Sunday, January 15, 2006

Fairview Mountain

Four Locks Road to McCoys Ferry

Start Mile: 109
End Mile: 110.2
Time: 1 Hour
When: Morning 1/15/06

Directions: From Williamsport, take MD 68 to MD 56. Make a left on MD 56 and follow it to Four Locks Road. There are several one-lane bridges on MD 56. Follow Four Locks Road to the signs for the boat ramp. There are several one-lane tunnels on Four Locks Road. There is parking at the boat ramp.

There is nothing like the cold to speed up a walk. Really, I should have just combined yesterday's walk with today's walk on a better day. The distance from the Four Locks boat ramp to the edge of Fort Frederick State Park is about 2 1/2 miles.

There was no precipitation today but it was extremely cold. The winds over the last couple days have taken their toll on the trees in the area. I had planned to park at McCoy's Ferry but there was a large tree blocking the road.

This is usually a nice walk with plenty of deer. The canal cuts inland to shortcut a turn in the Potomac. They rejoin near the North Mountain Campsite. If the campsite wasn't marked you wouldn't know it was there. The Western Maryland Railroad runs along the canal here. A train was just coming through as we walked by.

While the train held little interest for Buck, there were deer all along the walk. As usual, he followed his nose and missed most of them.

I ran into the campers from yesterday at McCoy's Ferry. It looked like they were packing up to leave so I told them about the trees in the road. They didn't seem concerned so I assume there is an alternative way out.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Shanktown Road

McCoy's Ferry to Fort Frederick

Start Mile: 111.5
End Mile: 110.2
Time: 1 1/2 hours
When: Morning, 1/14/06

Directions: From Green Castle, PA, take 11 south to 63. Take 63 south to 40. 40 west through Clear Spring and make a left onto Boyd Road. Take Boyd until it ends at MD 56. Take 56 west and make a left on Shanktown Road. There is no parking but you can park along the tracks of the Western Maryland Railroad. Make sure to leave enough room for a train. These tracks are not abandonded.

I would not advise getting to the path this way. Shanktown Road runs along the border of Fort Frederick State Park and I was curious about the area. There is no access to the Tow Path here. We had to walk across a fallen tree to cross the canal. It was fine entering, but it turned icy on the way out and Buck was more interested in chasing deer than carefully crossing the canal.

The walk to the canal demonstrated how out of control the deer population is in this area. There are droppings everywhere (including on our makeshift bridge). It was impossible to walk a hundred yards without disturbing a deer. There were several carcasses near the tracks where they were obviously struck by trains.

This is a good part of the canal to walk. I would recommend starting back at McCoy's Ferry and heading to the park. It was snowing when we arrived having tuned form hail to rain to snow. The wind was harsh and I didn't want to be out in it long so we just walked up to McCoy's Ferry and back.

The Park Police and the DNR were writing up the driver of a Ford pickup that was towing a boat. I assume he forgot to get a new license with the New Year (note to self, get a new fishing license). The Park Police Officer asked if I was camping in the park. When I replied that I wasn't, he went back to concentrating on the truck's driver.

Buck took an interest in Green Spring Run on our way back. If it was nicer I would have liked to spend more time there. I've never been up to the where the furnace was. It should be easy to find off of 56 but I have not looked for it.


Sunday, January 8, 2006

Gift Road

Western Maryland Railroad Spur across from Nestle Quarry

Start Mile: 103
End Mile: 105
Time: 2.2 hours
When: Morning 1/8/06

We took MD 56 to Dam #5 Road south. At Gift Road we turned left. There are a line of nice country homes here. Gift Road gets narrow and becomes gravel. There is a parking area where it ends at the park but it is hidden. I ended up parking off the side of the road because I didn't know about the parking area.

This was a nice walk. We back tracked a couple hundred yards to get to mile marker 103 and then turned around and followed the trail to mile 105. Buck was eager to walk the 4 miles and was ready for more when it was time to go.

There was a lot to see for us here as we own property on the WV side near mile 105. There is also the abandoned piers leading across the river. There are many small islands in the river here.

There was not much wildlife out today. The beaver activity near Williamsport was not evident on this stretch.


Saturday, January 7, 2006

Cushwa Basin

Williamsport to Jordan Junction Campsite and beyond

Start Mile: 99.8
End Mile: 103
Time: 3 hours
When: Morning 1/7/06

Directions: Where route 11 crosses the Potomac is Williamsport. Right off of 11 is a visitor's center with plenty of parking.

Williamsport is a popular entry point to the C&O Canal. There is a visitor's center as well as a boat launching ramp and a soccer field. This stretch is full of walkers, bikers, and joggers.

We were here later than I wanted. At first I thought of heading to Neck road to walk there but I'm not sure where there is access. We took our time and checked out some of the paths to the river from the trail. The walk was a bit long as Buck napped all afternoon when we returned home.

There was much evidence of beaver activity to the north of the water treatment plant. We didn't spot any beavers but we did get to see a small army of squirrels.


Sunday, January 1, 2006

Spring Dell Road

Lock 42 to Opequon Campsite

Start Mile: 89
End Mile: 90.8
Time: 1.5 hours
When: Morning 1/1/06

Directions:Take MD 68 east out of Williamsport. Branch off onto MD 63 east. Take a left onto Falling Waters Road. Make a left onto Neck Road and another left onto Dellinger. Make a right onto Spring Dell Road. There is a sign for the detour but there is no parking. I found a clearing off of Spring Dell Road but it was muddy.

To get to the canal you need to walk past an old farm. It appears that some form of repair work is being dome but the place looked abandoned. There is a sign for detour where you rejoin the path. It says not to proceed east. I wanted to go back to where we were the day before so we walked about an 1/8th mile to where we found the deer carcass. On the way a blue heron took off from the water bank. Buck stopped in his tracks at the sight of this huge bird. I don't think we registered to the bird.

Once my curiosity was satisfied, we turned west and walked the path to the Opequon Campsite. The path was fine if a bit muddy. I was lagging a bit and Buck ended up dragging me on the way back.

We saw a few trees that were chewed on by beavers. I suspect Buck picked up on their scent a few times but none were to be seen.


McMahon's Mill

Avis Mill Road to Galloway's Bluff Road

Start Mile: 88
End Mile: 89
Time: 1.5 hours
When: Morning 12/31/05

Directions: Take MD 68 east out of Williamsport. Branch off onto MD 63 east. Take a left onto Falling Waters Road. Make a left onto Neck Road and another left onto Dellinger. Make a right onto Avis Mill Road. There is a small parking area at the bottom of the hill. The parking area is muddy.

The path starts out in good shape as you walk past the mill. It does not appear the park service is going to do much with it. There are plenty of caves along the path but I'm not interested in exploring any of them. Buck thinks I'm being overly catious and tried to drag me toward them. Being bigger, I win.

The path quickly becomes muddy. There is a path up to Galloway's Bluff Road. It is steep but we climbed up to admire the view. We also walked part of the road to see where it meets Mobile Road.

We continued on until we found a deer carcass. I figured it would be good to keep Buck away from it and this would make a good landmark.

When we got back to the Mill, some fishermen had taken up position on the river bank. I regretted not bringing a pole and using my liscense one last time in 2005.


Meet Buck

Introducing a small dog with a big traveling bone.

We first met Buck at the Frederick County Animal Control Center in September of 05. We were looking for a puppy for my wife and a family with a little girl was eyeing the only one there. Not wanting to make a little girl cry, we started looking at the adult dogs. We immediately fell for Buck and he became a member of our family the next day.

The first morning in our house, Buck woke me at 6 AM. We wandered the neighborhood for an hour starting our morning and evening routine. It quickly became apparent that Buck had a need to explore and wanted to see the world. We loaded him into the back seat of the truck and headed for the C&O Canal towpath.

We are not sure about much of Buck's life before he came to live with us. We know that his original owner gave him up about eight months before we got him. A family in Martinsburg with small children then adopted him. That family had to move to a more urban location so they returned him to the Animal Control Center. I'd like to know who trained him. He is an extremely well behaved dog with a sweet disposition.


About this Blog

Just what am I doing here?

At the end of 2005, I felt like I was not getting enough exercise and what I was getting was boring. I looked at my day and one of the best parts was the time I walk my dog. The problem was that the walks were getting shorter and becoming monotonous.

To solve this problem, I figured we would try to cover new ground on our walks. Living close to the C&O Canal provides plenty of interesting walks. I decided that we were going to cover the western part of the canal in 2006. To get started, we explored the detour area on New Years Eve.

To make sure I keep at it, I started this blog so that the rest of you can keep me motivated. I'll try to provide information on access points and facilities as I record our progress.