The Appalachian Trail in Maryland is beaten to a pulp. That doesn't mean it's a bad place to go, it just gets heavy usage. Annapolis and Black Rocks are those rock formations you see off to the left of I-70 heading west on South Mountain, between Hagerstown and Frederick. Many people choose this place to start their hiking careers. The access is easy, the parking lot is on Route 40, west of Myersville at the peak of the mountain, it's paved and right off the road. It can be reached in a one hour drive from both DC and Baltimore.
You will see some excellent views....of I-70 from both rocks. You can also listen to to the gentle hum of the cars and trucks off in the distance. If the day is clear you can see all the way to Sleepy Creek over by Martinsburg in WV which will be directly west, the George Washington National Forest in WV will be southwest, the big moutains past the GWNF will be the Spruce Knob/North Fork Mountain area of WV, and if you look all the way to the south you will see a lump which is probably Signal Knob in the north section of the two Massanutten ridges. Past Hagerstown you will see Indian Springs in Maryland. Many of these exciting locations have been covered extensively in this blog.
I chose this area because most of the decent places to hike were still covered with ice yesterday, so I stayed closer to home hoping to find an ice-free hiking arena.
There was not a fleck of snow or ice in Baltimore so I thought I would be safe on South Mountain. I couldn't have been more wrong. Once I got on the trail at 7AM I quickly encountered lots of gray ice. I got sick and tired of crunching through the crust and skidding around so I performed a U-turn at Wolfsville Road, only making it a 16 mile day.
Since I had time on the way back I decided to play tourist, make a video and take pictures. So if you visit Annapolis Rocks, it is only 2.5 miles from the Route 40 parking area, and if you are willing to travel a bit further you can reach Black Rock. I'd highly recommend Black Rock as an excellent place for a suicide. The cliffs are some of the highest in the area, they slope gently so your body will bounce a few times before hitting the large jagged talus at the base. If somehow you survive the fall, chances are you will expire later from internal injuries because it will be days before anyone notices your body, the base area doesn't get much foot traffic.
Yesterday I saw many happy loving couples on the trail. These are usually couples in their 20s or 30s where you get the feeling they have been dating for a mere few months and don't yet have the hard look of married people. They often grab their bookpack from college and go for a quick walk on the mountain as an alternative to watching TV all day. It's always fun to watch who carries the shared pack. 20 years ago it was always the male. Now, more often than not, it is the assertive young woman whom you may also find walking a few steps ahead of her man. Of course, I shouldn't speak negatively, you can find more than a few of my annoying hiking dates at the foot of Black Rock.
Here is a very boring Hiking101 video. Don't watch it unless you have trouble sleeping, it's over 8 minutes long and very unhumerous.
I'm getting a lot of hits from people about this so I figured I would put up a little Google Map to show everyone easily where Annapolis Rocks and the AT is:
View Annapolis Rocks Black Rocks in a larger map