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Thursday, December 16, 2021

Fossil Beach on the Potomac River

Kathy found another Fossil Beach!  This one is in Virginia's Westmoreland State Park, on the south shore of the Potomac River.  We have visited another DC-area beach with sharks' tooth fossils in this area -- Calvert Cliffs State Park in Maryland, by ourselves in 2012, and with Matt and William in 2020.

The weather today was supreme -- full sun and about 70F during the mid-afternoon!  We thought it would be great for an outing to beachcomb and see if Kathy could find another shark's tooth.

It was about an hour's drive to the state park and the trailhead from our campground near Fredericksburg, but well worth the drive.  Here we are starting our hike to Fossil Beach on the Big Meadow Trail:

This trail worked its way down toward the Potomac River, through riparian forest of oaks, birch, sycamore, pine, sweetgum and the like.  The park posted signs to identify trees along the trail.

It was about 0.6 miles through the forest, over a rolling terrain, to the beach on the Potomac River.  When we arrived, we were greeted by some windblown fir trees and some trail magic -- a plastic sieve that would be perfect for sifting sand to hunt for sharks' teeth!

When we got to the beach, we found a young mother and her two kids playing on the beach, taking an adventure day while her husband worked at a nearby military base.  We focused on trying to get across Big Meadow Run to explore the far reaches of the beach:

We found some fallen tree trunks we could throw across the stream to cross it, but before leaving the near side of the beach, Kathy tried "panning" for sharks' teeth at the mouth of the creek:

Once across the stream, we trained our sights on a sandy cliff at the end of the beach:

Driftwood of all sizes decorated the beach:

The cliff beckoned with its dramatic beauty:

While Kathy hunted fossils, David climbed the cliff to get a birds' eye view of the near shoreline.  The Maryland state border with Virginia follows that waterline:

Below David's cliffside perch, Kathy was busy hunting for souvenirs:

Kathy's view of David's vantage point looked something like this:

We finished our exploration and worked our way back across the informal bridge we built over Big Meadow Run:

Another 0.6 mile hike back to the Visitor Center, and it was time for lunch:

But this was not all of our adventure!  We found a 3-mile hike in the park on Turkey Neck Trail to walk off our lunch:

This trail was in the Upland Forest, with pine, holly, oak, laurel and other dry-loving trees and bushes:

Toward the furthest point of our walk out Turkey Neck Trail, we spotted a bench with a view of the Big Meadow Run valley.  Kathy took a short rest and enjoyed the view:

From here, it was only about 1.5 miles back to the trailhead.  We made our way home, walked the cats and are sitting back, enjoying our memories of this beautiful late Autumn hike.

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