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Chesapeake Bay News

Feb
06
2012

Tributary Tuesday: Sideling Hill Creek (Maryland and Pennsylvania)

You may recognize the name “Sideling Hill” from the impressively steep mountainside interrupted by Interstate 68 in western Maryland, about two hours outside of Washington, D.C.  If you’re the type that’s impressed by scenery, a westward trip means stopping at the Sideling Hill Rest Stop and Visitors Center to explore the mountainside, which is almost desert-like in its lack of forests.

Interstate 68 in Maryland

(Image courtesy dlhdavidlh/Flickr)

Despite its barren appearance, Sideling Hill Creek, which runs through this mountain, is one of the healthiest streams in the entire state of Maryland. With 287 stream and tributary miles and only 2,200 residents in its watershed, this Potomac River tributary is a fortunate one because it suffers from few human impacts.

Here’s a few ways to explore Sideling Hill Creek:

Look out for rare wildflowers

Sideling Hill is so pristine that it supports an endangered wildflower called harperella (Ptilimnium nodosum). In fact, harperella can only be found in ten places in the world! It’s rumored that this flower also grows in West Virginia along Sleepy Creek and a few Cacapon River tributaries.

Trout, turkey and more

The 3,100 acre Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area provides opportunities for hunters, anglers and anyone else who enjoys beautiful mountain scenery. In the spring, look out for turkey gobblers as they display their colorful feathers. Old logging roads challenge hikers with a variety of terrains. If you love to canoe or kayak, be sure to visit Sideling Hill in spring to explore one of the Chesapeake Bay watershed’s most scenic local waterways.

Learn about what you’re viewing

With its steep ridges and deep valleys, Sideling Hill is home to unique plants, wildlife and geologic formations. So when you visit, take some time to learn about what you’re looking at! The Nature Conservancy offers a Sideling Hill Creek audio tour that will introduce you to the specific types of rocks and plants found in the area. When your trip is over, you’ll not only be refreshed from the beautiful scenery, but also more knowledgeable about the creek’s link to the greater Bay watershed.

Sideling Hill Creek

(Image courtesy mdmarkus66/Flickr)

Have you been to Sideling Hill? Tell us how you liked it in the comments!

author
About Caitlin Finnerty - Caitlin Finnerty is the Communications Staffer at the Chesapeake Research Consortium and Chesapeake Bay Program. Caitlin grew up digging for dinosaur bones and making mud pies in Harrisburg, Pa. Her fine arts degree landed her environmental field work jobs everywhere from Oregon to Maryland. Now settled in Baltimore, she is eagerly expecting her first child while creating an urban garden oasis on her cement patio.


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