There is much lore and legendary tradition to hiking the Appalachian Trail, including the so-called "Maryland Challenge:" hiking the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail in ONE DAY! You may miss some things hurrying to meet the Maryland Challenge, so this virtual hike can be done in less than one day and still see plenty of the special sites available in Maryland.
Join me hiking from the Mason-Dixon Line to Harper’s Ferry, or the other way if you prefer, and see all the sites in a much more relaxed and comfortable way.
Visit the Appalachian Trail, starting from any point in the listing below, and virtually hike from place to place — click on the up arrow () to hike toward Maine, or click on the down arrow () to hike toward Georgia; the up and down arrows are located at the left side of each Appalachian Trail page.
Below is a listing of places you can visit that correspond with places on the map marked by large red dots.
Visit the Catoctin Trail, starting from any point in the listing below, and virtually hike from place to place on the trail — click on the up arrow () to hike toward the northern-most trailhead, or click on the down arrow () to hike toward the southern-most trailhead; the up and down arrows are located at the top of each Catoctin Trail page.
Find the places in the listing below on the map to the left marked by large red dots.
The Catoctin Mountain Range in Maryland, which is one of the most wonderful recreational treasures within driving distance of Washington, DC. People in the area of course use it for hiking, but also in certain places for camping, for trail-biking, for fishing, and even for boating and swimming. The southern end of this mountain range begins in the south just west of Frederick, MD, and runs about 30 miles north, roughly parallel to South Mountain, which is more to the west, and roughly parallel to MD-15, which is just east of it. On both sides it is surrounded by productive farm land. Over its length, it comprises a ridge that dips a few times into passes. It runs through four parks, as follows from north to south:
Gambrill State Park, which includes several well blazed looping trails in addition to the non-looping Catoctin Trail. The looping feature of these trails is nice … you can park at the trailhead, and follow the loop trails right back to the trailhead. Some of the trails are limited to foot traffic, while others also offer the excitement of mountain biking. [Click here to see the sites in Gambrill State Park].
Strictly speaking, this mountain range does continue south into Virginia, but at much lower elevations and with fewer notable hiking opportunities to explore.
The Catoctin Trail … Each of the four separate parks include many hiking trails. Additionally, there is one long trail, which is a wonderful resource, the Catoctin Trail, maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). This trail is 26.6 miles long, and the northern end is just three miles from the Appalachian Trail on South Mountain. In addition to hiking and mountain biking, the trail is also the site for the annual 50K Catoctin Trail Run, which runs out-and-back from the Gambrill Tea Room to the Manor Area Visitors Center.
This photo journey provides you with an opportunity to virtually “hike” this trail in either direction. [Click here to see the sites and virtually hike the Catoctin Trail].
Maryland is sometimes called “America in Miniature,” because nearly every sort of geography found in America, except deserts, can also be found in Maryland, although not always on the same scale. There are many historic sites, and some very pleasant hiking opportunities. Come join me on some Maryland photo journeys not far from our Nation’s Capital, Washington, DC.
I have been thrilled to have had the opportunity to visit Chincoteague Island and Assateague Island numerous times both in the summer and in the fall, which are very different experiences. The summer is nice, especially if you like to visit the beach. My favorite, though, is the fall, when most of the tourists are gone, the fast food joints are closed, and everything is much quieter. Even the beach is a different experience. Perfect for getting closer to nature. This photo journey in Chincoteague and Assateague Islands takes place in the fall.
Chincoteague and Assateague are part of a chain of so called “barrier islands” running up and down the east cost of America, which protect the mainland from Atlantic Ocean storms. They are inherently unstable piles of sand that are constantly shifting and creating shoals that are treacherous to ships close to shore. Consequently, they are dotted by lighthouses to warn such ships.
Assateague Island is the outer island where the lighthouse is located, and is annually battered by Atlantic storms. Assateague is not permanently inhabited, except by wild ponies, other wildlife, and salt resistant plants, such as Loblolly Pine. The northern end is in Maryland, and is protected as the Assateague Island National Seashore, where many outdoor activities, such as hiking and camping are available. The southern end of Assateague is in Virginia, and it is protected as the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. A person can get close to nature all over Assateague Island. Both the northern end and the southern end of Assateague Island feature visitor centers; the southern section features the Tom’s Cove Visitor Center.
The main east-west road through Chincoteague is Maddox Boulevard. It runs from the bridge to Chincoteague to the bridge to Assateague, and then continues, as Beach Access Road, east through Assateague. Just before reaching the beach, the Beach Access Road travels through some marshy areas, causing me to refer to it there as the “Marsh Road.” On Assateague, many of the wildlife views can be accessed from the Beach Access Road. On Chincoteague much of the tourist related business and hotels are located on Maddox, and most of the residents of Chincoteague, as well as many B&Bs reside on roads north and south of Maddox.
As noted earlier, Assateague Island is home to a working lighthouse, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard as an aid to navigation. It is also open to the public, to climb up to the cupola throughout the summer and through to Thanksgiving. This lighthouse is beautiful and iconic to view from afar, and provides beautiful landscape views from the top. I also enjoyed viewing bald eagles from the top.
One of the most famous things here are the wild ponies, which live on Assateague and which are owned by the local fire department. They were made famous by a movie based on a children’s book by Marguerite Henry entitled Misty of Chincoteague. Every summer, Chincoteague “cowboys” round up all the ponies and the ponies swim across channel from Assateague to Chincoteague in a pony roundup, where foals are auctioned off in order to raise money and to prevent the herd from getting unsustainably large. If you are interested in this summer spectacle, you can get information from the Chamber of Commerce on the pony swim.
Naturally, you may be interested in visiting the Pony Centre, which is just off Maddox. They offer riding lessons as well as pony rides for the kids. Especially if you have children, you may also be interested in visiting the Veteran’s Memorial Park, which features a playground, lovely view of Assateague Channel, and not much else, which is actually the main idea. If you come during tourist season, it could be an ideal low pressure area for you to unwind in. It seemed to me to be a peaceful hangout.
When you get hungry with all these activities, you may want to visit Maria’s Family Restaurant, which is located directly on Maddox, it offers an all you can eat buffet, and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My family liked it.