Prince Frederick, MD – For those seeking a walk in nature both challenging and inspiring, there’s always the American Chestnut Land Trust’s (ACLT) beautiful hiking trail at Double Oak in Prince Frederick.

With 1,800 acres of preserved beauty, Double Oak has miles of wonder that can only be experienced if you get out in it.

Former Calvert County Planner Greg Bowen—a fervent bike rider and environmentalist—was named executive director of the ACLT last August.

“It has been a joy,” he said.

He noted the conservancy began acquiring land in 1986. In 1987, the trust was formed and began constructing trails on the south side near Parker’s Creek.

In 1995, ACLT began working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to preserve properties on the north side of Parkers Creek.

“We jumped the creek,” Bowen noted.

By 2000, nearly all the north side properties were preserved and ACLT signed a lease with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (which had acquired the lands from TNC) to manage the properties not already owned by ACLT.

Then ACLT began to build the trails.

There are approximately 10 miles of trails on the north side, considered the Double Oak Trail, including the Prince Frederick to the Chesapeake Bay trail and the Parker’s Creek Loop. The trails are open to the public. 

There are aspects to the Double Oak Trail unlike any in Southern Maryland.

In spring, when the wisteria blooms, there is one section of the hike that merges in to a lavender wonderland. Vines planted in Calvert’s deep past have spread throughout a sizable portion of acreage, filling the air with sweet scents and beautiful lavender petals. While this year’s late freeze stymied this phenomenon for 2016, usually every spring it is there like a secret garden, delighting hikers who aren’t expecting it.

There are steep hills on the trail that wind past marshland and wetland areas with massive beech trees, their roots stretching into an impressive tangle while grasping for a foothold in the clay banks.

The newest trail, Bowen noted, can be found near St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Prince Frederick. There is a 4.9 mile side trail from Double Oak to the Prince Frederick trail’s starting point.

“The trail goes all the way to the bay,” Bowen said, a total hike of 6.5 miles.

It probably goes without saying that precautions are necessary when walking on American Chestnut Land Trust trails, which often go through vegetation and deep woodland. Ticks are prevalent and must be guarded against with insect repellent. “Although I’ve been walking there this year and I’ve only picked two ticks off of me,” Bowen noted. Plus the deer flies are fierce.

Hunting is also allowed at Double Oak from fall to winter, so hikers need to be aware of when local hunting season is in effect.

ACLT also offers canoe trips throughout the summer, and Bowen said the trust has also begun the Educational Demonstration Garden Experiment (EDGE) which is run by volunteers and produced 4,500 pounds of naturally grown fresh vegetables they offer at their monthly farmer’s market and donate to food banks.

For more information or to learn how to volunteer, go to: http://acltweb.org/explore/trails.cfm.

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com