Hiking At Soldiers Delight

Serpentine TrailWe love the idea of so many people appreciating the unsurpassable beauty that makes Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area such a popular hiking destination. Unfortunately, the increased foot traffic has had a detrimental effect on our primitive trails and the vegetation surrounding them.

Here are some facts about Soldiers Delight NEA and some handy tips on the best ways to enjoy hiking in our special habitat without negatively impacting the rare and endangered flora which call Soldiers Delight home: 

1. The hiking trails at SDNEA are open and free to the public from 9:00 a.m. to sunset every day of the week, all year long. Unless snow has blocked the entrance, free parking is available in the visitor center parking lot at 5100 Deer Park Road in Owings Mills.

2. Our trials are unimproved, rugged hiking trails. Wheeled vehicles (bicycles, scooters, etc.) of any kind are not allowed. Dogs are allowed but only on a very short leash. This is strictly enforced, as we are not a “park” at all, but a natural environment area with more than thirty rare and endangered species of plants and animals on our 1,900 acres, some of which grow right along the trail edges.

3. If hikers don’t keep to the middle of the trails, and don’t keep their dogs to the middle of the trails as well, these endangered wildflowers can be easily trampled into extirpation and lost forever. So we ask that you wear footwear appropriate for muddy conditions and walk in the (unfortunately) muddy, rivulet-ridden, middle of the trails, even when it would be drier and easier to walk along the edges.

4. This is a “pack-in, pack-out” wilderness area, so you won’t find any garbage cans here. You are welcome to bring a picnic, as we have a few picnic tables set up on the back patio of our visitor center and also along the Serpentine Trail near the Red Dog Lodge (about 100 yards behind the visitor center), but you must carry your waste (and your dog’s waste) away with you when you leave.

5. Our visitor center is closed due to the pandemic and will not reopen until the after the new year at the earliest. However, during hiking hours (9:00 a.m. to sunset every day), the restrooms at the back of the building remain open for your convenient use.

6. Due to the extremely sensitive nature of our unique habitat, visitors are forbidden from venturing off the trails for any reason, and nothing, not even a leaf or a rock, can be taken from the site. In exchange for following what might seem to be rather Draconian rules, you will be treated to indescribable beauty in a state-designated wilderness area. This natural environment area is remarkable in many ways, not the least of which is that it is so convenient and easy to get to for city and suburban dwellers!

You can peruse our website for background information about this beautiful and fascinating ecosystem. Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc. (SDCI), the "Friends Group" for Soldiers Delight NEA, is a small, nonprofit entity made up entirely of volunteers who are engaged, along with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife & Heritage Service, in a near constant battle to eradicate invasive plants that threaten to overrun our fragile native species.

Our trails are well-indicated by red, yellow, orange and white paint markers, and range from easy to moderately challenging. Click here for a link to a PDF of our trail map.

Please don't hesitate to reach out via our online contact page if you have any questions. We hope you thoroughly enjoy your hikes through Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area! 

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