Monday, June 30, 2014

Little Bennett Campground & Sugarloaf Mountain

This past weekend we decided to make an impromptu trip out to the edge of the DC metro area for our first family summer camping experience.  It was only about an hour away from us, but a totally new area for us called Clarksburg, Maryland.  We picked Little Bennett Campground there based on it being 50% off (I'll do anything for a coupon) as part of the Great American Backyard Campout event. 

I've never really camped in the prime of summer before, and was overly worried about the heat and the bugs.  But slathering us and our campsite with bug protectant, and sticking to the shade while outside made it a very enjoyable time.

We checked in right at noon on Saturday and made our way to site A8 (we decided near a bathhouse was best with our four year old).  The boys all busily set up the campground while I put together our walking tacos for lunch.  After we were fed and set up, we headed through the woods along the Nature Trail to get to the Hawk's Reach Activity Center were Theo got to make a bug box craft.

 Afterwards, we took Little Oak Trail to Big Oak Trail to Stoney Brook Trail which brought us back around to our campsite loop.  Altogether it was about a 2.5 mile, fairly easy trek.  With lots of different mushrooms to learn about and compare features.

 Despite being so tired from the hike that both boys needed to ride on daddy's shoulders, they both ran right up to the playground and had enough energy left to play some more at the end of the trail.

Afterwards we grilled some hamburgers over the quickly put together fire (another benefit of summer camping, the wood seems much better), and then headed back to the activity center for an ice cream social featuring root beer floats.  As always, our four year old was much more social than us, finding a boy to talk with based on the character t-shirt he was wearing (Legos, which we just saw at the dollar theatre).  I think this was the first time Theo had a root beer float, and of course he loved it (poor Eli just got the ice cream).

After some more campfire time, we all hit the tent.  Eli had a hard time sleeping so near to us (which meant mama did as well), but Theo slept like a rock at the edge of the tent as always and never stirred once.

After a dry night (we were surprised there didn't seem to be any dew), we woke up, had breakfast, and started packing up.  We didn't really have any plans for the day, but eventually decided that the nearby Sugarloaf Mountain sounded like a great place to spend a little more time hiking.  We figured at only 1282 feet, it's not too much for our 4 year old and almost 2 year old to manage.

We drove up to the last parking lot (West View), and just randomly started out on some trails, not planning to take a lot of time.  But we ended up hiking for more than two hours, heading up the blue trail toward McCormack Overlook, then taking the red trail up to a great vista at the top.  It was a little steep in some parts, and very rocky in others, but very doable for the boys.  The vista at the top was pretty rewarding.

Theo for some reason decided it was an Arizona mountain when he saw the view... he's got some surprises in store when we finally get to visit Phoenix with him.

Our last stop of the trip, was a quick stop at the nearby Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard that we had spied on the way to the mountain.  A quick check to their website said they were kid friendly, dog friendly, and you were welcome to picnic there.  This sounded perfect for our needs, and we had our mid-day meal at a picnic table neighboring their rows of grape vines, with a glass of wine.  (We didn't do them, but tastings are 8 for $10, fyi.)  It was so fabulous to get to relax at such a beautiful winery after a couple of days being outdoors.  Easily stopping at roadside wineries is definitely something I miss most from my pre-parenting, pre-pet-owner days, but this place was just a perfect stop for our family.  And the cherry on top of a beautiful weekend with my boys.


Elizabeth said...

Love it! I can tell that you are definitely smaller :). You go girl!! Eli is starting to look like you more and more every day.

Shannon E said...

It was nice to be in better shape for hiking, made it a lot more enjoyable. I can't believe how blond Eli still is right now.