The Potomac-Garrett State Forest is calling you to come and hike the 3.5 mile Lostlands Trail to the Potomac River. Pull off the socks and shoes and dip your toes in the icy headwaters of the North Branch of the Potomac River which divides Maryland and West Virginia. Listen closely and you might hear the ghosts of George Washington traveling to set the Fairfax Stone. Hike back on the dirt access road and take a side trip to see the ghost remains of the CCC built fish hatchery in the forest. www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/potomacguide.html.
Get back to your vacation house rented from Railey Mountain Lake Vacations www.rentals.deepcreek.com or Long & Foster Deep Creek Rentals www.deepcreekresort.com/ and take a quick swim in Deep Creek Lake before getting dressed for dinner. Enjoy the best offering of the day from Chef Jason Fickes at the Will O’ The Wisp www.willothewisp.com or take a short drive into Oakland to sample the offerings at the legendary and historic Cornish Manor Restaurant www.thecornishmanor.com .
Wake up in the morning and head down into Friendsville for a hike up the Kendall Trail www.garretttrails.org/northern-region-trails.html along one of Maryland’s only scenic and wild rivers, the Youghiogheny River. Stop for coffee and breakfast at the coffee & bakery next to the Riverside Hotel www.riversidehotel.us/about.html Enjoy yourself and nature!
Getting there: Traveleing west on I-68 West in Hancock. Go 69 miles on I-68, exit south on U.S. Highway 219 toward Deep Creek Lake, and go 26 miles to Oakland, Maryland. Stay on US 219 when it turns left in Oakland; when US 219 turns right outside of town, go straight onto Maryland Highway 135. In about 2 miles, turn right onto MD 560 just outside of Mountain Lake Park. In 2 miles, turn left onto Bethlehem Road (staying right at the fork at 2 miles). In 1.4 miles, turn left onto Combination Road, then in half a mile, turn left onto Potomac Camp Road. The forest headquarters is about a mile further on the left. To find the trailhead from the parking area, cross the road and walk 75 feet back up the road; look for a wooden marker.
Here’s a terrific little hike for people of all ages. It packs into a small package some of the outstanding features of hiking the Allegheny Front, including a stretch along one of the eastern United States’s most notable whitewater rivers, the Youghiogheny. There are picnic tables and a pavilion, so a prehike picnic makes for a real kid pleaser. Start off in the cool old-world Hemlock Groves of Swallow Falls State Park in Southern Garrett County www.stateparks.com/swallow_falls_garrett.html.
The trailhead is just beyond the comfort station and kiosk at the north end of the parking area. Traveling southeast (right) from the kiosk, immediately find yourself in a stand of huge, ancient hemlocks and white pines. To protect these 300-year-old trees and their ecosystem, the 40-acre grove is designated a Sensitive Management Area, which means the grove is managed as a wilderness. Trees are allowed to fall or burn as nature wills; only trees blocking trail access are cleared.
Head past the former camping site of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone on this loop trail which passes Muddy Creek Falls the tallest waterfall in Maryland. Hike past large boulders and rock outcroppings enjoying the magnificent beauty of the area. Remember to pack your camera to capture the memories.
Head north on Hwy 219 to Deep Creek Lake for lunch at Brenda’s Pizzeria www.brendaspizzeria.com Enjoy New York Style Pizza or mouth watering baked ziti.
Getting there: From Interstate 68, take exit 14A and drive 19 miles south on Maryland Highway 219, passing Deep Creek Lake; turn right onto Mayhew Inn Road. Drive 4.3 miles north, and then turn left onto Sang Run Road. In 0.25 mile, turn right onto Swallow Falls Road (Garrett County 20), which leads west to the park entrance in 4.7 miles.
Are you up for a challenge? Then bike south from the Wisp Resort www.wispresort.com and up over Marsh Mountain to Fork Run Recreation Area. This is a 550 acre forested wilderness managed by the Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) www.adventuresportscenter.com. A trail head map awaits you in the parking lot area. Head out along the ridge past the rock climbing area and enjoy Phase 1 and 2 of this newer single track built by Garrett Trails www.garretttrails.org. Plans are in the works for more of this awesome IMBA style single track.
Cool off after your ride by booking a whitewater rafting trip at ASCI on the only mountaintop re-circulating whitewater rafting/kayaking course. Take a swim in the pool with the kids at the Garrett College Community Aquatic and Recreation Complex www.gccarc.com or just relax with a spa treatment at the Sewickley Spa at WISP Resort http://www.sewickleyspa.com. Hungry after an exhilarating day of adventure? Grab dinner at the charming chalet style DC’s Bar & Restaurant www.wispresort.com/wisp/info/dining.aspx or head over to the Mountain State Brewery http://www.mountainstatebrewing.com/deepcreek.html for a rustic experience with tasty microbrew beers and flatbread pizza. Whatever your choice, there’s plenty of outdoor activities in Garrett County.
In the morning wake up and rent downhill bikes and a lift ticket. Check out the great offering of lift served downhill mountain bike trails on Wisp Mountain.
From Pittsburgh(via Uniontown, Pa.): U.S. 51 South to Uniontown, PA. Take U.S. 40 East to Keyer’s Ridge. Take U.S. 219 South 16 miles to McHenry. Turn Right on Sang Run Road. Follow signs 1/2 mile to Wisp on Marsh Hill Road.
From Baltimore: 1-70 to Hancock, MD to I-68 West & Cumberland. Exit 14A to U.S. 219 South 16 miles to McHenry. Turn Right on Sang Run Road. Follow signs 1/2 mile to Wisp on Marsh Hill Road.
From DC Metro: I-270 to Frederick, MD. Take I-70 West to Hancock, MD to I-68 West and Cumberland. Take Exit 14A to U.S. 219 South 16 miles to McHenry. Turn Right on Sang Run Road. Follow signs 1/2 mile to Wisp on Marsh Hill Road.
Exlpore the trails of Garrett County, Md., on amazing mountain bike trails. Start your morning off with coffee and breakfast sandwiches from Trader’s Coffee House www.traderscoffeehouse.com on Deep Creek Lake as the hard core water-skiers are finishing up and coming for their post-pull coffees.
After coffee and lattés are enjoyed, head north on Garrett Highway 219 to the small town of Accident where you will find some awesome single track at the Margraff Plantation www.garretttrails.org/northern-region-trails.html which is part of Savage River State Forest. This trail loops around the top of a ridge above a natural gas storage site with views of hardwood forests intermixed with plantation pines which were planted by the CCC many years ago as part of substandard farm reclamation project.
Look closely in the woods and you will see the rock fences built as the farmers cleared the land over 100 years ago. Notice the large trees that grew out of these fence lines. The trail is fast with hard climbs. There are several technical rock gardens. Experienced riders allow 2 hours ride time.
Grab lunch at Hartman’s Gas Station or Annie’s Kitchen in Accident or head south on Hwy 219 and dine on a hearty flatbread sandwich at Santa Fe Grill near the Deep Creek Lake Visitors Center. Enjoy your day.
To reach Traders Coffee House from points north: Traveling from I-68 (Friendsville, Accident and McHenry), follow Rt. 219 south to the Deep Creek Lade bridge. Cross the bridge and travel half a mile. The shop is on the right.
From points south: Traveling from Oakland and Southern Garrett County, follow Rt. 219 norht to Glendale Road and continue on Rt. 219 for 1.7 miles. The shop is on the left.