Soldiers Delight is one of those destinations that gives you multiple reasons for visiting. A spectacular environment with a kid-friendly Nature Center will please everyone in your group.
Quick Look at Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area
Address: 5100 Deer Park Road, Owings Mills, MD 21117
Pets: Dogs allowed on a leash. Biking and horseback riding are not allowed.
Explore the Serpentine Grassland
Soldiers Delight is one of Maryland’s most unique environments and we saved it until May to share with you for good reasons. Because of the serpentine ecosystem at Soldiers Delight, it is home to some very colorful wildflowers that increase the chances that you might see a mixture of grassland birds, butterflies and dragonflies. That makes May and June good months to visit. Plus there aren’t many shady areas, so July and August will be pretty hot walking across the open grassland.
What’s a serpentine grassland you ask? The land is made up of serpentinite, an oceanic rock. There is very little soil and what soil there is, is susceptible to erosion, and has very low levels of essential nutrients for plant life. As you walk you will notice loose, gravely rocks underfoot and acres of grassland with very few trees. The trees you do see are short or have stunted growth. 300 years ago there were over 100,000 acres of grassland in Maryland. Now there are only 2,000 acres and nearly all of that is within Soldiers Delight.
Plan your Visit to Soldiers Delight
Park either at the Visitors Center and pick up one of the hiking trails, or park along Deer Park Road and walk from there. There are seven miles of marked hiking trails. During the 1800s the mine at Soldiers Delight was the largest source of chromite in the world. You can still see old mines from the trails that are across the road from the Visitors Center.
The Serpentine Trail, on the same side as the Visitors Center, wanders up and down around a large area of grassland. There is a stream midway, at the bottom of the trail. You will encounter the gravely serpentine rock underfoot and begin to understand why this Maryland environment is so unique. Keep your eyes open for plants, flowers and the birds and bugs they attract. The views are beautiful, but take water with you. There is little cover from the sun.
Make sure to visit the Visitors Center. It is made for kids with steps up to displays to make it easy for them to view turtles and other critters. Mineral samples from the land are labeled and on display, as is some of the equipment that was used for mining. There is quite a bit of the history of Soldiers Delight on display, including use during the Civil War.
Click here to learn about this unique Maryland ecosystem with a visit to Soldiers Delight.