Big Savage Mountain, MD Backpacking Trip

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This hike was led by Charlie Johnson and occurred April 19-21, 1996. It was a 17 miler along the ridge of Big Savage Mountain near Cumberland, MD. Participants were Jerry Robey, Doug Knowles, Bill Isham and his wife Chris, Mike Calabrese, John Lawrence, Charlie Johnson, Keith Patterson and his wife Nikki. We met on Friday afternoon at Rocky Gap State Park near Flintstone, MD. We camped out there that night and then ate breakfast the next morning at Bob Evans in Cumberland, MD. From there we drove to the trailhead, parked our cars and began the hike.
Group picture at the end of the hike.
I was asked by the PATC to measure this hike with a measuring wheel for an upcoming book on hikes in western MD for them.

At right, it's the end of the hike and everyone is winding down and about to shuttle back to their cars. By Mike Calabrese

It was really hard pushing this measuring wheel for 17.2 miles. Thanks to Jerry R, he took the wheel for 5 of those miles for me.

The terrain was rocky, the elevation changes were substantial, but the scenery was very nice. The trees had not yet bloomed in this area so the landscape was somewhat barren. One interesting thing about this hike is that a US fighter bomber with nuclear weapons on board crashed in this area in 1962. Three of the crew of four survived. All trace of the crash was cleaned up, though.

We did about 10.5 miles the first day and camped out near a stream the first night. It rained a little that night but it didn't effect us. We sat around the fire that night telling jokes and drinking coffee & hot chocolate laced with Samboka.
Group picture at the end of the hike.


At left, a group photo taken at Rocky Gap State Park, MD the afternoon before the hike. By Bill Isham.

The second day was a very easy 7 miles. The first hill was tough but after that the terrain wasn't too bad. We did encounter some blowdowns and blazing problems the last 3 miles or so but other than that no real problems. The best views came on the final two mile descent to the Savage River Dam. The views of the dam as we descended the nine switchbacks of Big Savage Mountain were awesome. When we got to the bottom Charlie J's wife picked us up and shuttled us back to our cars. It took a little longer than usual to do the shuttling because the road that we planned to go on was closed and we had to detour.

A Backpacker magazine review of this trail said that Big Savage Mountain was "...some of the best hiking in Maryland, if not the east coast". I concur with this one hundred percent.


More Pictures


Mike C

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