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Hikers now can make the trek from Prince Frederick to the Chesapeake Bay on a new, 6-mile trail.

On Tuesday, the American Chestnut Land Trust held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Prince Frederick Trailhead, the newest of ACLT’s four gateways to the Parkers Creek Preserve. The trailhead is on the property of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Prince Frederick.

“Everything Calvert County has to offer [can be seen along the trail] and is in abundance,” ACLT Executive Director Karen Edgecombe said at the ribbon cutting.

The trailhead is the starting point of the new 6.1-mile, one-way “PF2BAY Trail” that ends at the ACLT Bay Overlook. Hikers will experience significant changes in elevation throughout the trail and will notice “dry, sandy ridges quickly give way to moist, cool valleys,” according to the trail guide.

“It isn’t a strenuous hike,” Edgecombe said. “It does have its ups and downs, but it is a pleasant hike.”

Edgecombe said the reason the trail is 6.1 miles — much longer than initially anticipated — is because the trail was constructed to avoid stream crossings and steep slopes.

Before the trail joins the Parkers Creek Loop Trail, hikers will cross five footbridges constructed by Boy Scout troops 430 and 903 and Venture Crew 903.

The shortest trail option from the new Prince Frederick Trailhead is a 4.5-mile, one-way hike to ACLT’s North Side Trailhead at 676 Double Oak Road in Prince Frederick.

In total, Edgecombe said at the ribbon cutting ceremony, 1,765 volunteer hours went into the planning, constructing and implementation of the new trailhead and the new barn at Double Oak Farm. That work, she said, is valued at about $40,000 in labor alone.

This trail has been thought of and in the works since the 1990s, Edgecombe said at the ceremony. In the mid to late ’90s, ACLT and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources purchased a number of properties on the north side of Parkers Creek, but that still left a “significant gap” between the preserved property and Prince Frederick, Edgecombe said. Then, in 2004, the county purchased the Goldstein North property with funds from the Maryland Rural Legacy program, adding a “significant link” between the preserved land and Prince Frederick; the county granted ACLT permission for the trail to cross through the property.

In 2009, ACLT applied for and received a grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority to purchase the final 18 acres of land needed to connect Parkers Creek Preserve to Prince Frederick. Later on, the Rev. Peter Daly of St. John Vianney Catholic Church agreed to sell those 18 acres to ACLT and to provide an easement over the church’s property on Main Street to serve as the trailhead.

Volunteer members of the Parkers Creek Conservation Society (ACLT’s hunt club) completed the Bay Overlook in the spring of 2011 with a grant from Dominion Resources. And, in order to connect the trail between Prince Frederick and Parkers Creek, the ACLT had to receive permission from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to cross the company’s right of way.

“This was truly a community service project built by ACLT volunteers, and we are very pleased to be able to provide it to Calvert County for their use and enjoyment,” Edgecombe said.

For more information about the trail and trail maps, or to see trail rules, go to www.acltweb.org, or call 410-414-3400.

ascott@somdnews.com