Mild, sunny and dry November weather greeted us for our second K9 Trailblazers trip to Cedarville State Forest. Cheryl and Oliver co-led the hike with Jeff and Katy. This was Cheryl's second time leading a hike, and with her completion of PATC Hike Leader Training, she's just one hike away from earning the coveted K9TB hike leader hat!
We had a nice mix of "regulars" and new hikers this time around. Cindy and Belle came along as well as other K9TB stalwarts, Lisa, Chuck, and Jester. Jester had just recovered from a pad injury, so we were especially glad to see him back on the trail. It was also great to see Gwen hike with us again. It had been about a year (since our soggy November hike in Little Bennett) so it was nice to see her dried off and hiking with us again.
Erin and Xander returned after joining us for the first time in Greenbelt a few weeks before. The other dogs especially appreciated the peanut butter treats she and Xander brought to share. We also had a few new hikers with us. Julie and Pedro with Scotties Bruin and Poe as well as Daphne and her Keeshond Sadie. And so, after distribution of treats, maps, exchange of names, and the orientation speech, our group headed out onto the trails of Cedarville.
From our trailhead by one of the old charcoal kilns that once provided fuel for the DNR, we started out on the Blue trail. After a summer and fall of storms, hurricanes and generally extra soggy weather, we were relieved to see the trails had been cleared (thanks to the Friends of Cedarville State Forest and the DNR!). We saw signs of the severe weather in downed trees and some water on the trail, but it was clear that trail maintainers had done a stellar job in removing the major obstacles on the trail.
It was hunting season in Cedarville, so we took extra care to wear our safety orange and stay on the trails. The log book at the gate only showed a couple of hunters signed in, and we only saw one, and didn't hear any shots. The only sounds were the chatting of the hikers, the tromping of dogs, and the sounds of the woods; a peaceful day in the forest!
We wound our way along the leaf strewn trails along and across dirt road, and past the headwaters of the Zekiah swamp. The swamp is Maryland's largest fresh water swamp, and that area of Cedarville Forest is home to some rare plants such as Venus Flytraps and other carnivorous swamp plants. Unfortunately, due to the time of the year, we didn't see any, but still enjoyed the scenic, placid waters. It was warm enough that the dogs were glad for the opportunity to take the occasional dip!
After passing through the vacant archery range, we eventually made our way back to the trail junction with the White trail (our second loop). Cindy, Belle, and Katy as well as Pedro, Julie, Bruin and Poe headed back to the nearby parking lot. We said our goodbyes and the remaining hikers started out on our second loop.
Cedarville was originally purchased as a forest demonstration area and contains a wide variety of tree species. As we hiked the White Trail, the leaf covered trails through hardwood forest climbed and changed to sandy trails bordered by pine and other conifers. We all enjoyed the variation of terrain and flora in Cedarville.
We encountered few hikers and only one horse on the trails. We arrived back at the trailhead comfortably tired after and enjoyable day in the forest. The remaining hikers wrapped up a hike with a quick lunch back by the trailhead before leaving the serene woodland trails and heading back to the "real world".
(click on images for larger pictures)