Maryland Mountain Dreams

Deep Creek Lake State Park

Hiking the Meadow Mountain Trail System at Deep Creek Lake State Park

Maryland Mountain Dreams

Rocky Gap State Park

Maryland Mountain Dreams

New Study Highlights Challenges Facing the Appalachian National Scenic Trail • Appalachian Mountain Dreams

Washington, D.C.—According to a new assessment released today by the National Parks Conservation Association NPCA and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy ATC, one of the most beloved recreational footpaths in the United States, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, faces many challenges that put the experience of visitors and trail resources at risk. Adjacent land development on privately owned land, sources of air pollution, and funding shortfalls impacts the ability of trail managers to protect historic structures and preserve trail resources.

“The Appalachian Trail attracts millions of hikers each year, and we must ensure its unique American experience is protected for future generations to enjoy,” said Ron Tipton, NPCA’s senior vice president of policy. “This report demonstrates clearly that a strong commitment by government agencies and trail advocates is essential to preserve the AT’s unique natural and cultural values for future generations.”

via New Study Highlights Challenges Facing the Appalachian National Scenic Trail • Appalachian Mountain Dreams.

Maryland Mountain Dreams

Maple Syrup Isn’t Always From New England…

As maple syrup season nears, producers in Garrett County are readying their tapping equipment for harvesting time, which runs from the end of this month through April. The sap starts to flow during the spring thaw, when the combination of mineral-rich soil and temperate weather yields exceptionally rich and sweet syrup.[1]

After an exceptional winter, the sweet taste of spring can not come too soon…Especially in Garrett County, Maryland. There are a number of isolated areas in the southern Appalachians where maple syrup is still being produced. One of the more important sites is here in Maryland where about 30 syrup makers are scattered around Garrett County.

Steyer Brothers Farm is the largest producer in Western Maryland as well as the oldest: Last year, it celebrated its 100th anniversary. In a good year, the family-run operation (Grandma still lends a hand) squeezes out about 1,000 gallons of syrup. They sell the sticky amber substance for $7 a pint or $30 a gallon. The price tag is higher than such mass-produced syrups as Aunt Jemima, but compare labels before you go cheap: Major brands may contain less than 2 percent maple syrup; the local liquid is 100 percent pure.[1]

The Washington Post

Making Syrup

Traditionally, maple syrup was harvested by tapping a maple tree through the bark and into the wood, then letting the sap run into a bucket, which required daily collecting; less labour-intensive methods such as the use of continuous plastic pipelines have since superseded this, in all but cottage-scale production.

Production is concentrated in February, March, and April, depending on local weather conditions. Freezing nights and warm days are needed to induce sap flows. The change in temperature from above to below freezing causes water uptake from the soil, and temperatures above freezing cause a stem pressure to develop, which, along with gravity, causes sap to flow out of tapholes or other wounds in the stem or branches. To collect the sap, holes are bored into the maple trees and tubes (taps, spouts, spiles) are inserted. Sap flows through the spouts into buckets or into plastic tubing.[2]

Since it requires 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup…One sugar maple will produce about 10 gallons of sap in a season. You need a lot of trees to make any quantity of syrup.

The map below shows the location of Steyer Brothers Farm.

For more information there is a video of the Stayer Brothers Farm maple syrup production by Edwin Remsberg HERE

[1] Maryland maple farms offer syrup, pure and simple –

[2] Maple syrup – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Maryland Mountain Dreams

Time To Plan A Bike Ride? How About A Spring Hike?

While the weather outside right now may not be conducive of going off on a bike tour, right about now may be a good time to start planning for the spring and summer.

A good place to start (or end) could be the town of Cumberland, Maryland where two hike and bike trails come together. Heading south on the C&O Canal towpath you can travel all the way to Washington. Heading north and west is a 150 mile trail system called the Great Allegheny Passage leading you all the way through the mountains to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania once it’s completed.

Going South On The C&O

When you are traveling on the C&O you are visiting a 184.5 mile long National Historical Park. The National Park Service has this to say about the canals importance to the area…

Packet Boat on Canal
Packet Boat on Canal, NPS Photo

In the 19th century the C&O Canal provided jobs and opportunities for people throughout the Potomac River Valley. Today the canal's remains provide a place to recreate and enjoy nature, but most importantly they tell the story of the canal's important role in many aspects of American history. These include western expansion, transportation, engineering, the Civil War, immigration, industry and commerce. (via Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park – History & Culture (U.S. National Park Service))

Today, millions of visitors each year hike or bike the towpath alongside the canal. If you plan in advance there is the possibility of staying the night in a furnished Lockhouse. At this time there are three lockhouses set up to allow for overnight stays with two additional lockhouses being rehabilitated for the program.

Stay the night, remember forever

Have you ever wanted to see the inside of a lockhouse or wondered what it was like to live and work along the canal? Well now you can!

Canal Quarters offers an extraordinary interpretive opportunity for people of all ages. Now, for the first time ever, you can stay overnight in a lockhouse and experience life as it may have been during a bygone era on the C&O Canal. Four lockhouses have been painstakingly rehabilitated and furnished to evoke different eras in the canal’s history.(via C&O Canal Trust – Exploring a Canal of History)

Just keep in mind, you really will be experiencing life as it was…In some houses running water and electricity are not available. In addition to the lockhouses  there are over 1,300 historic structures in the C&O Canal NHP, more than in any other national park in the country.


Begun in 1828, it wasn’t until October 10, 1850 that the canal was opened in Cumberland. On that day the first five coal boats of what would be a multitude over the following years started their journey towards the Atlantic.

“Many of us were young when this great work was commenced,” said the spokesman for the town, “The opening of yonder gates to let through the first boat carrying freight…is the turning point in the history of the canal.”

The engineering feat was impressive. There were 74 locks, 7 dams, 11 aqueducts and a 3,118-ft tunnel along the 184 and a half miles of ditch and towpath.Boats

It was the flood of 1889 that spelled the end of the C&O as a viable business. Ownership passed to the B&O Railroad, long time competitor of the Canal Company. By 1902 the management of the canal was in the hands of Canal Towage Company and the life on the canal was totally different. Boats once owned by the watermen became company property; impersonal numbers replaced the boat names.

After another flood in 1924 left the canal in ruins the canal age was abandoned to history until granted a new lease on life in 1971 as a National Historical Park.

Up Next: The Trail North…

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