Big Savage Mountain Trail is a white-blazed forested hike of 17 miles that can be accomplished in a day's time or experienced as an overnight adventure. Parking lots at both ends afford a car-shuttle drop-off spot. As you hike, be sure to keep an eye on the blazes, there are stretches where the white markers wane. The hike through the Allegheny Plateau has an average elevation of 2,500 feet with an average elevation change of 1,300 feet. Most of the northern trail is rocky and rough while the southern path is softer underfoot. As you trek through the forest, there are times when you'll feel secluded only to realize a nearby powerline, home or road is several yards away. Despite several visual intrusions, most of the journey is a desolate grandeur of unruffled calm. The botanical bounty along the trail warrants a closer look. Hemlocks grace the higher elevations while spring-blooming azaleas dot the floor amid lower reaches. Mingled in with the azaleas, look for false hellebore, wintergreen, columbine, and a flooring of ferns and lichen-covered rocks. The trail wanders along a number of ascents and descents affording a number of leaf-filtered views. Twelve miles into the hike, if hiking southbound, High Rock Fire Tower Road may be taken for a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. This is one of Maryland's most remarkable sights. To the west lies Meadow Mountain and beyond it, Negro Mountain. To the southwest is Maryland's highest point at 3,360 feet, Backbone Mountain. Rising in the east is Dan's Mountain and to the north is Elbow Mountain. To increase your enjoyment of the area, field guides to birds, trees and flowers are suggested, along with binoculars and cameras. The southern trailhead is at the base of Savage River Reservoir, visible several miles prior to reaching the parking lot on Savage River Road.
More detailed trail notes are available by calling Savage River State Forest at 301-895-5759.
Directions: From Frostburg, MD, Take Interstate 68 west to exit 29. Take Beall School Road south less than 1 mile to T. Turn left (east) onto Old Beall School Road. Travel several hundred yards bearing right at the fork and proceeding uphill. As you proceed up the gradual hill, the road changes from state-maintained to private. Immediately before this change over, notice the small unmarked road to the left that makes a sharp ascent. Take this road to a small parking lot and trailhead location.
Elevation: 2,500 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
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Savage River State Forest, Maryland
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