Columbia Air Center Loop Hike through Patuxent River Park is a 4.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Upper Marlboro, Maryland that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Aviation history, tons of trails, artifacts One of the first African-American-Owned airfields "Columbia Air Center" operated here during and after WW 2--and participating in the Civil Air Patrol--training other pilots. What you'll see on this hike is history signs with photos and a memorial to these great pioneers in aviation history. Starting at the memorial, head up the road, then get a bit dirty as you go to the offroad trail section. The offroad trail section can be made into a larger loop by combining other trails as necessary. You will encounter multiple artifacts including a J-3 Cub partial airframe, mixer assembly, and other assorted things that have absolutely no value and cannot be taken away easily. All artifacts here are protected by the state and are illegal to remove. that being said, they have no value and have lots of rust on them. The single airframe has been picked clean by their owners long ago (as the legend tells us online). After the artifacts trail, you venture around the airfield towards Patuxent river. At Patuxent river you can have a packed lunch at the Gazebo, or continue on the easy to walk on road. The road takes us to the camping area and then back to the parking lot. These true pioneers in aviation history leave a plethora of memories celebrated in this section of Patuxent River Park--and their dedication and love of aviation can clearly be seen in the memorial photos and history presentation.
Lovely hike! We were the only ones on the trail, so had to battle spiderwebs. Relics were very interesting and spread throughout the Red and Blue trails. Red trail circles the airfield, but this picks up the orange trail at the switch back to the parking area. Will definitely do this again.
5 stars for the true pioneers of African-American Aviation history!! (and the artifacts they left behind that we can visit)