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Escape Keys: Gunpowder Falls State Park

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

GETTING THERE: Gunpowder Falls State Park is about 20 minutes from the Baltimore Beltway. Take Interstate 95 north to Exit 67A, bear right on the ramp and continue to Route 40 east. From Route 40, turn right at the first light, Ebenezer Road. Follow Ebenezer 4.5 miles to Gunpowder Falls State Park Hammerman Area on the left. (You'll see the sign for Ultimate Watersports.) Continue on the park road through the gatehouse to the sign for Ultimate Watersports parking. Park admission is $3 for Maryland residents, $4 nonresidents.

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GETTING ON BOARD: Ultimate Watersports (410-335-5352, http://www.ultimatewatersports.com) offers a variety of windsurfing instruction. We signed up for the six-hour Guaranteed to Learn Windsurf Program, offered weekends through September ($145 per person). Reservations are required; owner Hal Ashman suggests calling at least two weeks ahead. Lesson fees include all equipment rentals. (Bring your own water shoes.)

Ultimate Watersports also offers kayaking, sailing and rowing; check the Web site for details.

IN THE PARK: In addition to swimming at the sandy, guarded beaches at the Hammerman Area, Gunpowder Falls has plenty of other recreational options. The Hereford Area, about 30 minutes from Hammerman by car, offers world-class trout fishing, and cyclists can bike the 20-mile wooded Northern Central Railroad Trail. For details, visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us or call 800-830-3974.

WHERE TO EAT: At the snack bar on the hill beside Ultimate Watersports, the menu is basic and budget-priced. For air-conditioned booths, table-side jukeboxes (Beach Boys optional) and an endless menu, try the White Marsh Double-T Diner, at Ebenezer Road and Route 40.

WHERE TO STAY: Accommodations in nearby White Marsh include the Hampton Inn (from $149 per night, 410-931-2200); Hilton Garden Inn (from $127, 410-427-0600) and Residence Inn by Marriott (from $149, 410-933-9554).

-- C.D.


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