Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Adkins Arboretum (Blog Hike #346)

Trails: Upland, Tuckahoe Creekside, and Blockston Branch Walks
Hike Location: Adkins Arboretum
Geographic Location: northwest of Denton, MD (38.95330, -75.93310)
Length: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: May 2011
Overview: A lollipop loop hike on wide trail with good nature interpretation.
Arboretum Information: http://www.adkinsarboretum.org/
Hike Route Map: https://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=723543
Photo Highlight:

Directions to the trailhead: On the eastern shore, take SR 404 to SR 480, which is 6 miles east of US 50 or 6 miles west of Denton.  Go north on SR 480.  Take SR 480 only 0.2 miles to Eveland Road and turn left on Eveland Rd.  Take Eveland Rd. 2 miles to the main Arboretum entrance on the left.  Turn left to enter the Arboretum, and park in the large Visitor’s Center parking lot.

The hike: “The state park that wasn’t” would be an appropriate summary of Adkins Arboretum’s history.  The arboretum was first proposed in 1972 as an extension of adjoining Tuckahoe State Park; it was to be the state arboretum of Maryland.  That plan fell through due to politics, but the arboretum itself did not.  Thanks to a generous gift by Leon Andrus, the privately operated arboretum opened in 1980.  The arboretum is named for the Adkins family, an Eastern Shore family who were avid conservationists and longtime friends of Andrus.
            In 1998, the arboretum entered into a 50-year lease agreement with the State of Maryland under which the arboretum would be managed by the Friends of Adkins Arboretum, a non-profit conservation group.  The arboretum today is not only a fine botanical collection but also a center for social gatherings and nature education.  The hike described here follows the arboretum’s most popular and scenic woodland trails.
Wooden bridge to Visitor Center
            From the parking lot, walk across the wooden bridge to the Visitor Center, where you must pay the arboretum entrance fee.  With the payment of the entrance fee, you will receive an audio device that serves as an interpretive guide.  Numbered signs throughout the arboretum correspond to tracks in the audio guide.  When you reach one of the signs, which are shaped like tulip-tree leaves, simply press the indicated number on the device to hear about the sign’s topic.  These interpretive tracks are some of the best I have ever encountered, and you should take full advantage of them, especially since they come free with admission.
Main entrance trail at Adkins Arboretum
            After passing through the Visitor Center, turn right on a wide gravel path that heads through a meadow, passing posts #1 and #2 along the way.  At the second trail intersection, take a soft right to leave the meadow and enter the woods.  A plaque commemorating Mr. Andrus’ generosity is located at this intersection.
            The trail drops to cross Blockston Branch on a wooden footbridge.  Several posts tell of the creekside environment.  After crossing the branch, stay right to begin the Upland Walk, which rises gently through mature forest.  Note that the Blockston Branch Walk heads left here and will be our return route.  More posts tell of the upland environment, and benches scattered throughout the arboretum allow for ample opportunity to rest, if needed.
Upland Walk
            At the next major trail intersection, continue straight to cross Blockston Branch again on another wooden footbridge.  At 0.5 miles, turn right to begin the Tuckahoe Creekside Walk.  This trail is the narrowest trail you have traversed yet on this hike, but it is wide compared to trails at other parks.  Tuckahoe Creek is much larger than Blockston Branch, and rhododendron grows in abundance near the creek.
Beginning of Tuckahoe Creekside Walk
            The trail parallels the creek for 0.2 miles before angling left to return inland.  Where the Tuckahoe Creekside Walk ends, turn left to return to the wide gravel trails.  Turning right here would lead you out of the arboretum on the South Tuckahoe Valley Trail.  Turn left and right at the next two intersections to head for Blockston Overlook.  Although this point is high above Blockston Branch, the dense forest precludes much of a view.
Bridge over Blockston Branch
            After traversing a sharp left curve and crossing the branch on yet another wooden bridge, turn right to begin the Blockston Branch Walk.  The mulch trail leads right along the bank of the small tan-colored branch, parts of which are lined with dense colonies of mayapple.  The Blockston Branch Walk ends at the Upland Walk, thus closing the loop portion of this hike.  Retrace your steps back to the Visitor Center, or explore some of the other parts of the arboretum if time and energy allow.

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