What to do in South Mountain State Park

On September 14, 1862, the three most southern wind gaps of South Mountain were the sites of a successful delaying action fought by Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee during their first invasion on the North. The success in holding back Union General George B. McClellan's army allowed Lee time to regroup his forces at Sharpsburg, where the Battle of Antietam occurred a few days later.

This historic park has over 10,000 acres for year-round hiking along the Appalachian Trail. South Mountain, a ridge composed largely of resistant quartzite, posed a formidable obstacle to the early settlers until 1755 when General Edward Braddock and a young surveyor, George Washington, constructed a road over one of its passes. Greenbrier, Washington Monument and Gathland are neighboring state parks along South Mountain. Echo Lake, a small section of South Mountain State Park, is an area that may be reserved for organized youth groups.

A 40-mile segment of the 2,150-mile Appalachian Trail (Maine to Georgia) runs along the ridge of South Mountain, bordering Frederick and Washington counties. The AT is marked with white painted blazes with side trails to shelters marked with blue blazes.

Day hikers may begin excursions at various trailheads located wherever a trail intersects a road. There are overlooks within a short hike of the trailheads on Route 40, Weverton Cliff, Gathland, Route 17, or at Pen-Mar and High Rock. In some areas the terrain can be rocky and rough.

Camping is permitted at any of the five trail shelters or at the Dahlgren Backpackers' Camp. Pets are permitted when on a leash. Hunting is permitted in designated areas only. Loaded weapons are not permitted on the trail or within the safety zone (150 yards from the trail).

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club performs volunteer trail maintenance along the entire trail in South Mountain, and along many of the side trails.

Greenbrier, Washington Monument and Gathland are neighboring state parks along South Mountain. Amenities vary per park.

Recreation
Hiking is the main recreation permitted in South Mountain. Echo Lake, a small section of South Mountain State Park, is an area that may be reserved for organized youth groups.

Location
South Mountain State Park is located along the Blue Ridge near the West Virginia and Virginia state lines.

Climate
Maryland has four distinct seasons with spring and fall being particularly pleasant with low humidity and mild temperatures. The average January temperature ranges between 30 and 34 degrees F (-1 to 1 C) with July averages ranging between 74 degrees F and 80 degrees F. Typically, coastal temperatures are slightly warmer then the western Appalachian Plateau area. Travelers should be aware that winters can become miserably cold and summers can be hazy, hot and humid with afternoon thundershowers.

Address
c/o Greenbrier State Park
21843 National Pike
Boonsboro, MD 21713

Phone: 301-791-4767


  • South Mountain State Park Travel Q&A

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