At a Glance

Hours: 9 am to sunset.

Cost: Free.

Tips: Hunting is carried out on portions of Soldiers Delight; be aware of hunting seasons and plan your visit accordingly. ◾ Nocturnal breeding species may be found at dusk by walking trails from a small parking area on Deer Park Road north of the main entrance. ◾ Some low-lying portions of trail may be muddy and many trails have gravel surfaces and may be somewhat slippery. Waterproof hiking shoes or boots are recommended. A hiking staff may be helpful on the steep portions of trails.

Best Seasons: Year-round.

Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Reisterstown CW, Reisterstown SW

Local MOS Chapter: Baltimore Bird Club

Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area

5100 Deer Park Road, Owings Mills, MD 21117
(410) 461-5005

Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area (NEA) protects a treasured habitat.  It is managed by the MD Department of Natural Resources and is comprised of 1,900 acres of serpentine barrens, representing the largest serpentine barrens in the state and one of the few examples on the east coast of this rare environment. The ground in the barrens area is underlain by serpentine, a bedrock high in magnesium and deficient in essential plant nutrients, leading to growth of a scrubby, sparse grassland. The mineral composition of the soil supports a unique plant community adapted to these conditions.

Soldiers Delight hosts over 39 rare, threatened, or endangered plant species, as well as rare insects, rocks, and minerals. Prescribed burning is being used to return the area to natural serpentine habitat. In addition to the serpentine barrens themselves, there are surrounding buffer areas of deciduous forest. Seven miles of marked hiking trails wind through Soldiers Delight. Equestrians and cyclists are prohibited due to the fragile nature of the environment.

Birdlife:

Over 185 species have been reported on eBird from Soldiers Delight. The rare habitats harbor nesting birds that are adapted to scrub-shrub conditions, including Prairie Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, American Woodcock, and Whip-poor-will. Other nesting species include Ovenbird, Black-and-white Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, and Pine Warbler as well as Scarlet and Summer Tanagers.

Additional warblers are featured as spring migration heats up. Winter sometimes brings good numbers of Golden-crowned Kinglet and Red-breasted Nuthatch to the pines. During migration, the best trails are through the deciduous woods in the western part of the property.

Parking:

Paved and unpaved lots.  See Trail Map link at left.

Special Features:

Soldiers Delight offers a wheelchair-accessible visitor center, parking lot, and nature trail. ◾ Some of the trails are hilly and gravel-surfaced; a walking stick may be helpful when hiking. ◾ Fun fact: the name “Soldiers Delight” dates back to colonial times, and may refer to soldiers in the service of the King of England who patrolled the area. ◾ Soldiers Delight NEA is part of the Patapsco Valley Important Bird Area (IBA). ◾ The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Baltimore Bird Club. The Baltimore Bird Club is the founding chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, and remains an important hub of birding activity in the state. The club offers monthly meetings with informative presentations and a full schedule of field trips and bird walks, all free and open to the public.

Directions:

From the Baltimore Beltway/I-695 take Exit 18 for MD Route 26/Liberty Road; go west on Liberty for 4 miles. After crossing Marriottsville Road, bear right (north) onto Deer Park Road just before a traffic light and water tower. Travel north on Deer Park approximately 2 miles to the Visitor/Nature Center entrance on the left.

Nearby Sites:

Liberty Reservoir CWMA – Baltimore County; Liberty Reservoir CWMA – Bollinger Mill Road; Morgan Run NEA; Irvine Nature Center; Piney Run Park; Oregon Ridge Park; Milford Mill Park (aka Villa Nova Park); Lake Roland; Cylburn Arboretum.

Habitats:

Bottomland DeciduousConifersUpland Deciduous Garden or Arboretum Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Rivers & Streams

Features:

BeginnersBird Feeding StationFree - No Entry FeeHabitat Restoration ProjectHiking/Walking TrailsHuntingNative Plant Garden or Meadow/Pollinator PlantsNature Education ProgramsParkingPets AllowedRestroomsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families

Type:

Audubon Important Bird AreasHunting AreasState Natural Areas & WildlandsState Parks