The 54,000 acre Savage River State Forest encompasses much of eastern Garrett County in western Maryland. The rugged, mountainous terrain, typical of western Pennsylvania's Allegheny Plateau region is forested with pine plantations and mixed hardwoods of red maple, hickory, oak and rhododendron thickets. 12,000 acres of the State Forest have been designated as State Wildlands. Flowing through the area are native trout streams and the forest supports a wildlife population that includes black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcat, raccoon, hawk, owl and over 100 other bird species.
As the largest state forest in Maryland, there are many opportunities for outdoor recreation of all kinds. In the summer months, a hike or mountain bike ride on cool, shaded forested routes and along secluded stream valleys is a relief. In the Fall, the Savage River State Forest is a premier outdoor destination as leaf peepers flock to the trails of the western Maryland mountains for spectacular fall foliage. Because Savage River State Forest is situated within a "frost pocket", a wet winter season can bring over 120 inches of snowfall, providing ideal conditions for winter sports activities such as xc skiing and snow shoeing.
Facilities in the state forest include primitive campsites, boat launches for fishing and paddling at the Savage River Reservoir, guided canoe trips and outfitters. Two state parks; New Germany and Big Run, offer more developed campgrounds with cabins, picnic areas and water recreation.
Savage River State Forest Trails:
There are miles of long distance trails and trail networks for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling within the Savage River State Forest. Mountain bikes are allowed on all hiking trails in the forest except for Monroe Run and Big Savage. Many of the trails are gravel woods roads that are also open for non-motorized cycling. Some of these routes may be open to motor vehicles at certain times. ORVs or ATVs are are restricted to use of designated ORV trails (permit required). Use extreme caution, especially on blind curves.
The Forest covers a large area, so there isn’t one particular access point. Refer to the individual trails listed below or see the list above for the Best Trails in Savage River State Forest for Mountain Biking.
Mountain Biking / Hiking
Margraff Plantation Trails: 7.5 miles. Intermediate
Margraff features challenging singletrack trails that range from fast, twisty and hard-packed to technical sections with log piles, rocks and roots. The many gravel roads that crisscross the area offer easier off-road cycling. See Margraff Plantation Trail Description for more details.
Stream crossings and uneven terrain make the Negro Mountain Trail a challenge for hikers and mountain bikers. It is open for snowmobiling in winter.
Mountain Biking / Hiking / Cross Country Skiing
New Germany State Park Trails: 10 miles. Intermediate
The groomed circuit trail system was designed primarily for cross-country skiers during the winter. During the warmer months, hikers and mountain bikers enjoy a variety of terrain and scenery ranging from the easy, flat Green Trail along Poplar Lick to the more challenging steep terrain of the Red Trail or Dynamite Shack Trails. Access is from various parking lots, depending on trails used. See New Germany State Park Trails for more details.
Mt. Aetna Tract Trails: 7.6 miles. Intermediate
This scenic, 700 acre area offers a good opportunity for mountain biking on several loop trails. The terrain is diverse, mostly for the intermediate rider. These are excellent trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. A private lodge with guest cabins, restaurant and outdoor outfitter services lies within this tract. See Mt Aetna Tract Trails for more details.
If you want to get away from the more heavily used New Germany trails, try the more remote Asa Durst Trails for backcountry snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or mountain biking. The rolling terrain winds along stream valleys bordered by rhododendrons and through forested landscapes punctuated by stands of pine and spruce. Detailed maps of the access roads are available from the forest headquarters.
This was originally a road created for fire control. Elevation fluctuates over the length of this rocky trail. The 4-mile section near I-68 known as East Shale Road is open to ORVs. The remaining 8 miles, southwest of New Germany Road, are only open for non-motorized use (except for snowmobiles during the winter). This section of the trail follows along the crest of Meadow Mountain.
Poplar Lick Trail : 6 miles. Intermediate
This old woods road, built by the CCC in the 1930s, runs for 6 miles between New Germany State Park and the Savage River. The trailhead is located several miles south of the New Germany State Park entrance. See Poplar Lick Trail Description for more details.
Best Hiking Trails in the Savage River State Forest
The Monroe Run Trail (8 miles), and the Big Savage Trail (17 miles), are both open only to hikers. Monroe Run is a former connection road built by the CCC in the 1930s. The trail can be accessed in New Germany State Park. There are frequent stream crossings with no bridges.
Big Savage Trail is a popular backpacking route through upland forest, farmsteads and rocky terrain. Bring plenty of water.
IMPORTANT TRAIL NOTES
Be prepared for changeable weather conditions. Bring warm clothing, rain gear a first aid kit and good map. Detailed water resistant, rip-proof topographic maps (recommended) are available for purchase at the Maryland State Forest website or at Headquarters across the road from the New Germany State Park entrance (see for more information below). Trail users are encouraged to wear blaze orange during fall hunting season.
The FY-2008 Annual Forest Management Plan for Savage River State Forest was formulated during the fall and winter of 2005/2006 in order to achieve a healthy balance between public demand for outdoor recreation, while promoting improved forest and trail stewardship and conservation ethics among all the user groups. Some of the trails listed above may be closed to certain uses, others will be undergoing necessary improvements or re-routed in sections to eliminate existing conflicts.
All of these projects are open for public comment through the annual work plan process. Some of the more complex projects will require extended periods and processes of environmental review, or may require regulatory changes.
Where To Stay:
Camping: There are numerous primitive camping sites throughout Savage River SF.
Big Run State Park: Located just 16 miles from exit 24 of Interstate 68. Outdoor enthusiasts consider this the ideal base camp from which to launch outdoor activities in Savage River State Forest. Here, Big Run meets the 350-acre Savage River Reservoir, which provides crystal clear mountain water for boating and fishing. Below the dam, where the Savage River drops an average of 75 feet per mile, experienced kayakers and canoers find white water thrills on the steep and narrow run that has been the scene of Olympic trials. Savage River Road follows along the entire 4.5 mile run.
The trailhead for the popular 6 mile linear Monroe Run hiking trail which travels between New Germany and Big Run State Park, along a scenic trout stream through a secluded stream valley can be accessed at Big Run.
New Germany State Park: More developed campgrounds with hot showers and cabins.
Area Lodging: There are many unique towns and villages surrounding Savage River State Forest where you can find lodging, shopping, restaurants and adventure outfitters.
Savage River Lodge: a private facility located in the heart of the Mt. Aetna Tract with guest cabins, restaurant & bar and guide services.
Grantsville: Antique & craft shops, good restaurants, motel, bed & breakfast.
Frostburg: Historic main street with many turn-of-the-century homes. Access to Allegheny Highlands Trail with link to the Great Allegheny Passage at Frostburg (to Pittsburgh) and to the C&O Canal Trail at Cumberland (to Washington DC).
There are many things to do and places to see in the Savage River State Forest and surrounding areas.
Bear Creek Fish Hatchery
956 Fish Hatchery Road
See other trails for mountain biking in the Savage River State Forest listed above or Western Maryland Region Mountain Bike Trails for more suggestions.
For more information:
The Savage River office is accessible from Interstate 68, exit 22. (Approximately 12 miles west of Frostburg, MD.
Savage River State Forest
Phone: (301) 895-5453
New Germany State Park
Phone: (301) 895-5453