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August 20, 2011 7:30 AM   Subscribe

What are the best "hidden gems" for hiking around DC/Maryland?

I'm looking to expand my range of hiking options. I'm particularly interested in lesser-known hiking locales with low volumes of traffic.

As an example, I love the Fran Uhler Natural Area over in Bowie and used to go there often when I lived in PG county. I may have encountered another human being once or twice in probably 30 hours of hiking there. Sugarloaf or Great Falls are the exact opposite of what I'm looking for.

Recommendations for Wildlife Management Areas or similar would be great (and yes, I'm aware of hunting season issues...). Trails don't necessarily need to be well-maintained or well mapped/signed. The only restriction is that it must allow leashed dogs.

We're currently located in downcounty Montgomery County and prefer to keep it within an hour's drive.
posted by drlith to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I loved taking my kids to the Monocacy aqueduct. I'm not sure that anything that is part of the C&O system is going to be a totally quiet as you want, but it's in such a remote location that it was usually empty of people when I went there.
posted by saffry at 7:49 AM on August 20, 2011

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in Loudoun Co. (trail map) is small, but peaceful and beautiful, especially in the fall. I've been there twice, and in both cases there were only a handful of other hikers.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:27 AM on August 20, 2011

I don't have first hand experience, but I've heard good things about Gunpowder Falls SP, and with 100 miles of trails, some of them must be pretty empty.
posted by knile at 9:05 AM on August 20, 2011

Seconding Gunpowder Falls. Jug Bay and Soldier's Delight are also beautiful places with very interesting natural history stuff to see.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:32 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hiking Upward is a great local hiking site that rates trails by solitude, among other things.
posted by Gori Girl at 11:48 AM on August 20, 2011

Seconding picking up the towpath at the Monocacy Aqueduct. Especially on a week day it won't be crowded at all. There are also nice trails (but not at all flat) at Gambrill State Park just west of Frederick.
posted by imjustsaying at 11:53 AM on August 20, 2011

I enjoy the Mason Neck wildlife refuge (PDF brochure). Not the National Park where you have to pay to enter, but rather the trails on the refuge itself, going out into the marsh. Even on the weekend or national holidays, you only run into a few people.
posted by gemmy at 1:53 PM on August 20, 2011

The Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls in Montgomery County, right outside the Beltway.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:01 PM on August 20, 2011

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