Monday, August 9, 2010

Appalachian Trail Maryland: Washington Monument

One of the most popular and memorable sights along Appalachian Trail in Maryland is the Washington Monument. You don't have to worry about missing it, as the Appalachian Trail goes right up to it, if you're following the white blazes.

Northbound Appalachian Trail hikers will reach a road crossing with Washington Monument State Park across the road. Follow the gravel path on the opposite side up towards your right. You'll first find a bulletin board with a map of the park and the usual rules for hiking the trail in Maryland. Continue on up the trail as it goes uphill and across a grassy open area.

You'll make a left turn on the main park entrance road and continue uphill past building on your left to a parking area with a low gray stone wall. Resist the urge to doff your pack and sit on the wall. Those fir trees will embed tiny pricklies in your shirt and backpack pad. Instead, take a few more steps up the short stairs and take a break at the small pavilion just on the left side of the now gravel trail. The water spigot is just across the trail from the pavilion.

If you need restroom facilities, then go back down the steps and turn right. Follow the sidewalk past the museum and you'll find the restrooms in a brick building just down the hill.

Once you've topped off your water, then continue on up hill on the gravel path from the pavilion. The trail will wind up and towards your left as you ascend. At the top, the Washington Monument will be directly in front of you. Glance to your right as you enter the clearing and you'll see the white blazes indicating the trail continuing north.

The monument has a spiral iron staircase inside that you can climb to the wonderful view from the top. You can drop your pack just below the monument where you'll find a small rock bench and a rock walled area. If you arrive before noon, then there's probably shade.

When you're ready to leave the area, then head back to the side of the clearing you entered, but steer left onto the northbound trail. The trail north from the monument is steep downhill with large railroad tie water bars. Southbound hikers should follow the gray gravel trail back down to the pavilion and top off water for the hike south to Rocky Run where a piped spring awaits.

Also, if you're northbound out of Washington Monument SP, then you should consider stopping for the night at Annapolis Rock. Yes, there is camping and a piped spring to be found there as well as a magical sunset dinner.

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