacket.

It has been a mild October thus far.   But with the days growing ever shorter, I know that it won’t be too much longer before the colder temperatures and winds are here to stay for a while.

October at Eagle Lake

Although we have yet to have a frost here on the island, the days are definitely getting cooler.    Yesterday morning was chilly and the wind was blowing, but I was determined to get out for a good, long hike.

I was hoping to find some nice shots of changing leaves to photograph.   Although you can hike a carriage road loop, my plan involved a couple of detours so my hiking distance was going to be around 7 miles (roughly 11km).   That’s pushing my limits for one hike, but it was a beautiful day and I had plenty of water, energy bars, and time.

On my detour over to Bubble Pond I passed this lovely little marsh area.



When I got to Bubble Pond, I found that the angle and brightness of the sun were not favorable, so I settled for  playing up the dramatic clouds and mountains that surround Bubble Pond in black and white.



For my return trip around the south and west shore of  Eagle Lake, I took the Lake Shore path, which while beautiful is a trail fraught with obstacles of rocks and tree roots.   See if you can spot the blue blaze trail signal in the picture below.










Petit Manan Hike

Last week I set off to explore an area of the Maine coast that I had not seen before.   Months earlier I had seen the wildlife sanctuary (Petit Manan) on the map and subsequently checked it out on-line.  I learned that the area was used primarily for nesting birds; both year round and migratory.   The part that I would be visiting was at the tip of peninsula on the mainland.


The skies were bright, and it was going to be warm for an October day in Maine.   I decided to hike the longest of the two trails available, which with a couple of “side trips” (no I wasn’t lost, I was looking for things to photograph) ended up being about five miles.    The trail was clearly defined, and started out through blueberries (now finished), and goldenrod (thankfully for my allergies; almost finished).



At the edge of this field, under a nice tree was a bench that on the return trip I took advantage of to sit and cool down, refresh myself and enjoy the hundreds of dragonflies that were flitting about in the sunshine.

Unfortunately the wooded and marsh sections of the trail that came next were very wet and muddy from a week-end of rain, so it was bit soggy going here and there.   Luckily, the worst sections had boardwalks to help you navigate over the water.


Alas,  I did not see many birds (they continue to elude me in Maine) – some goldfinches, a blue heron, and some sort of brown duck (maybe a female eider).    I did encounter this cute little fellow (or gal) on the trail (look closely, he blends in rather nicely with his surroundings).



Along the way, I found another lovely sitting spot,  great sunning rocks, and some unusual trail markers (only in Maine).




And even though I didn’t see many birds, and even though the lighthouse on the website turned out to be on an island off shore; I also didn’t encounter any other people, which was a delightful change of pace.    Acadia (my backyard park) has continued to be quite busy.    So it was a peaceful morning; filled with sunshine and solitude.