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Wedding in Baltimore

posted Jun 11, 2015, 4:02 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jul 10, 2015, 5:42 AM ]
This past weekend, Sandy and I headed to Baltimore for her cousin, Melissa’s wedding.  We headed up Friday afternoon after work to our hotel for the weekend – Hilton Garden Inn in Baltimore/White Marsh.  The drive up was slow with much traffic congestion, so after checking into our hotel, we enjoyed the pool and hot tub for a little bit before these amenities closed.  We then headed over to TGI Fridays for a couple drinks and appetizers before retiring for the evening.  Saturday morning, we woke up early and had breakfast at the hotel.  The breakfast was very good, but was not free, unfortunately.  After breakfast, we left White Marsh and got on US-1 north for a short ways to the Jerusalem Mill area of Gunpowder Falls State Park and parked.  We didn’t have a lot of time for hiking before the wedding, but wanted to get something in on National Trails Day.  From the parking area, we hiked along the Jerusalem Mill Trail, which first ran along the perimeter of an open field and then ducked into the woods.  We followed the trail for about a mile to where it intersects with Little Gunpowder Falls Trail.  We could take this trail back to the parking area, but wanted to continue for a little longer.  So we turned right and followed the trail as it headed steeply up a bluff over the river.  We noticed a several patches of hostas growing along the trail.  They must not have as many deer here! 

In about a half-mile, the trail descended back to creek level via a couple of switchbacks and then crossed Wildcat Branch.  This would make a good spot to turn around so we stopped here for a few minutes to enjoy the view.  A few runners and bicyclists passed us, crossing Wildcat Branch.  These folks didn’t seem to mind getting wet and didn’t even bother to try to rock-hop the creek.  I suppose it would have been difficult carrying a bike.  Before heading back, we went out to a rocky area on Little Gunpowder Falls with nice views of the scenic river from here.

A small pipevine swallowtail butterfly was fluttering about in the area.

After a short while, we turned around and hiked back following Little Gunpowder Trail. We turned right at the intersection with Jerusalem Mill Trail so as to make a partial loop on the way back.  At one point, we hiked through an open area where mountain laurel was blooming.  I was surprised to see this more mountainous shrub growing here.

Near the trailhead, we saw a little ringneck snake slithering through a grassy area.   He was too quick to get a picture.  Soon, we made it back to the parking area and drove back to the hotel.  We took showers and got ready for the wedding and then drove into Forest Hill for the ceremony.  Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel for a little while, before heading downtown for the reception.  Sandy and I both wanted to enjoy the open bar so we rode with her parents. The reception was held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, an appropriate venue for a wedding reception for two engineers.

Located right on the harbor, it was a great location and very scenic.  Across the harbor, the iconic Domino Sugars building could be seen.

And when the sun began to set, the views of the harbor were great.

The weather was perfect and we enjoyed relaxing outside and enjoying views and open bar.  Around 11, the reception ended and we thankfully had Sandy's dad as a designated driver to get us safely back to the hotel.
  In the morning, Sandy and I had breakfast together and then I packed up and started heading home.  Sandy was staying another day with her family.  Once past Baltimore and Washington, I got off I-95 at exit 150 and headed into Prince William Forest Park.  I swung by the visitor center to pay admission then parked at lot A along the Scenic Drive.  After getting all my stuff together, I took off hiking on the South Valley Trail heading towards Quantico Creek.  I crossed the road and followed South Fork Quantico creek downstream.  After about 30 minutes, I came out at Pyrite Mine Road and turned right to to get on North Valley Trail and hiked through the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine area.  I stopped at the overlook with views across the creek to where the mine used to operate.

Not much was visible anymore through the dense foliage, but it was a good example of nature reclaiming the land that had once been a sprawling mine complex.  Continuing on, I passed by the ruins of an old foundation, all that remains of one of the mine’s many buildings.

The trail got a bit hillier, and I passed a set of scenic cascades along Quantico Creek.

Shortly, there was a split and I turned right onto the yellow-blazed Quantico Cascades Trail (though trail markers and signs also called this the Geology Trail and Quantico Falls Trail).  Where the North Valley Trail departed from the creek, the Quantico Cascades Trail stayed close to the creek, ultimately leading to the “waterfalls”.  The NPS map listed a waterfall here, but that’s kind of stretch – cascades is probably more appropriate.  Though they were small, they were quite scenic and I got some pictures, before heading up and away from the creek.

The other end of Quantico Cascades Trail was at parking area E.  I crossed Scenic Drive here and got on the short Mary Bird Branch Trail, which leads down to its namesake creek and then heads back up, terminating at the ranger station near the Turkey Run Education Center.

I stopped briefly to use the facilities and then took Turkey Run Ridge Trail back towards the start.  This trail ends at South Valley Trail, right near parking lot A.  I wasn’t quite ready to get back in the car yet, so I followed South Valley Trail in the other direction for a mile or so.  The NPS map again listed waterfalls along South Fork Quantico Creek in this area.  Like the other “waterfalls”, they were more of cascades then true waterfalls, but still quite scenic.

I stopped here for a while to enjoy the view, then started making my way back to the car.  It was a long drive home by myself from here, but at least I had gotten in a good hike.