Thomas Jefferson was filled with awe as he looked down upon the beauty of the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. His view was from the Maryland Heights several hundred feet above the rivers. Our third president described the scene he saw as “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.“ The Piedmont Trekkers Hiking Club has climbed to that point to enjoy the same sight on numerous occasions during the club’s 17 year existence. The view looking north and west up the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers is awe inspiring and well worth the 5 mile round trip hike to the summit of the Maryland Heights overlook.

In fact, it was at the base of those cliffs at a pub in the village of Harpers Ferry that the idea of forming a hiking club was born. All while three friends sat admiring the views after a long hike on the Appalachian Trail in 2005.

Now 17 years and more than 430 hikes later, the Piedmont Trekkers have experienced trails and awesome beauty from the salt water washed beaches of the Calvert Cliffs State Park all the way out to the Appalachian Trail at Annapolis Rocks and Black Rock with their expansive views across the Appalachian Mountains.

Our varied hiking travels have taken us the length of the Gunpowder Falls State Park system to the base of the towering Prettyboy dam. Exploration has enabled us to enjoy the beauty of the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary with its forests, wildlife, marshes, and Patuxent River overlooks. This sanctuary is truly one of our club’s favorites and a jewel in the crown of Anne Arundel County‘s recreation sites.

One of the greatest outdoor treasures in Maryland is the Parkers Creek Preserve of the American Chestnut Land Trust with more than 20 miles of hiking trails. This pristine wilderness along the Chesapeake Bay shores presents hills, deep ravines, dense forests, and beautiful river marshes, all wrapped in nature’s silence. It is a beautiful tract being preserved for all time by its ACLT stewards.

Through the years we have found eleven parks with beaver dams plus three more parks where eagles were in their nests towering above the park trail upon which we were walking. Many of our hikes have followed the shore perimeters of nearby lakes, while crossing ravines, hills, and creeks that feed into the lakes’ waters. They include Clopper Lake, Lake Frank, Lake Needwood, and the shorelines of three beautiful Maryland reservoirs, Loch Raven, Liberty, and Prettyboy with miles of remote trails and distant views.

One of the newest outdoor gems is the Bacon Ridge Natural Area. This is a quiet wilderness of hundreds of acres gathered and preserved by the Scenic River Land Trust. The park land is now owned and managed by Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks for natural use. It has become an amazing outdoor asset for hikers, mountain bikers, and wildlife enthusiasts with the creation of many miles of well-built trails. Much gratitude for this recreational development is owed to Michael Klasmeier, the owner of TrailWerks, who deserves the lion’s share of the credit. He is truly the architect and creator of the dozens of miles of exciting wilderness trails available for the use of all. His tireless efforts resulted in the design, construction, and maintenance of those trails as well as coordinating with Anne Arundel County for their endorsement of the trail system. He has been assisted by scores of dedicated volunteers. Chris Carroll, the county’s chief of the Natural and Cultural Resources Division, has provided invaluable assistance to Michael in coordinating the permitting and the support of the government.

Our Piedmont Trekkers objective has remained the same through the many years; to wit, foster our members’ good health, fitness, and camaraderie through enjoying the outdoor hiking experience. We have kept our operations manageable and our equipment needs simple: appropriate clothing, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a daypack for lunch and water, hiking poles, and sturdy hiking boots.

From the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the stunning mountain views along the Appalachian Trail and the Catoctin Mountains, we have explored nearly every site across the piedmont to the coastal plain. You are encouraged to experience these same enjoyments. Form or join a hiking club or just gather a group of friends and go for a walk in the woods. The benefits are limitless. 

Phil Ferrara, an avid hiker and traveler, initiated the Piedmont Trekkers hiking club. Interested hikers and outdoor enthusiasts may reach him at [email protected] for details on forming a hiking club.

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