Reviving the Silver Creek Nature Trail

Littledale entrance.

Labor Day, Kensington, Maryland, September 7, 2020 — There’s a semi-secret nature trail in the neighborhood if you know where to look for it. Judging by the traffic it is less secret than it is secluded. Regardless, the trail that runs parallel to Silver Creek from Littledale to Saul is a gem.

The trail is known as a social trail meaning people created it by habitual use. It was not planned and officially does not exist so no known entity is responsible for its upkeep.

Lately it has needed some love. This large pine fell several years ago and users rerouted the trail to the first passable place. Kids love it, but it’s a literally a pain for adults with stiff backs.

Lately two more trees have roadblocked tread. Called blowdowns in trail maintence lingo, they are large enough to require a chainsaw for removal.

Beyond blowdowns the trail has become overgrown. Here Japanese stilth grass, an invasive, has taken over.

All along the trail briars and other sticker bushes have intruded. This is particularly painful for folks wearing shorts but for little ones, some of these prickly stickerberry vines are at face level making them potentially dangerous to a child.

This matters because vegetation on hiking trails is tick vector. The disease-bearing vampires crawl up onto vegetation. From this ambush position their intent is hitching a ride and and sucking dry the next convenient mammal.

The best way to limit exposure to Lyme and other tick borne diseases under these circumstances is to cut back the weeds and shrubs along the trail.

That’s why Friday, after communicating with homeowners association leadership, I asked for volunteers on the Rock Creek Hills listserv. I figured, judging by the volume of free stuff available at curbside, that a lot of people were staycationing and that some of them might be looking for a break at a safe social distance.

At 9 a.m. this morning our crew totaled 10 intrepid volunteers armed with an assortment of loppers, clippers, a weed wacker, a McLoed fire hoe, and a chainsaw.

We broke into groups and tackled the offending plants from both ends and the middle. After two-and-a-half hours the results speak for themselves.

No prisoners taken here.

In progress.

Hard work.

Vegetation free super highway.

Before.

After.

Before.

After.

Before. The original trail is to the right, the new trail to the duck-under is to the left.

In progress. Folks are clearing away the vegetation and the blowdown.

After. Original route restored.

We left this for the kids.

Saul entrance facing south, before.

Same place after.

Saul entrance facing north before.

Saul entrance after.

Thanks to Hill Carter, Maria Dinger, Chris Hankin, Meg Hankin, Mike Silverman, Jim Brandscom, Mike Mazzella, Osborne Parchment, and Elizabeth Kingery. You rock!

Would it have been more fun if we could have grilled some burgers and sloshed some beer afterwards? You bet, but these days you take what you can get.

Sisu

7 thoughts on “Reviving the Silver Creek Nature Trail

  1. Nice job Jim! I’ve been maintaining a semi-neglected trail in my neighborhood down in Fairfax County this year. Fortunately, it is not nearly as bad as yours and I contacted Fairfax county park authority and got one of their crews to do some of the heavy lifting. Hope to see the hoodlums back in action during monthly trips next year.
    Terry Shaw

    • We can hope. I needed some muscle to help move some of those billets. Otherwise I could have done it over the weekend. It’s better that the neighbors now have some sweat equity. Maybe it won’t go to seed again.

  2. What do things look like now with today’s floods?

    Brenda *Brenda C. Siler, IABC Fellow* Writer, PR Strategist, *Washington Informer* Contributing Writer (202) 257-7242 http://www.linkedin.com/in/brendacsiler Twitter & Instagram: @bcscomm

    On Mon, Sep 7, 2020 at 4:05 PM A fork in the road wrote:

    > jim fetig posted: ” Littledale entrance. Labor Day, Kensington, Maryland, > September 7, 2020 — There’s a semi-secret nature trail in the neighborhood > if you know where to look for it. Judging by the traffic it is less secret > than it is secluded. Regardless, the trail t” >

    • The trail looks good. The water moved some of the logs we cut, but it also washed away the pruning slash we left trailside. The water volume and force was sufficient to wash a long on to the bridge that we’ll cut in the morning.

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