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Potomac State Forest in Garrett County, Maryland seems to have something for almost every outdoor enthusiast, and makes a very worthwhile winter hiking destination.
It could be said that Savage River State Forest is so big that it couldn’t all fit in a single watershed…so it straddles two.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park is the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail and home to the Appalachian Trail Museum. The park has great hiking, remains of an historic charcoal-fired iron furnace to explore, two lakes for swimming, and great trout fishing.
Within this gorgeous park’s 6,000 acres, visitors can enjoy hiking and horseback riding, fishing and boating at two lakes (one featuring an expansive white sand beach), mountain biking, a stunning mountaintop overlook, game courts, geocaching, a nature center, rental cabins, a lodge, and one of the top 130 best-designed golf courses in the country.
Once in the water, the paddle took on a leisurely pace, gliding smoothly along the shoreline and marshland. Our guide animatedly discussed the fascinating history and ecology of the area.
Black Moshannon State Park rests high in the mountains of the Allegheny Forest, and is a site of picturesque and fascinating bogs, swamps, and marshes.
Within a couple hours, I went from rocky barrens lined by grassy fields to stunted forests, and then lush greenery bordering clear streams. Each zone presented a new opportunity to look for plants, fungi, and lichen.
". . . I took some time to appreciate the shallow, rocky downstream sights on the Potomac juxtaposed with the clear, open-water upstream section that forms Seneca Slackwater. The dam, streams, islands, wildlife, clear water, and historical sites all come together to make this a truly magical place to paddle."
This 7.1-mile paddling route is one of the more interesting ones in the Washington, D.C. area. It is suitable for many skill levels and adaptable in that one can reduce the paddling distance down to 2.6 miles by just sticking to the Anacostia River and visiting the Kenilworth Gardens.
In mid-summer the main attraction at McKee-Beshers WMA is the jaw-dropping sight of sprawling fields of sunflowers that burst into bloom in late July through early August.
After paddling at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and then spending the afternoon just 2.5 miles north in Alexandria, Virginia, I experienced firsthand how the natural beauty of Dyke Marsh serves as an urban green space for the densely populated Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia areas.
One of the best view you'll find on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland is at Weverton Cliffs. From this overlook, one can see the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath, the Potomac River, and beyond that, Virginia.
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