#52hikechallenge2018 Weeks 9, 10 and 11
Gunpowder Falls State Park is my “go to” park when I want a fun loop trail without having to drive too far away. The park is located just off of Interstate 83 in Hereford County, Maryland and includes approximately 20 miles of trails. My crew and I completed 3 different loops over the past 3 weekends, enjoying the gnarly trails and the beautiful water.
This loop is 7.5 miles with 900 feet of elevation. The trail starts in a parking lot at the end of Bunker Hill Road, travels along the Gunpowder Falls River, loops uphill through the woods and near the Hereford High School stadium and back down to water. The path is pretty well marked with blue blazes on the trees. The challenge is that the trail is very narrow in many places along the water, and there are some trees that block the path. I enjoy climbing over the logs and trying to hike single file with 3 dogs attached to my waist, but some folks might find that a little daunting, especially when the trail is slippery with snow, ice or mud. My dogs LOVE this hike since they have a lot of opportunities to romp in the water and jump over obstacles.
I83. Take exit 27, MD-137/Mt Carmel Road toward Hereford. Drive East to a “T” at the traffic light and turn left (north) onto York Road. Continue on York Road for .9 miles, passing Hereford High School. Turn left (west) onto Bunker Hill Road, drive under I83, and continue to the parking lot at the end of the road.
There is a restroom facility and water fountain about .1 of a mile from the parking area. It is closed during the winter months, and is marked that it will reopen in the spring. I could not find a specific date on the signage or the website.
The loop pictured below was 4.8 miles and I wish that we had followed a slightly different pathway. We started in the same parking area at the end of Bunker Hill Road, but turned left onto the Gunpowder South trail rather than heading right past the restroom facilities. After walking along the water for a short time, we turned around at the parking area on Masemore Road, veered right on the Mingo Forks Trail and then hooked a left onto Bunker Hill Road rather than walking on the Bunker Hill Trail. The majority of the trek was on flat wider pathways through the woods and not along the water’s edge. The next time that we trek this loop, I will add on the extra .4 mile Mingo Ridge and Mingo Valley section as pictured below and will complete the loop via the trail not the road. My husband was walking ahead of me with our 115 pound yellow lab, Marshall, who is in training. The truth is that Marshall had a bit of “road rage” toward some other dogs on the trail, so my husband chose to walk along the road to avoid further aggression. Marshall walks politely on sidewalks and the road, so it was a good strategy. With that being said, walking along the road is not the best option for safety. Although it is not a heavily traveled street, it is narrow and there were some cars flying by way too quickly for my comfort level. Continuing on the trail is safer, prettier and would have given us a little more mileage.
I83. Take exit 27 for MD-137/Mt Carmel Road toward Hereford. Drive East to a “T” at the traffic light and turn left (north) onto York Road. Continue on York Road for .9 miles, passing Hereford High School. Turn left (west) onto Bunker Hill Road, drive under I83, and continue to the parking lot at the end of the road.
There is a restroom facility and water fountain about .1 of a mile from the parking area. It is closed during the winter months, and marked that it will reopen in the spring. I could not find a specific date on the signage or the website.
We began our trek from the small parking area along Masemore Road, completing just under 5 miles. Gunpowder South travels along the water, just like in our day 1 hike. This section seemed to have more downed trees and narrower sections than the other areas of the park. Earlier in the week, a snow storm added about a foot of snow to the ground, and although some of the snow had melted due to the mild spring temperatures, there was still enough on the ground to make the trail hard to see and very slippery. Periodic heavy snow showers made the river sparkle and turned the trail pure white.
This was the first time that we walked along this route, and I had anticipated our turn around point at the edge of the reservoir. I was surprised to see a dam! We climbed the path to an overlook and then continued up the staircase to Pretty Boy Dam Road which was closed to vehicles. After snooping around the dam, looking at the view of the reservoir and the river path from which we came, we descended the stairs and returned to the path, veering right onto the Highland Trail to loop back to our starting point. I really enjoyed this hike, partly because of the snow, and mostly because of the rocks, logs and moving water.
I83. Take exit 27 for MD-137/Mt Carmel Road toward Hereford. West on Mt Carmel Road and turn right (north) onto Masemore Road. Be cautious after passing Woods Road, on the right. The road becomes extremely narrow and it is difficult to see oncoming traffic due to an old stone home blocking the view. Park in the small lot off of the road, prior to the metal bridge crossing Gunpowder Falls River.
There is a portable bathroom at the top of the dam stairs. It is most likely temporary and is there for the use of the construction workers updating areas around the dam. It was extremely clean and a welcomed surprise along the pathway!