Savage River State Forest Mt. Aetna Tract Trail Guide
Wildlife Viewing * Biking * Hiking * Cross Country Skiing
Located in the northeast corner of Savage River State Forest, the Mt. Aetna Tract is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Diverse loop trails within a 700-acre forest offer opportunities for bird watching, mountain biking and hiking. A privately owned, upscale lodge within the forest provides a unique retreat. Not unusual to this region of Maryland, heavy winter snowfall supports a multitude of winter sports, like snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
The lands within Savage River State Forest were once seasonal hunting grounds of Native Americans who lived along the Potomac River and within the Ohio River Valley. The creation of the Cumberland Road, or National Pike as it was also known, during the early 1800s made this area a major thoroughfare for all travelers and settlers headed west. This resulted in flourishing industry and commerce as the area was settled amidst a vast area of virgin forest, which met the needs of early settelrs for wood materials.
Wildlife and Nature Appreciation
Birding enthusiasts can expect to see a wide variety of avian life that includes both forest interior dwellers, such as ovenbirds, along with more common, edge species like the indigo bunting. Red-tailed and broad-winged hawks are a few of the raptors that may be seen soaring overhead. Nighttime reveals the calls of great-horned and screech owls as they begin their nocturnal forays through the forest.
Small creatures such as the long-tailed salamander also inhabit the forest. Its bright yellow to orange color and black dots make identification easy. Hardwood forests and small streams are the ideal habitat for this unique creature. Please be careful not to disturb this sensitive, small creature.
A vast array of trees, shrubs and wildflowers are colorfully displayed throughout the seasons. April brings the magnificent blooms of spring beauties and trout lilies. You may be treated to the beauty of pink lady slippers and trilliums during May and early June.
July is punctuated by the flowering of native rhododendrons in white blossom, followed by the red splendor of bee balm and cardinal flowers. The finest colors arrive in the fall as the native hardwoods begin to change. Various shades of red, orange, yellow and purple will flood your senses and remain a fond memory long after your visit has ended.
Savage River Lodge
Within the Mt. Aetna Tract are 45 acres of private land, owned by the Savage River Lodge. Lodge visitors can enjoy an upscale, rustic retreat and access to professional guide and outdoor services. The Lodge has 18 luxurious log cabins, a gourmet restaurant and bar, gift shop, fly fishing shop and Nordic Ski Center. The facility is open to guests of the Lodge who are staying, dining or participating in outdoor activities. Anyone visting the Lodge is asked to register at the front desk.
At the Savage River crossing there is a public parking lot built and maintained by the Forest Service for public access. For more information about Savage River Lodge visit: www.savageriverlodge.com or call 301-689-3200.
Please Play Safe!
Savage River State Forest's trails are popular for hiking, mountain biking and wildlife viewing. Snowfall during a wet winter can exceed 120 inches, providing excellent conditions for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Please remember that the forest is a natural area with certain hazards, such as poison ivy and slippery trail surfaces. Remember, you are responsible for having the necessary skills, knowledge and equipment for a safe and environmentally sensitive visit.
- Mt. Aetna Loop Trail 3.2 miles - moderate
Ranging in elevation from 2285 feet to 2600 feet, this scenic trail is suitable for hiking, birding and nature appreciation. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, bobcats and gray squirrels. Cycling is only permitted on the 1/4 mile section of this trail between the two ends of the Tall Oaks Trail.
- Cabin Trail 2.3 miles - moderate
This scenic trail can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, including bird watching. Listen for the sights and sounds of a wild turkey or a great horned owl. This trail is ideal for winter sports, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
- Tall Oaks Trail 1.2 miles - moderate
Conditions on this trail are relatively easy except for two slopes that are somewhat steep for short distances. This portion of the forest displays most of the hardwood tree species found in the region, including red and white oak and hickory.
- Savage River Trail .3 mile - moderate
Trail users can enjoy a quick hike or bike ride on this short trail. This trail is also ideal for first-timers to try out winter sports.
- Mudlick Run Trail .6 mile - moderate
This short trail provides an alternative to the forest's longer trail. The terrain consists of a downhill slope and follows a streambed. Nature lovers will enjoy a quick hike on this scenic trail.
While there are no developed campsites in the Mt. Aetna Area of Savage River State Forest, opportunities for camping exist in other areas of the forest and nearby at New Germany and Big Run State Parks. Camping information may be obtained by contacting the forest headquarters office.
Hunting/Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs)
Hunting is permitted throughout the forest except where posted with safety zone signs. Hunters should consult their hunting guide for exact seasons and bag limits. Please be aware of boundary markers indicating private property. The State Forest boundary lines are marked with yellow paint on trees. For more information about hunting on Maryland's public lands, visit www.dnr.state.md.us/huntersguide
Off-road vehicles are not permitted in the Mt. Aetna Tract, but other areas of the forest do provide ORV trails. Snowmobile and off-road vehicle operators can purchase a Department of Natural Resources ORV sticker at the forest headquarters.
Leave No Trace
While you are enjoying the forest, please help us protect its natural and historic resources by following these Leave No Trace ethics.
- Leave what you find. Allow others to discover what you found by leaving rocks, plants, cultural artifacts and other natural objects of interest as you find them.
- Keep wildlife wild by not feeding them and keeping your distance. Remember, you are a visitor in their homes.
- Choose the right path by walking or riding in single file on the designated trails. Shortcutting trails causes erosion, degrades the beauty of nature, replaces native plants with weeds and disturbs wildlife.
- 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.
From Washington, D.C./Baltimore: Approximate travel time is 3 hours. Follow I-70 west to I-68 west past Cumberland. Take exit #29 (Finzel) and proceed south on Beall School Road approximately 1 mile. Make a right turn onto Frostburg Road. Take the left fork to remain on Frostburg Road. Travel approximately 2.6 miles and turn right onto Mt. Aetna Road. Just after the first bridge crossing you will see a public parking area on the right.
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.