This 5-mile hike explores the two tributaries for Zekiah Swamp, which is the largest freshwater swamp in Maryland running 20 miles long and 0.75 mile wide. The tributaries explored and crossed at their headwaters are Zekiah Swamp Run and Wolf Den Branch. Segments of this trail skirt forested areas while others share the trail with mountain bikers. Horseback riders are permitted along the path as well, but don't frequent the route as often as hikers and bikers. This particular circuit hike is blazed with several colors. Although the colors never wane, the multiply trail junctions demand you stay alert.
Begin the hike from the parking area where you'll see a path leading into the woods. In about 100 feet, a blue-blazed trail (Heritage Trail) greets you as well as an orange-blazed trail (Holly Trail). Take the blue-blazed route into a woodland of hills, streams and springs. Cross the two tributaries of Wolf Den Branch. Continue on the blue-blazed route as you pass the green trail (Swamp Trail) and white trail junctions. Hike across Cross Road at 1.2 miles and enter an open area where hunters gather for target practice. At 1.4 miles, several trail junctions merge. Take the path that leads left into a sweetgum forest. If you aren't sure about the identity of the tree, look to the ground for the prickly 1 • " diameter balls covering the ground. At 1.6 miles, you should be able to see Forest Road out front. Head right onto the green-blazed trail, which parallels Zekiah Swamp Run. As the undergrowth becomes thicker, be sure to slow down and enjoy the secluded wooded setting whose silence is broken by birdsong. Also, look for beaver activity. At 2 miles, crossover Zekiah Swamp Run. At nearly 2.4 miles, you'll come to a trail junction with the brown-blazed route. Leave the green-blazed route for the brown-blazed route (Plantation Trail) skirting a small housing area and the edges of 4-acre Cedarville Pond. This area is fairly level and travels through a pine plantation planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. When you come to a T-intersection, head left and then make another immediate left. Shortly, you reach the parking lot for Cedarville Pond. Continue on Forest Road walking in the opposite direction of the pond. As soon as you cross over Zekiah Swamp Run, look for the blue-blazed route leading right. Take this path to the right and continue on past Mistletoe Trail and on past Cross Road. About 4.8 mile, the trail becomes slender and then crosses over Wolf Den Branch. You'll come to two 4-way intersections. Follow the blue-blazes carefully, weaving back and forth within footsteps of each other. After you cross Forest Road, there is a short connector trail that carries you back to the parking lot.
A chemical toilet is provided at the trailhead.
Directions: From Washington, D.C., Travel south along U.S. Highway 301 to Cedarville Road (about a mile north of Mattawoman). Travel east along Cedarville Road for 2.4 miles turning right (south) onto Bee Oak Road. Travel several miles turning right onto Sunset Road. A parking lot is on the right hand side of the road.
Elevation: 200 feet
Elevation Gain: 250 feet
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Cedarville State Forest, Virginia
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