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Cycling through a Farming Landscape Around Boyds and Germantown, Maryland

Since the original Old Farm Trail was laid out in the early 1980s, the farms have changed use or disappeared as development has occurred in the area, and as the economics of farming has changed.  The farms identified on the tour are still standing although they are not owned by the farmer, but leased from the U.S. Department of Natural Resources, current owner .

Where to Park

Park at the MARC "station" in Boyds, on the South side of the tracks, behind the General Store.

1.  Boyds
This extensive hiker/biker trail begins at the MARC station in Boyds. You may wish to divide the trail into different segments, some biked, some hiked and some by motor vehicle. Along the trail, you will see exquisite beauty, historical farms, nature at her finest and a trash heap among other sights. Please respect private property. “No Trespassing” means it is okay to stop and appreciate the history and beauty but it’s not okay to set one foot on the private side of the sign.

2.  The Trail Begins
You will exit from the MARC parking lot onto a small piece of Clopper Road.   Turn right, and you will be on the beginning of White Ground Road and the start of our trail. This is also a segment of MNCPPC’s Hoyles Mill Trail, beginning at Black Hills Park to the North. After about 1/2 mile on White Ground Road, as you pass the signage for Hoyle's Mill Conservation Park, turn left onto Hoyle’s Mill Road. IN 1/2 mile, you will come to a gate barring motor vehicles, after which the road is gravel.

3.  Little Seneca Creek Bridge
This bridge was built by MNCPPC in 2008 as part of the Hoyle’s Mill Hiker/Biker Trail, and is the location of the former ford on the creek that was used until the 1980s.

4. Hoyle’s Mill Ruins
If you want to take this side trip, park your bike at the bridge and hike along the creek about half a mile upstream on the left hand side. The ruins are very easy to miss. Look closely for the mill race and follow it to the mill ruins. With your back to the stream, you may see rock chimneys, indicating the ruins of the Hoyle house. Close to the water you may locate the grinding stone, partially sunk into the ground. There are additional foundations. Take pictures but DO NOT REMOVE ANYTHING.

Back at the bridge, continue on the road to the second gate (East entrance to the Conservation Park). Here you will view the edges of Germantown: You have traveled from the 18th to the 21st century.

5. Soccerplex
From Hoyle’s Mill Road, work your way through the subdivision to the Soccerplex.  Turn left onto Bubbling Spring, right on Crestmont, right on King’s Crossing, right on Cornflower, left on Greene, right on Richter Farm Road. Turn right on Schaeffer Rd. to the Soccerplex.

Explore a little and discover Jim and Macie King’s dairy barn, which is now being restored as  The MOOseum, to be filled with artifacts of  dairy farming.

6. Schaeffer/Savage/Gray Rock Ranch
Schaeffer Road continues south under the PEPCO power lines and then turns west, downhill past the southern edge of the King farm. This section of the farm is now used as an airpark for flying remotely controlled model airplanes – open to the public.

Look for a lane leading into the woods, on the left as you enter Gray Rock Ranch. You will come to a parking area that begins the Schaeffer Farm Trail, maintained by DNR. The DNR lands are used for controlled deer hunting, but also include extensive biker/hiker trails. Information on these can be found at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/maps/schaefferfarmmap.html.

7. Americus Dawson Farm
This historic farmhouse is restored by the tenant who leased the farm from DNR at a modest rate upon agreeing to the restoration.

8. Jones Dairy Ruins
Following Schaeffer Road downhill, on your right appears a cluster of barns and an abandoned farmhouse.

The trail now continues through fields down to Little Seneca Creek. Turn right here and follow White Grounds Road as it first climbs high above Bucklodge Branch and then winds back down to the low, wet areas along the stream.

9. Gott Plantation Ruins
Benjamin Gott owned a large tobacco plantation where slaves tended the crops. Look for the ruins on a hill before the powerlines.

Continue on White Grounds Road, through the historic African American community with their Currier and Ives church and school. “Boyd Negro School” is owned and maintained by the Boyds Historical Society. Peek in the windows for a scene from the early 1900s. Across from the school is Taylor Elementary School. Named for Edward Ulysses Taylor, superintendent of African American education, this was one of the last two schools in the county built during segregation.

Bike through the Victorian village of Boyds to the MARC station and your car.

Side Trip to the Castle
Back in your vehicle, you may wish to see Boyds’ mansion and Germantown’s castle.

Continue straight ahead; White Grounds Road becomes Clopper. Look closely to your left across the tracks toward Seneca Lake and you may glimpse the Victorian mansion built by Mary Totten, the heiress to the Elias Howe sewing machine fortune.

Continue on Clopper, turn right on Richter Farm Road, right on Kings Crossing Blvd, right on Autumn Gold, left on Crossview to the castle on your left, “Red Wall.” Look for the windmill. This is private property; observe from the road only.

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