Belle Grove WMA (Little Orleans, Md.)

The sign at the parking area goes over the rules and regulations.  Don't look for trail maps, though.  You can hike here when hunting isn't in season, but there aren't any real trails.

The sign at the parking area goes over the rules and regulations. Don’t look for trail maps, though. You can hike here when hunting isn’t in season, but there aren’t any real trails.

Belle Grove WMA is a 355 acre tract of land located off of the Orleans exit on I-68.  The parking area is on Turkey Farm Road, which is fitting because the area was once used to raise wild turkeys for re-populating other areas.  The really aren’t any marked trails on this property;  instead, hikers have a dirt access road and game clearings to follow.

A short re-telling of the interesting story behind the Belle Grove Wildlife Management Area

A short re-telling of the interesting story behind the Belle Grove Wildlife Management Area

For a change-of-pace, non-hunters can follow Turkey Farm Road back to the parking lot, completing a narrow loop of 1.4 relatively flat miles.  We chose this short walk because today was an ugly, rainy day, and the late start would have made a longer walk a problem.

This is part of a large game clearing at the top of the ridge

This is part of a large game clearing at the top of the ridge

The interstate is within earshot, and the road that bisects this public land has a considerable amount of traffic:  even when alone, this is not a quiet, secluded walk in the woods.  Nevertheless, the former turkey farm produced an interesting sighting.  About halfway around, a loud beating of wings was followed by a large turkey taking off from the top of a nearby tree.

We didn't explore the "other" side of the road, but Belle Grove has a "gamey" feel to it.  I'm pretty sure that anybody visiting would see something of interest.  Deer are said to be plentiful, as are rabbits and turkey.  There seems to be plenty to eat, so even seeing a bear wouldn't be surprising.

We didn’t explore the “other” side of the road, but Belle Grove has a “gamey” feel to it. I’m pretty sure that anybody visiting would see something of interest. Deer are said to be plentiful, as are rabbits and turkey. There seems to be plenty to eat, so even seeing a bear wouldn’t be surprising.

We live close to Sleepy Creek in West Virginia, so we’re very used to hiking in wildlife management areas.  It’s very well equipped for hikers, but Belle Grove appears to be set up primarily for hunters.  Today, that wasn’t a problem.  We managed to stretch our legs, and seeing a wild turkey taking a long, elevated flight isn’t an everyday occurrence.  That alone made this a good hike on an otherwise bad day.

A nice stretch along Turkey Farm Road!

A nice stretch along Turkey Farm Road!

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