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Combine two intersecting loops for an easy 6.3-mile dayhike in the 1,800-acre Soldiers Delight Environmental Area, one of the largest prairie ecosystems in the eastern U.S. and home to nearly 40 rare, threatened, and endangered plant species. Only a few plants and greases can survive on this ground, which has a high concentration of serpentinite, a rock that erodes to leave unfertile, clay-poor soil. From the visitor center, take the White Trail; you’ll soon come to a prairie of grasses, goldenrod, serpentine aster, milkweed, and fringed gentian. Reach the overlook on Deer Park Road at 2.1 miles and pick up the second loop, passing long-abandoned chromite mines. At 2.6 miles, turn onto the Yellow Trail to complete the circuit. The final 3 miles bring you back to the mid-Atlantic: oak, poplar, beech, maple, and hordes of deer. For more information, visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.–Hike provided by Evan Balkan, author of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Baltimore (Menasha Ridge Press)
Soldiers Delight Environmental Area
Location: 39.4101944, -76.8355942