K9 Trailblazers Dog Hiking Club 
September 30, 2001 Hike at Soldier's Delight NEA
Trip Report

(click on thumbnail images for full size picture)

On Sunday, September 30th, 12 hikers and 10 dogs enjoyed a fine, fall day of hiking and botany at Soldier's Delight NEA.  This hike was our annual fall wildflower hike which gave everyone a chance to learn about the rare serpentine barrens ecosystem at Soldier's Delight.  Resident K9 Trailblazers naturalist, Dr. Cindy, discussed how the unique geology and resulting soil composition make Soldier's Delight both a very hostile environment for some plants, but also a haven for some of the rarest plants in Maryland.  We hike through the grasslands searching for Sandplain Gerardia at the bases of little blue stem grasses.  Along the trail we also spotted the last blossoms of Great Lobilia, and one sharp eyed K9TBer found a specimen of the rare Fringed Gentian.  Our hike also gave us an opportunity to see the consequences of invasive plant species.  Cindy pointed out plants such as Smilax, and we also saw the DNR's efforts to clear out some of the Virginia Pine which have been crowding out more local species of plants.  In several areas along the hike we saw where stands of trees had been cut down, or burned out in one of the regular controlled burns used to keep invasive species under control.

The second half of the hike took us to the site of the first Chromium mine in the US.  For a while, the Soldier's Delight area produced a significant percentage of the US's Chromium.  Hikers and dogs went down to examine the opening of the largest of the mines.  Our hike continued through woods and grasslands, along a stream for a welcome water break, and then back through the barrens to the cars.  All hikers and dogs enjoyed the opportunity to hike and learn more about an ecological gem right in our own back yards.

 

Dr. Cindy in Action Sandplain Gerardia Rest Break
Unidentified Plant in the Barrens Preparing for Part 2 of the Hike The Invasive Smilax
In the Woods Diva and Company Cool Off In The Barrens