Savage River State Forest Trail Guide
Hiking * Backpacking * Biking * Fishing * Paddling * Camping
Savage River State Forest's more than 54,000 acres of rugged terrain challenges hikers, hunter, anglers and mountain bikers alike. The tranquility of the secluded forest provides shade during warm months for native brook trout streams and a cool place to camp at night. Each season brings the forest to life with delightful colors and sounds, like bright white trillium on a sunny slope and the sounds of migrating warblers making a brief stop to rest in the forest. More than 11,000 acres of the forest have been designated as State Wildlands, ensuring the preservation of the forest's unique and unspoiled natural resources.
Residents of the Forest
Rhododendron thickets, hickory, and oak trees, native northern hardwood forests, provide habitat to many wildlife species. The forest supports populations of black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcat, raccoon and other small mammals. Over one hundred species of birds are identified in the forest, including species of hawks, owls and songbirds.
Please Play Safe!
Savage River State Forest is a natural area with certain hazards, such as overhanging branches, rocky and slippery trails and venomous snakes. Sturdy shoes and water are recommended when exploring these rugged trails. Some of the forest trails are gravel roads, which are open to motor vehicles at various times. Trail users are encouraged to wear blaze orange during hunting seasons. Remember, you are responsible for having the necessary skills, knowledge and equipment for a safe and environmentally sensitive visit.
- Meadow Mountain Trail (follow markers) 12 miles - moderate
Originally created for fire control in the forest, this rocky trail fluctuates in elevation. The 4-mile trail section near I-68, also known as East Shale Road, is open for off-road vehicle (ORV) use. The remaining 8-miles, southwest of New Germany Road, is closed to off-road vehicles, except for snowmobiles. This portion of the trail generally follows the crest of Meadow Mountain and provides an excellent view at the Meadow Mountain Overlook. A spur trail (1.5 miles roundtrip) provides access to the overlook.
- Monroe Run Trail 6.4 miles - moderate (one-way)
Crumbling bridge abutments are the only remaining evidence that this scenic trail was formerly a connection road built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. There are plenty of chances to cool your feet along this trail, which has frequent stream crossings (no bridges!). This trail ends near the Savage River Reservoir in Big Run State Park. To avoid the uphill trek at the end of the trail, begin your hike at the trailhead on New Germany Road. This trail is open only to hikers.
- Negro Mountain Trail (follow markers) 8 miles - difficult
Stream crossings and uneven terrain make this trail challenging for hikers and mountain bikers. Winter sports lovers can enjoy adventurous snowmobiling on this trail.
- Big Savage Trail 17 miles - difficult
This popular backpacking trail will lead you through upland forests of oak and hickory, old farmsteads planted in pine and rocky terrain blanketed by wild azalea and rhododendron. At High Rock you will find the remnants of an old fire tower lookout cabin. Before lacing up your hiking boots, please plan ahead. There are few reliable water sources on this trail, so pack plenty of water. This trail is open only to hikers. Call 301-895-5759 (office), before you hike this trail.
- Margraff Trails 7.5 miles - moderate
A series of circuit, gravel roads provide less technical hiking and mountain biking opportunities, while more advanced cyclists can test their skills on the area's abundant and challenging single track trails. With an elevation of 2,800 feet, visitors enjoy splendid views year round. Sections of this trail system are also open for snowmobile use.
- Mt. Aetna Tract Trails 7.6 miles - moderate
A detailed pocket guide is available at the forest headquarters for this scenic 700-acre area. Diverse loop trails offer opportunities for bird watching, mountain biking and hiking. A winter of heavy snowfall supports snowshoeing and cross-country skiing activities. A private facility, Savage River Lodge, is located in the center of this forest tract. The Lodge has 18 log cabins, a gourmet restaurant and bar, and provides guide and outfitter services. For more information about Savage River Lodge visit www.savageriverlodge.com or call 301-689-3200.
- Asa Durst Trails
4.5 miles - moderate
This trail provides an enjoyable day-hike through rolling forestlands. Along the trail you will observe stands of pine and spruce, stream valleys rimmed in rhododendron, and upland hardwood forests that have reclaimed former pastures and farmlands. For those looking to get away from more heavily used trails at New Germany in the winter, we recommend a visit to this area for a backcountry snowshoe or cross-country ski experience.
- Backpacker Loop 24 miles - moderate
Plan a multi-day backpacking trip by connecting a series of trails and forest roads that include designated primitive campsites. The loop begins or ends at New Germany State Park, using Meadow Mountain Trail, Monroe Run Trail, Savage River Road and Poplar Lick Road. Stop by the forest headquarters to receive a backcountry permit before starting your trip.
- Poplar Lick Trail (follow markers) 6 miles - moderate
The footbed of this forested dirt road, which begins at New Germany State Park and ends at the Savage River, is the remainder of a CCC roadway constructed in 1934. Visitors in July are rewarded with rhododendron blooms and colorful wildflowers. The trail has 13 stream crossings, but only five bridges - so be prepared to get your feet wet when hiking or biking.
- New Germany Trails 10 miles - easy to difficult
Groomed ski trails offer cross-country skiers a chance to experience the forest in the beauty of a Garrett County winter. This picturesque circuit trail system is also popular year-round for hiking and mountain biking. A detailed trail guide is available from the forest headquarters or at www.dnr.state.md.us/outdooradventures
Snowmobile and off-road vehicle (ORV) operators can enjoy several miles of scenic trails. Be sure to display a current Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ORV permit, available at the State Forest headquarters and any DNR service center. ORV operators are restricted to use of designated ORV trails. Please be familiar with Tread Lightly ethics and practice them during your visit.
Freshwater Fishing and Water Recreation
The State Forest is the birthplace of two mountain rivers that are separated by the Eastern Continental Divide. The Savage River flows south to the Potomac River, drops 85 feet per mile and is a favorite of advanced paddlers and anglers. Some of the best wild trout fishing in Maryland can be enjoyed on this river.
The forest's Casselman River flows north into the Youghiogheny River and eventually to the Mississippi River and features stocked rainbow and brown trout. Be sure to consult your freshwater sport-fishing guide for detailed information on rules, regulations and creel limits, or visit www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries for trout stockng schedules. For more information and a free brochure, contact the Western Maryland Fisheries Office at 301-334-8218.
Savage River Reservoir
The Savage River Reservoir provides fishing and paddling opportunities in a scenic, wilderness setting. Two boat launches located at Dry Run and near the Reservoir dam provide convenient access. Anglers enjoy fishing for catfish, trout, and bass. Depending on the season, visitors may see grouse, ducks, great blue herons, king fishers and minks. Call the forest headquarters for a schedule of guided canoe trips, which are offered throughout the summer by forest interpreters or private nature tourism vendors. Always check the weather forecast when planning your paddling trip. The Reservoir is situated in a canyon that can experience high winds, making paddling difficult and dangerous.
The forest’s primitive sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A self-registration system is in place for visitor convenience at the Savage River State Forest Headquarters’ Information Kiosk (located at 127 Headquarters Lane), Elk Lick Camping Area, Poplar Lick Camping Area, Big Run Road Camping Area, BJ’s Store on the Savage River Road, and the Whitewater Camping Area. A larger group site is available by reservation (Bear Pen – Site 111 – along the Savage River Road) through the Savage River State Forest Headquarters. Call 301-895-5759 to make a reservation for Bear Pen.
Two state parks located within the State Forest -- New Germany and Big Run -- offer additional camping and/or cabin opportunities. New Germany's 11 rustic log cabins, available year-round, are fully winterized with woodstove inserts and electric heat. Big Run State Park offers rustic camping opportunities with 30 unimproved campsites and a youth group camping area. The picnic pavilion, which can accommodate 100 people, is available by reservation. A group campsite with a pavilion is also available by reservation.
Tips for camping in black bear country:
- Never keep food in your tent.
- Store food and garbage out of a bear's reach by either storing your food in a bear-proof container or hanging it properly between two trees.
- If a bear comes into camp, don't feed it! Scare it away by making noise.
- See a forest employee to get more detailed information on how to camp in black bear country or visit: www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/blackbear/bblivingwith.asp
Guides and Outfitters
To obtain information about outdoor adventures in Maryland, guides and outfitters in the Savage River State Forest area or trip itineraries in the forest, call the forest headquarters at 301-895-5759 or visit www.dnr.state.md.us/outdooradventures.
Pets on a leash are welcome in all areas of the forest.
Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace, Inc. is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation and respect for our wildlands. For more information visit www.lnt.org
- While you are enjoying the forest, please help us protect its natural and historic resources by following Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics.
- Keep wildlife wild by not feeding them and keeping your distance. Leave what you find. Allow others to discover the forest's unique resources by leaving rocks, plants, cultural artifacts and other natural objects of interest as you find them.
- Choose the right path by walking or riding in single file on the designated trails. Trails are extremely vulnerable to damage during and following rain events. Please allow at least 24-48 hours for trails to dry after significant rain or call the forest office for updated trail conditions.
From Washington, D.C./Baltimore: (Travel time approximately 3 hours.) Take I-70 West to I-68 West. Take exit 22 and follow Chestnut Ridge Road south to New Germany Road. Turn left onto New Germany Road and travel two miles. The entrance is to the forest headquarters is on the right.
From Pittsburgh: (Travel time approximately 2 hours.) Take I-79 to I-68 west. Take exit 22 and follow above directions.
Savage River State Forest
127 Headquarters Lane
Grantsville, MD 21536
TTY users call via the MD Relay
Please report any problem to a forest employee or call DNR Police at 1-800-628-9944.
Savage River State Forest is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
is available for sale through the forest office by calling 301-895-5759.