In February 2018, the Department of Natural Resources completed the purchase of 1,986 acres in southwestern Garrett County, outside the Town of Kitzmiller, for the future development of a State Park. The property comprises three distinct parcels, including approximately three miles of frontage on the Potomac River’s North Branch, three brook trout streams, 1,700 acres of mixed forest, and unique rocky bluffs rising 900 feet above the Potomac River. All three parcels include areas of rugged, mountainous terrain with numerous ephemeral streams, meadows, small tributaries, and wetlands.
Historically, all of the parcels were mined for coal, and evidence of the former mining activity is evident in the bench-cut terrain that characterizes various parts of each tract, and provides for a variety of challenging trails for hiking or riding. Anticipated future recreational opportunities include Off-Highway-Vehicle (OHV) riding, hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting.
The Maryland Park Service will hold an open house from 3 to 5 p.m. for Wolf Den Run State Park on Saturday, October 20th, at the Kitzmiller Elementary School, 288 W. Main Street, Kitzmiller MD 21538.
Staff will be available to answer questions regarding the property and there will be stations to provide feedback/comments on topics such as trails, hunting, and camping. The open house will conclude with a roundtable discussion of key questions identified at each station.
Before coming to the open house, visitors should review a consultant’s assessment of the existing Wolf Den Run trail network and/or take a DNR OHV Users survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PXGGVPF. A second Wolf Den Run State Park Open House will be scheduled at a later date in Fall 2018.
The name, Wolf Den Run, was selected for the new State Park based primarily on a prominent stream located within the park boundary named Wolf Den Run. The stream name first appears on a Maryland Geological Survey Map of Garrett County dated 1901. Wolf Den Run flows through the northern section of the state park and empties into the North Branch of the Potomac River.
The State Park name was also selected based on more than 200 years of related historical references to the land. The earliest mention of the name was in 1788, in reference to land known as "Wolf's Den," which was acquired by Philip Bray, an early settler of the Kitzmiller area. The Bray farm comprised 100 acres on Military Lots 356 and 357, known locally as Wolf's Den, which were located on the mountain slope along what is now Route 38, around the area where the Bray cemetery is located. The historic Bray farm property is located on or near the Wolf Den Run stream and the current boundary of the State Park.
The land was mined by the Wolf Den Coal Company near the turn of the century. The town of Shallmar, which borders the state park on the North Branch of the Potomac River, received its name by reversing parts of the name of W.A. Marshall, who was the first superintendent of the Wolf Den Coal Company.
The reason for the references to a wolf den in association with the area is unknown; however, western Maryland was historically part of the red wolf range. The namesake has remained popular with contemporary private organizations, which have used the property for recreation purposes until the State's purchase.
Trail-based recreation will be a primary activity at Wolf Den Run State Park. The area has a history as a destination for use by OHVs. This past spring, as part of an initial trail planning effort, the Department of Natural Resources partnered with the statewide motorized trails advocacy group, Maryland OHV Alliance, to conduct an assessment of the existing trails. The assessment emphasizes safety, user experience and environmental sustainability, with a goal of identifying routes suitable for opening in the coming months, while the more comprehensive planning process gets underway. At this time, Applied Trail Research, the consultant hired to conduct the initial trail evaluation, has completed a trail planning study and mapped all of the existing trails. A trail planning study is posted on this website.
Early public access to the new State Park has been hampered by two failing bridges that provide primary access to two of the three parcels. The Department is working on plans to replace the failing bridges in order to provide expanded public access in the spring of 2019. In the interim, Maryland Park Service staff from Herrington Manor State Park will be responsible for management of Wolf Den Run State Park and will make preparations to open accessible portions of the property for hunting and hiking this fall.
Development of a Strategic Management Plan for the property will be initiated this fall, and will include public information meetings in October 2018 as well as opportunities for public comment and involvement via an online survey. Check this website for additional information and updates.
While waiting for access points to Wolf Den Run State Park to become available, those interested in the area are encouraged to visit the Town of Kitzmiller, as well as other nearby public lands such as Jennings-Randolph Lake and the Lostland Run Area of Potomac State Forest.
Herrington Manor State Park
Park Manager Donald Oates
222 Herrington Lane
Oakland MD 21550
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD 21401