It’s not easy to find an 8 mile circuit hike on the Delmarva Peninsula. As common as they are in Virginia and Pennsylvania, most tracks of public land large enough on Delmarva are either geared toward hunting and not well marked as hiking trails, or they involve walking on vehicle roads or beaches (both of who’s negative attributes I have covered previously). That’s why the hidden gem of the Fair Hill Nature Area in northern Cecil County, Maryland is such a valuable find. More than 5600 acres of preserved land previously owned by the DuPont family as a fox-hunting compound, this vast expanse of old forest, fields and scenic creeks offers an opportunity for a moderately challenging day-hike without having to contend with hidden trailheads and boring back-tracking.
The terrain is rolling hills and expansive farm fields. Not overly flat and not too steep, so kind of nice for a day long stroll with kids. And several spots to play in the creek on a warmer day.
Start your hike at the main parking area off of north Appleton Road in Fair Hill, MD, and follow the orange blazes through old-growth forests, hay fields and along a creek with stone bridge crossings. There are several trails of various lengths and difficulty at their website here. There is even a historic covered bridge and a nature center on the property.
Food & Wine Pairings: Well, this is Maryland – which is to wine like Mexico is to water, but there is still a fun food stop at the nearby Milburn Orchard Farm Market. On a busy day, this includes fresh cider donuts, kids activities, a petting zoo and apple-cider making displays. But even off season this little market offers amazing baked goods, produce and the best locally grown apples I have ever tasted.
And if you are looking for something a little more substantial, my wife says with great authority that Pat’s in Elkton has the best Cheese Steaks outside of Philadelphia. Not having the same professional training as she, I can’t give you an expert opinion. But the wings were respectable and nice counter balance to a cider donut-induced sugar coma.
This is a great hike even in winter – and worth the trek to Cecil County.