Chips Trip: Enjoy fall

Oct. 6, 2005, midnight | By Emily-Kate Hannapel | 16 years, 7 months ago

Where: Poolesville, Maryland
How far: About 30 miles or 45 minutes from Blair
Why: Fun, foliage and fresh air

If fall brings to mind the dreaded return to school and the exchange of your favorite flip-flops for sneakers, think again. Fall is a time for drinking apple cider, playing in leaves and frolicking in the fresh air.

Photo: The Farmer's Market is the first stop on the trip. Photo courtesy of Nic Lukehart.

Why not toss aside your textbooks, put away your planner and take a day trip? To help you out, Silver Chips has decided to highlight a few fall activities. The route starts at Blair, and all of the destinations are along River Road. First stop: a serene sit by the C&O Canal, followed by some apple picking, a hayride and some roadside stands. So grab your car keys and your best hiking boots and let's go!

The Farmer's Market

From Blair, get on the Beltway and head west towards Potomac. Take the River Road exit and make a left onto River Road. It's not long before you'll spot the first stop: The Farmer's Market, located at the intersection of River Road and Congressional Parkway (right after the red tractor).

The market sits in an open field, and two small structures shelter its fruits and vegetables. If you're looking for some quality local produce, this is the place to go. The Farmer's Market, open daily through October, has ripe fruit, fresh vegetables and a friendly staff. It also sells flowers, as well as squash and pumpkins. The peaches are a hit, juicy and ideal for a Sunday afternoon snack.

The C&O Canal

The next destination is Swain's Lock on the C&O Canal. To get to the Lock, make a left onto Swain's Lock Road from River Road. It's a small sign, so pay attention. Parking is available down the narrow beaten road.

Photo: The next spot is Swain's Lock, where you can rent canoes or bikes. Photo courtesy of Nic Lukehart.

The canal, built during the 1820s, provides the perfect background for a bike ride or a walk in the shade. Although the canal is no longer used to ship supplies, it continues to remain a popular and well-maintained attraction. The Lock concession stand offers bike rentals for $13 a day and the trails are fun, easy rides. Riders of all ages can bike along the 184-mile canal trail, but be sure to wear a helmet.

For those who wish to enjoy the scenery from the water, boat rentals are available for $10.50 an hour. From the water, you're able to view the wildlife and paddle through an area that was once accessible only to tug-boats and colonial travelers.

Walk along the gravel path and make your way down a slight hill towards the Potomac River. Enjoy the beautiful view of the river beneath the trees and bring a snack or picnic to munch on.

For more information about the C&O Canal, check out or call (301) 739-4200.

Homestead Farm

Photo: End the day with some apple picking at Homestead Farm. Photo courtesy of Nic Lukehart.

The final stop on this fall extravaganza is Homestead Farm. From Swain's Lock, continue on River Road, make a right onto Montevideo Road and then bear right onto Sugarland Road in Poolesville. The 230-acre farm, run by Ben and Maureen Allnutt, grows fruit year-round; apples are currently in season. Grab a bucket and make your way to the trees. It's recommended to come during the week, when the farm is less crowded and to bring sunscreen and bug spray.

The farm offers pumpkins and hayrides in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter months. The farm also has chickens, pigs and a turkey.

On the way out, make sure to pick up a caramel apple, honey stick, milkshake or another tasty treat for the ride home.

To find out more about Homestead Farm, visit or call (301) 977-3761. The farm is located at 15600 Sugarland Road.

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Emily-Kate Hannapel. If Emily-Kate were to die tomorrow, she would want to be eating ice cream when it happened. Ben & Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch, to be exact. She is the president and sole member of Blair's Vegetarian Club, a captain of the Varsity Field Hockey Team, … More »

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