Big Savage Hiking Trail Backpack, Maryland

Update, March 20, 2008:

I have notice a heck of a lot of hits to this blog regarding this trail. This blog is not one of those informative trail sites but there seems to be an incredible lack of information on the Internet about this place. I was shocked and horrified to read that someone else is actually charging money for information regarding The Big Savage Trail. So I have created a hand drawn downloadable map that is not exact, but exact enough for hiking purposes. I have also created 2 maps to the termini of the trailheads. This should clear up some confusion and hopefully save somebody some money.

Trail map:

Map to north trailhead:

Map and directions to southern trail head, I'm doing this from memory:
Go to the campground on north side of Savage River Road. Drive into campground and head west (left) as far as you can go on the campground loop. Looking west along the Savage River you will see a gate, I think it is yellow. Park your car. Beyond the gate is a road. Stay on the road and when you get near the Savage Dam you will see a sign for the trail.

This was a hike hosted by The Outdoors Club led by your's truly. You can find a good trail description for the Big Savage Hikiing Trail on Big Savage Mountain near Frostburg, MD in this PATC book. However, let me add some additional comments. Due to what looks like a serious gypsy moth infestation, the tree canopy is pretty shot leaving some serious undergrowth. A good portion of the 17 mile trail is overgrown with briars so wear thick long pants or bring lots of bandaids. I would not attempt this trail in the summer. Sometime between the last time and time2 I was on this trail and now a kind soul took a great deal of time and effort and marked this trail very well, so at least you will know where you are going. The trail marking was a pleasant surprise.

This time I was determined walk the entire trail end to end. Thankfully I had all these unsuspecting people to help out with transportation and logistics. On the hike were Tuna, Hungry Ted, Keith, Lisa, Kisses and Jada. Since we were 4 days away from the shortest day of the year we were forced to put more than a little spring in our step. We started at St. John Rock and headed south. The book said there would be good camping on the ridge at mile 11, all we found were a lot of briars and undergrowth but we were successful finding enough space directly on a logging road.

I know that many of you who know us have come to this site to get the dirt on what happened. Unfortunately too many of the participants have significant others so I am forced to keep my mouth shut. I will say that I have never seen so much alcohol brought for a one-night backpack, things got rolling early due to the 5PM sunset.

The next day we visited the High Rock Tower.
I managed to climb up to level 2 and then refused to go any further, the tower seems more than a little dangerous. Lisa was the only one who made it all the way to the top. At the bottom I made another video interview with Keith, a trail overseer with the PATC Cadillac Crew. If you want to learn about being a trail overseer take a look.

Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

This weekend I had to stay home to get some thing done, but I did want to check out a new GPS system that I created. I'm using a Palm TX, Holux slim236 bluetooth GPS and Delorme TOPO USA 6.0. Everything worked fine at the house, even inside the house but I wanted to give it a try in the forest close to home before I wanted to rely on it out in the hinterlands. The Holux is probably the strongest GPS satellite sucker on the market that I can tell.

My hunter friend volunteered to test the GPS system with me and we started out this morning in the Avalon area of Patapsco Valley State Park. We decided we wanted to take a look at some waterfalls in a ravine. I was unable to pull in a satellite signal until we got on top of the ridge. But once it came in, it stayed in. The Holux stayed in my pocket the whole time, unlike Garmins where you have to keep them outside and then they don't work even then.

We shot a video for your enjoyment.

My hunter friend is very concerned about tracking deer, so we ended up looking for signs of deer and looking at rub areas on trees. I didn't think much would come of all this, but sure enough, we got to the top of a ridge and there was a nice big buck. Hunter friend got all excited. We trampled through the woods, ignoring the trails and zigzagged across the park. We watched the geese and ducks in the frozen pond too.

Massanutten Trail West and Antietam Battlefield

When on the Massunutten Trail East a few weeks ago I got a good look at the west ridge and decided to check it out. I set out in the dark Friday night and managed to park my minivan at the very top of Woodstock Gap near the tower, so I had a beautiful view of the lights on both side of the ridge. I set out on the Massanutten Trail heading south on Powell Mountain early because of the limited daylight and realized the trail was going to be a slip and slide due to an excessive amount of newly fallen oak leaves. I made this video for your enjoyment:

A ran into a couple of hunters around 10:30AM, although I can't imagine they were having much success that air was alit with the noisy sounds of many ATVs and bambi has never hung out on a steep ridge of a mountain, I have never seen a deer midmorning either. Maybe these guys knew something I didn't or they weren't the brightest bulbs. I had to climb Opechee peak because I had seen this pretty peak from the other trail. Although you can only get to it on the ATV trail which is a long road of annoying scree, it is well worth the climb. I also saw some hang gliders and paragliders along the way, there must be a ramp around somewhere.

I managed in the neighborhood of 15-16 miles before I gave up at 3PM. I spent the night in Front Royal which has proved to be a pretty good place to hang out, the Daily Grind downtown is open until 9:30PM and the streets over there are relatively quiet. The good news is that they are currently building a Wal-Mart which will come in handy. Now if they only will build a decent Sheetz.

I decided to play tourist the next day and visit Antietam. Battlefields tend to put me to sleep but I am trying to make use of my parks pass. I watched the NPS official Antietam movie and they made it sound like the Civil War was about the struggle over slavery. Nothing is further from the truth, that war like every other war was about ego and testerone much like our present war. All it takes is one maniacal power hungry dimwit from the south to come up with a dumb idea and thousands of people lose their lives waving the American flag. If you think for a minute that the Civil War soldiers or those Iraqi troops were/are fighting for "freedom" you better think again. Fail to fill out a 1040 form on April 15th and you will find out just how not free you are.

I made a little video in the cornfield. Several troops on both sides were sent to battle each other at close range even though their weaponry could have been used yards away. Nobody could see anything in the cornfield because of...the corn. Nobody knew who they were maiming and killing.

Here are 2 more pics. The first is picture of Bloody Lane which is all of a few hundred feet long. 5000 soldiers lost their lives over this pathetic piece of farmland.
This next pic is of Burnside Bridge where a bunch more people lost their lives over a tiny little bridge. I am sure some of those soldiers must have thought at one point, WTF am I doing here?