Sunday, April 17, 2005

Saturday Hike -- Westminster State Forest to The Old Mill

Yet another perfect day Saturday, so Michelle and I headed back out to Westminster to continue the Midstate Trail. Saturday's leg was just over 6 1/2 miles long, and was the easiest of the three legs so far. We started at a parking lot just west of the Westminster State Forest and hiked in about 1/4 mile to where we left the trail last Sunday. Almost immediately we came upon Muddy Pond, which ended up being the highlight of the day.

The pond is far enough away from any roads or homes that it is completely quiet, save for birds in the area. Along the shore of the pond is a shelter and a firepit, available for hikers who want to stay the night (presumably those who are hiking the entire 95 or so miles straight through, but I suppose anyone could wander out there for an evening).

The trail continued aroud the north and east shores of the pond, through some conservation land, and eventially out to Bragg Hill Road. From there we followed paved roads for nearly a mile, then headed up into some woods that were close enough to roads and homes that at times it felt like we were hiking through someone's back yard. While the scenery was significantly less spectacular than the first two hikes (unless you are interested in viewing a variety of backyards, decks, and patios), the proximity to roads and buildable land meant that most of trail was significantly easier to traverse (flatter, drier) than the first 12 miles.

Although we haven't seen any significant wildlife yet along the trail (and didn't expect to see any on this leg, since most of the area we were hiking in was populated), we did again see a pair of wild turkeys and a pheasant. We did not encounter any other hikers on the trail.

Total Hike: 6.8 miles.
Midstate Trail to date: 18.3 miles.
Total summer to date: 25.3 miles.
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