For a Perfect Fall Day, Connect with the Mountain Club of Maryland
By Edree Downing
Can there be anything more pleasant on a fall day than walking in the woods enjoying the spectacular autumn foliage and fresh air? And could it get any better than to share the day with like-minded people? If this is your idea of a way to spend a pleasant few hours once or twice a week, there’s a group out there that’s right for you. The Mountain Club of Maryland (MCM), founded in 1934, is the oldest hiking club in Maryland and boasts more than 900 members.
The focus of the club is to have fun while enjoying exercise in friendly and supportive surroundings. MCM offers more activities than any one person could ever do. Typically there are three different hikes offered on Wednesdays, with a couple on weekends. There’s even a spinoff group that meets on Mondays with a focus on lunch with other friendly hikers. Choices of hikes range from easy to difficult, featuring walks or hikes for people of varying abilities. Three times a year, a list is published with dates and meeting places, letting the hiker pick and choose just what would work for them. A good example of choices for a typical Wednesday would be an easy five-mile hike in Savage Park, or a seven-mile hike on one of the Patuxent Trails, or for the more ambitious, a nine-mile hike is offered at Liberty Reservoir. Saturday hikes tend to go a bit farther. For example there was a 13-mile hike on the Conestoga Trail recently in Pennsylvania. Occasional canoe and kayak trips are also scheduled, such as the one set for a weekend this fall in the Pine Barrens, New Jersey. For those more attuned to paved trails, a walk is planned in Baltimore in October.
Hikes are rated in the bulletin with designations such as easy, moderate, hard or strenuous, with a guideline of the expected distance of the hike, expected miles per hour and if there will be stream crossings or elevations.
Other than good friends and great exercise the MCM, an all volunteer group, is active in the maintenance and upkeep of trails in the area. Active year round, they partner with such groups as the Appalachian Trail Conference assisting in a continuing effort to maintain and renew trails such as sections of the 2,000-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Dues run between $10 and $25, depending on membership classification such as single, family or senior. Guests are always welcome and are asked to contribute $2.
For an abbreviated list of upcoming hikes and for membership information, log on to www.mcomd.org