Saturday, April 7, 2018

Annapolis Rocks, MD (1700')

About two weeks ago, on the recommendation of SummitPost's Eastern States Climber's Peak List, I ventured north to central Maryland to hike Annapolis Rocks. I had never heard of the Rocks before, but if they'd made it onto that list--in the company of Katahdin, the Presidential Range, and Old Rag Mountain, among others--I figured they must be worth seeing. Even if they were in Maryland.

Maryland Congressional Districts
Remember this map? The Supreme Court just heard a case over whether these districts are unconstitutionally gerrymandered... for reals.

But what the Rocks lack in elevation, at a measly 1700', they make up for in accessibility. They lie just off the Appalachian Trail on the slopes of South Mountain (a long, flat-topped ridge much like the Massanuttens in Virginia), about two and a half miles north of I-70. East of the mountain, farm country descends to the growing exurb of Frederick, MD; to the west, steep slopes look out upon the Cumberland Valley, northern neighbor to the Shenandoah. In other words, the country seemed fairly familiar to me, right down to the white-haired farmer waving at my car as it passed through the village of Wolfsville.

My original plan had been to approach the Rocks from the north, starting about six miles up the AT at the next road crossing, and make a full-day hike of them. However, I wound up starting late (though not late enough to avoid the tail end of the Beltway's morning rush hour) and arrived around 11 at the trailhead--well, at the mountain gap where Google Maps had claimed there was a trailhead. I didn't see a thing as I drove by.