Up in the furthest regions of Virginia, deep in the George Washington National Forest, so far in that you have to go through West Virginia to get there, sits a little area called the Warm Springs Ranger District. This area is the headwaters of the might Potomac. Now if you are looking for beautiful vistas, rocky outcroppings, and scenic sunsets, this place isn't for you. If you are looking for a set of creeks, rivers, runs and streams that resemble a multi-highway interchange, look no further. You'll need your water shoes.
I got to the Sykesville I-70 park and ride promptly at 7AM on Saturday. Since it was a 3 day weekend and with perfect weather forecasted, the park and ride looked like a who's who of local hikers and backpackers. The Mountain Club of Maryland, The Howard County Sierra Club, and The Outdoors Club all were meeting simultaneously to begin three separate outings. One wanted to be sociable but we all also needed to get going too. This Laurel Forks hike was sponsored by The Outdoors Club.
This time I chose to ride with Lisa and her two pugs since my car stunk of pee (I probably need to get this bladder problem under better control ;) ). After a few miles on the road I realized that I had left my food bag in my refrigerator at home. Lisa was kind enough to stop at a supermarket in Charlestown so I could quickly restock. Special thanks to the nice manager of the Food Lion there who helped me out.
Slowly but surely we joined various other members of our group who were coming in from various points so that we all converged at the trailhead. We had Tuna, Keith, Lisa, Jada, Kisses, Justin, Judy, Terry, Ted and Mary. The trailhead is at 4000 ft so it still seemed like early spring up there, the leaves no fully developed yet. The campsite was going to be at a lower elevation than the trailhead so we descended into the forest along the Buck Run Trail.
At the bottom was the intersection of Buck Run, Locust Springs, Christian Run, Bearwallow Run, Laurel Forks, and a few others too numerous to mention. Needless to say we had to do a lot of deep stream crossing in some not-so-warm water.
Lisa had to carry Kisses and Jada across the water since the water was too high for them.
The area is a labyrinth of trails, many of them not in very good shape. But if you are a seasoned hiker, don't mind a little bushwack, and can handle sparse trail markings you will have no problem here. We all had a great time in the forest for 3 days, hiking every day along the streams. The area is not flat but the rises are very gentle. Keith saw a snake but was okay after he had a chance to calm down.
We saw some amazingly well-constructed beaver dams that would put those sloppy Maryland beavers to shame.
Tuna and Keith provided much of the entertainment on the trip and this same gang will turn up again at an Assateague trip planned for July, so keep posted. I hope the Mountain Club and the Sierrans had a great weekend as well.