Harford County Hiking - Overview

copyright, Peter H. Anderson, Baltimore, MD, Feb, '99


Introduction.

This is a collection of various walks, hikes and generally interesting places in Harford County. This will be expanded to include discussions of the three major hiking areas corridors in Harford; the Gun Powder River, Deer Creek and the Susquehanna. In addition, I have found many nice hikes in York County along or near the Susquehanna and in Northern Baltimore County. There are also a number of isolated sites in the county.

Harford County and the State of Maryland has done a good job in acquiring land for passive recreation in the County affording hundreds and hundreds of opportunities for walks and hikes and family outings.

(The US Department of Defense has done a wretched job. They regularly hassle folks on Harmony - Church Road, have recently blocked access from traveling on the south Side of Deer Creek from Route 161 though to Craig's Corner Road and generally make Aberd een proving ground off limits for any type of hiking).

All of this is not hiking as hiking might be defined by an ardent member of the Appalachian Mountain Club where a good day's hike might be 20 miles up and down a few 4000 foot summits. Aside from scaling the King and Queen Seat at Rocks State Park, Harfo rd County is tame.

But, I am 53 and not eager to scale Mt Everest or even the King and Queen Seat. Rather, it is nice to get out for a number of hours and enjoy. The Internet is a great resource, but no substitute for even a few moments sitting along a creek.

A Family Activity.

Its inexpensive. In fact, its free.

Many years ago, money was mighty tight in the Anderson household. Our VW sqareback would overheat to the point that when turned off you had to wait an hour for the engine to cool to again start the car. Somehow, we bought a canoe and for some five years we focused on small rivers in New Jersey some 30 days a year; my wife, myself and my two sons. Life goes by quickly, kids grow up, and I look back on those many family outings with fond memories.

Although children will eventually reach an age when anything their parents do is "boring", I think that prior to that age of rebellion, children value doing things with their parents and hiking is one safe thing almost everyone can do. (I don't consider Harford County any too safe for family bicycling; inadequate shoulders and careless to reckless drivers). Take a family hike hike and play a bit of Scrabble. Watching TV isn't much of a family activity.

No real planning is required. Just a vague plan of where you are going. And, you need not travel many hours to get there. There is a whole world at your doorstep.

Equipment Needs.

You really don't need much more than what you would normally wear outdoors. Harford County is rarely dangerously cold and I would think hypothermia to be rare. But, out of habit I always pack a wool sweater. The beauty of wool is that it works even whe n wet. I always buy a few snacks at a Wawa. A roll of toilet paper might be useful. I pack all of this in a small knapsack much like those used by school children.

I also carry a note book and compass. But, I think the compass only necessary if you are "scrambling" off trail through the woods. I like a pedometer to know how far I have walked.

I carry a good solid walking stick. I don't like dogs knipping my heels while the owner shouts the proverbial, "He won't hurt you". In fact, in Harford County I haven't found dogs to be much of a problem. But, I still like my stick.

The one big thing you should buy is a Book of Maps of Harford County known as ADC's Street Map of Harford County. It is about $10 and readily available in virtually any convenience store. I use the ADC page and map coordinates throughout the discussions .

If you hike alone, let someone know where you are going. I carry a small ham radio, but a cell phone is probably a whole lot more practical.

Trees, Flowers, Birds, etc

In the descriptions of the various walks and hikes I don't offer much in the way of names of trees, plants, grasses, mammals, birds, geology nor entertaining histories of the locale. The big reason is that I am not an authority on any of these things. A beautiful vista or a bird flying up Deer Creek is just that. I don't need to know the names to appreciate the beauty.

If you are more curious, the Peterson Field Guides are excellent. These are generally available at Barnes and Nobel or for considerably less at Amazon. Search on "Peterson Field Guide". I have enjoyed "Birds of the Eastern US", "Eastern Trees" and "Animal Tracks".

Pack it Out.

No introduction to a hiking guide would be complete without a caution about litter. Don't. Pack along one of those pathetic plastic bags they pack your groceries in for your litter. And, if you want to go to Heaven, pick up other peoples' litter as well.

Happy Hiking.