Soldiers Delight a runner’s delight

Here’s part of the Serpentine Trail at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area. I turned around to take this picture after running this part of the trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I grew up less than 30 minutes away from Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, but I never knew it existed until I did a Google search looking for trails in Carroll County.

Here’s a view from the overlook at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I went to the western shore for a Friendsgiving gathering on Saturday, and after staying over with my mom and stepdad, I wanted to run on a new trail on Sunday before returning to Salisbury. Soldiers Delight, in the Owings Mills area, was pretty much on my way back. It’s not in Carroll County — it’s in Baltimore County — but it wasn’t far.

I parked at the visitor center. When I was talking to one of the people at the desk and told her I was planning to run on the trails, she mentioned they were very rocky. I said that was fine — I didn’t mind slowing down some.

I didn’t realize just how rocky the trail would be. The amount of rocks on the trail was insane.

This is an example of how rocky the trail is. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

But it was fun to be in tune with nature, and like I had told the woman at the desk, I really didn’t mind going slow.

I had originally planned to run 10 miles, and because of my pace and the tough terrain of the trails, I decided to do seven instead.

My pace was just under 14 minutes per mile, but I didn’t stop my watch to take photos or when I walked. I did stop it once, at an overlook.

Living in Salisbury, I’m also not used to the hills. According to my watch, I gained 442 feet of elevation during my run, which also included some walking.

Early on in the run, I took a wrong turn and ended up being stuck by a sticker bush or something similar. I was left with some scratches, mainly on my right knee, but nothing that stopped me from continuing my run.

Here I am at one of the creek crossings. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I followed the Serpentine Trail first, then went to the overlook — which was most of the way through that trail — and crossed Deer Park Road, where I ran on the Choate Mine Trail, Dolfield Trail and Red Run Trail. (Here’s a trail map.)

On the Serpentine Trail and later, there were times when I had to cross small creeks by using rocks that were sticking up above the water. I also ended up getting into some mud, and my shoes and socks were full of mud by the end of the run.


I felt connected with nature as I was on the run, so it was very strange when, near the intersection of the Dolfield Trail and Red Run Trail, I came across the backs of townhouses.

While I didn’t go up there, it was crazy to think that people live so close to what seemed like a natural wilderness.

When I continued from there, I made my way through deep leaves.

Here’s a woodsy view from the opposite side of Deer Park Road than the Serpentine Trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Although it did feel somewhat remote, I didn’t feel unsafe, because I saw different people hiking the trails, and there were a decent amount of cars at the visitor center and overlook. It was also pretty open, not tight woods.

Here I am near the 1912 cabin near the end of my run. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

By the time I got back to the visitor center, where I had parked, I wasn’t quite at 7 miles, so I went toward a cabin that had a sign on it saying it had been built in 1912, which was cool.

I’d been wanting to do a trail run recently, and my wish was fulfilled with this run. I’m glad I decided to do that Google search and came across this new nature area.

My muddy shoes and socks after the run. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

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