Seneca Creek Greenway Trail, northern section

lunch breakToday’s hike was a leisurely 8 miles (though we had expected 6) up the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail, organized by ANS and led by Bob Pickett. We began where Seneca Creek crosses Brink Road and worked our way upstream, then climbed out of that watershed to follow the Magruder Branch up to its crossing of Valley Park Drive, just south of Damascus in upper Montgomery County, Maryland.

slipperyThe hiking is easy, with just a little elevation change. There is one slippery crossing of Magruder Branch which we all managed to varying degrees of dryness. The upper reaches of the trail we followed, above Log House Road, lie within Damascus Recreational Park, and consist of accessible asphalt and boardwalk.

big treeBob’s strength is the green stuff, so we botanized great and small, including this huge White Oak (Quercus alba). We found some individuals of another as-yet-unidentified oak species, something resembling Shingle Oak (Q. imbricaria); one of its saplings is visible in the image, between Bob and the big tree. Among the wildflowers blooming in late June, Bob pointed out a yarrow, Water Hemlock, Fringed Loosestrife, Deptford Pink (I gotta learn how to do macro with my point and shoot). The wet bottomlands yield half a dozen species of ferns. I learned that the green case of an immature Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa), when scratched, smells wonderful.

invasiveOur destination species, if you will , was found in several patches north of Log House Road. Wavyleaf Basketgrass (Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius) is a new invasive of particular concern in Maryland. Perennial, shade indifferent, and propagated by seeds that can attach themselves to passing mammals, the plant has a lot of weapons at its disposal. The patch in this image was recently treated with a herbicide, but we found another untreated patch nearby.

A colloquy of nuthatches met to discuss our lunch break. Acadian Flycatchers and Wood Thrushes were numerous, if not easy to spot.