Green Ridge State Forest, MD Backpacking Trip
At left, Green Ridge Overlook with a great view west of Town Creek.
By Mike Calabrese
There was the remains of a collapsed swinging bridge, a victim of the fall, '96 floods, which was supposed to carry us across the creek. The only way to get across and stay was to remove our boots and socks and wade across with our packs on. This slowed us down but didn't diminish our spirits. The trail stayed along the flood plain and parallelled the creek, gradually climbing above it. There was one particularly hazardous climb over a large rock outcropping that required skill and patience to determine the right footing. Other less bothersome outcroppings followed.
The trail then began to climb above the creek and amongst Hemlock trees. It then took a steep climb with a tree blocking the top. The trail then descended back to the creek, then came to another "T" intersection. To the left was the circuit coming in from the east. We turned right and proceeded south.
The trail followed one side, then the other, of Deep Run. Sometimes, it became difficult maintaining dry feet. The trail was clearly marked with color coded mile markers giving miles hiked and miles to go in a given section.
Crossing over a road beyond a bridge we turned into a nice camping area under a gathering of hemlock. This section of the trail travelled along an overgrown logging train right of way, so the going became easier.
Crossing under a power line right of way, we plunged back into the woods, dodged fallen trees and continued along the stream bed. Passing Mertins Avenue, we kept up a good pace, having gone about 7 miles. 2.5 miles later, we reached Kirk Rd. A steep quarter mile climb to the top brought us to the scenic Green Ridge overlook, where we took a well deserved rest. We thought about staying there for the night. However, with no nearby water, we decided to push southward and get as close to the C&O Canal as we could.
We then travelled along a hillside overlooking Town Creek. This section of the trail is known as "Log Roll", after the logs that were rolled down the hill to float to the nearby mill.
At right, Town Creek Campsite along the C&O Canal toepath.
By Mike Calabrese
The trail drops down into the forest rejoining the forest and Big Run. Once more we made numerous stream crossings and diversions around downed trees. We all agreed that we were bone tired and anxious to find a campsite. At a U-turn in the stream bed we finally came to the absolute perfect campsite. This was at mile 15.2. The site was complete with a fire ring, chopped wood and log seats.
The following morning, June 1, we departed at 9am with only a mile to go. We were scheduled to meet Bill I at the Town Creek Aqueduct near MD Route 51 and along the C&O Canal toepath. This turned out to be a nice stretch of trail. Bill arrived at 11am, right on time, meeting a bunch of haggard hikers. We then departed, travelling east along the C&O Canal tow path. The bicyclists flew past us. The Potomac River kept us company to the south. Before we got to MD 51 again, Bill and Keith decided to leave the trail for the town of Paw Paw, WV for a good meal and maybe some ice cream. Charlie, Mike and Bill travelled an additional mile before arriving at the west portal of the Paw Paw Tunnel. This is a 3,118 foot tunnel that is lined with brick and built over a hundred years ago. It is also a cool reprieve from a warm day of hiking. Departing the tunnel, we witnessed couple of rock climbers hanging from a tethered rope.
We traveled through an area of dismal stumps and then arrived at lock 62 and our campsite for the night, Sorrell Ridge campsite. This was an easy 8 mile day. John and Keith got back later that afternoon and bragged about the great pie they ate in Paw Paw! Later that evening, Bill broke out his popcorn.
At left, looking east on the C&O Canal toepath near Town Creek, MD
This was to be the beginning of a long day of downpours lasting through the day and night. There was never a period of time that the rain completely stopped. It actually continued to get worse. We were hoping to cross the canal at an abandoned railroad trestle to save some time. However, there was no way to get to this trestle, so we had to trudge on.
We kept a steady pace, stopping at times to rest and chow down. We lost Bill along the way. He flagged down a van and got a ride to Little Orleans, our destination for tonight. The only moment of pleasure was when John, Keith and Charlie spotted a fawn lying in the weeds along the toepath. It made a unique crying sound. It continued raining throughout the day. We didn't even see any bicyclists. We covered 13 miles that day. We finally arrived at Little Orleans campsite and were greeted by Jerry Robey along with long lost Bill.
We were tired, water logged and ready to call it quits. We joined forces at "Bills", a local watering hole, and "stacked some cans". Charlie, Jerry & Bill stayed the night at Bills, shooting pool. We then returned to the campground, crawled into our tents and retired for the night. And the rain continued to pour from the heavens. Total distance traveled: 39.5 miles.