Green Ridge State Forest
Welcome to Green Ridge State Forest. At 47,560 acres, Green Ridge is the largest contiguous block of public land in Maryland. Green Ridge is located within the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachian Mountains. It is rich in both natural and cultural heritage and remains a “working forest” today as it is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service to conserve the natural ecological processes while supporting the economy of the region through an active forest management program. The Maryland Forest Service Mission is to restore, manage, and protect Maryland’s trees, forests, and forested ecosystems to sustain our natural resources and connect people to the land.
The general geographic boundaries of Green Ridge are Town Creek to the west and Sideling Hill Creek to the east. The northern boundary extends to the Mason-Dixon Line. The southern boundary parallels the Potomac River. Elevations range from 500 feet above sea level on the Potomac River to 2,000 feet on Town Hill. Green Ridge receives the least amount of rainfall in Maryland, averaging 36 inches annually.
In the early 1800’s, Richard Caton and William Carroll in partnership owned much of the land that is Green Ridge State Forest today. Richard Caton was the son-in-law to Charles Carroll of Carrolton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. William Carroll was the grandson of Daniel Carroll of Rock Creek, a framer of the United States Constitution. The land was originally patented from vacant lands during the 1820-1840 period for inclusion into various timber and mining interests, primarily the Town Hill Mining, Manufacturing, and Timber Company. This business venture was financed by the estate of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. The crumbling stone structure known as the Carroll Chimney, part of the steam-powered sawmill built in 1836, is the only known surviving structure of that period.
In the 1880-1912 era, most of the remaining virgin forest was cut and a period of neglect resulted in numerous wildfires. During the early 1900’s, the Mertens family of Cumberland attempted to convert the forest into apple orchards and promoted it as “The Largest Apple Orchard in the Universe.”
The orchard was subdivided into 10-acre parcels and sold to individuals as investment properties. Five acres of each property parcel was cleared, burned, and planted into apple trees. The remaining five acres had the best trees cut and the poorer trees were left standing. The orchard company went into bankruptcy in 1918. The interests of the corporation were acquired by the State Department of Forestry in 1931.
The first forest management activities at Green Ridge were performed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930’s. Their main focus was fire control. Other work consisted of building roads, trails, recreation enhancements, and the management of existing forest for its future timber and wildlife potential.
During World War II, the CCC camp at Fifteen Mile Creek housed German prisoners of war who were required to cut pulpwood in the forest. As the forest grew it became popular with outdoor enthusiasts, especially hunters. It also contributed more and more to the local wood products industry.
Today, Green Ridge is a diverse forest consisting primarily of a 110 year old even-aged mixed oak forest, mixed with a wide variety of age classes resulting from various silvilculture activities beginning in the late 1960’s.
Green Ridge State Forest Shooting Range
The shooting range was developed through funds from the collection of hunting license fees and established to benefit the veteran and novice sportsmen alike to provide a facility for hunters to use to sight in and practice with their hunting weapons to facilitate shooting proficiency and good hunting ethics. It is a well-maintained facility in which visitors may use by registering for a daily or annual permit available only at Green Ridge State Forest Headquarters. The range may be reserved by various law enforcement or other agencies to conduct training or hunting safety courses.
The Green Range is fully accessible and is open Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. to sunset, Sunday noon to sunset, and Monday from 10 a.m. to sunset. The range is closed on Tuesdays. 100 yd target frames are available. No automatic weapons or destructive shooting permitted.
Permit fees are: $5.00 per day and $25.00 per year. For anyone under 16 and over 64 the fee is $2.50 per day and $10.00 per year.
Hunting & Fishing on Green Ridge
The entire Green Ridge State Forest is open to Public Hunting and is regulated under the provisions of the Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland. Hunting remains the most popular form of recreation on the forest. White-tailed deer and wild turkey are probably the most targeted quarry followed by small game such as squirrel and ruffed grouse. Many sportsman depend on the state forest as a place to enjoy their favorite past time while the forest depends on the sportsmen to help keep wildlife populations at healthy levels for the wildlife and the natural forest ecology.
Attention Deer Hunters! – A sportsman harvested deer on Green Ridge State Forest tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) November 2010. In an effort to prevent the spread of CWD, Maryland DNR – Wildlife & Heritage Service has instituted a CWD Management Area with special restrictions including transportation of certain parts of deer carcasses out of the area. All of Green Ridge State Forest is located within the CWD Management Area. Green Ridge Deer Hunters are subject to all regulations instituted to help prevent the spread of CWD. The following link provides complete information on the CWD Management Area and associated regulations: http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/deer/disease/cwdinformation.asp
Angling is a similar recreation activity that is promoted within the forest. Fishing opportunities at Green Ridge include the Potomac River where bass, catfish, muskellunge, and sunfish are sought. Put and take trout fishing is popular on Fifteen Mile Creek, Sidling Hill Creek, and White Sulphur and Orchard ponds during the spring. Town Creek also offers a special management delayed harvest trout fishing program. All rules and regulations regarding fishing at Green Ridge can be found in the Maryland Fishing Guide that is issued with the Maryland Fishing License. A Maryland Anglers License is required for those 16 years of age and older.
There are 100 designated primitive campsites dispersed throughout Green Ridge State Forest that are available to visitors throughout the year by permit. Campers must register for the campsite at the Green Ridge Headquarters prior to occupying the site. Self registration is available outside the office when the office is closed. There is a $10 per night permit fee for camping for up to six people and $1 for each additional person is required. There are also 7 group sites available for groups of 20 or more that are available by reservation. Details on group site camping are available at the GR headquarters.
Primitive camping has become a rare opportunity as most Public and Private campgrounds have adopted a more improved and consolidated approach to managing camping facilities. Camping at Green Ridge is a primitive experience in that the sites have a picnic table and a fire ring and no other amenities or plumbing. We urge our visitors to practice the “leave no trace ethic” as they enjoy a primitive and remote camping experience. Back Country backpack camping is also permitted within the forest. Maps, guides and backcountry permits are available at the forest headquarters.
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
Green Ridge has 50 plus miles of hiking trails available for day hikes or multi-day backpacking experiences. Trail guides including maps are available for purchase at the Green Ridge Headquarters. This trail system varies in terrain and can be very rugged. There are stream crossings or steep climbs on most trails. Visitors 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 friendly visit. The trails are as follows:
- Scenic Overlook Trail—50 Yards (Easy)
- Pine Lick Trail—6 Miles (Moderate) (Blue)
- Twin Oaks Hiking Trail—4 Mile Loop (Moderate) (Purple)
- Long Pond Trail—9 Miles (Difficult) (Red)
- Deep Run/Big Run Trail—7 Miles (Moderate) (Green)
- Log Roll Trail—4.5 Miles (Moderate) (Orange)
- Great Eastern Trail—18 Miles (Moderate/Difficult)
The Green Ridge Hiking Trail System connects with both the Buchanan State Forest Trail and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park Trail. For more information contact the Green Ridge Headquarters or:
Buchanan State Forest, Bureau of Forestry
RR2, Box 3, McConnellsburg, PA 17233
C&O Canal National Historic Park
P.O. Box 4
Sharpsburg, MD 21782
This trail guide, complete with topographical map of the trails is also available for sale at the Green Ridge headquarters.
Mountain biking is permitted on all open forest roads and the designated mountain bike trail. Mountain Bikes are not permitted on the other designated hiking trails described above. The designated Mountain Bike Trail is open to foot traffic as well and includes a variety of terrain including stream crossings, fallen trees, steep inclines, and fast descents.
- Mountain Bike Trail---12 Miles (Difficult)
The former Green Ridge ORV is permanently closed.
Please see ORV page for trail status.
Horseback riding is permitted on the public roads within the State Forest. Horses are not permitted on any trails other than the open public roads. There are 2 primitive campsites on the forest that are recommended for riders that wish to camp with their horses. These sites are not developed horse camping sites. More developed horse camping is available at the neighboring Little Orleans Camp Ground. The Little Orleans Camp Ground can be reached at 301-478-2325.
Green Ridge Driving Tour: 44.3 miles – 3 hours
There is an established self guided driving tour available at the Green Ridge Headquarters. This tour begins and ends at the Headquarters covering approximately 45 miles. The tour includes interpretation of management of the forest while directing users to the scenic overlooks and other unique sites throughout the forest. This tour takes approximately 3 hours to complete.
Geocaching is a relatively new and increasingly popular form of outdoor recreation that involves the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) and other navigational techniques to hide and/or find containers called “caches”. There are many approved official caches located within Green Ridge. Information on the official Caches located on the state forest can be found at www.geocaching.com. Contact the Green Ridge office for information on applying for permission to place a new cache on the forest.
This winding section of the Potomac River is runable year-round except after severe drought. Boaters travel at approximately 1.5 miles per hour during normal water conditions. Though most of the way is flat, the river must be considered potentially dangerous at all times. River currents are strong, deceptive and unpredictable. A canoe campsite is available on a first-come, first-served basis at Bond's Landing. Paddlers should always be aware of the weather forecast when preparing for a trip.
- Paw Paw, WV to Bond's Landing
12 miles - 5 hours - Class I
Boat launch parking is located just over the Route 51 bridge entering the town of Paw Paw, West Virginia. Your paddle trip will parallel the C&O Canal, which includes the historic Paw Paw Tunnel, worth stopping for a visit. The floodplain shoreline is home to an abundance of wildlife, including colorful wood ducks and river otters. Camping is located at the Bond's Landing take out site, as well as several other locations along the canal.
- Bond's Landing to Fifteen Mile Creek
9 miles - 3 hours - Class I
Get a feeling of past centuries when Native Americans were dependent on the resources of the Potomac River. They drank its water, fished it for food and used it to guide them from one hunting ground to another. Follow a great blue heron downriver or search for evidence of beavers. Enjoy a cold drink and sandwich at the end of your trip at locally-owned Bill's Place.
Paddling Safety Tips
- Always wear a lifejacket.
- Paddle with others.
- Always check the river's conditions in advance by calling NOAA 703-260-0305.
- If air and water temperatures combined total less than 120 degrees, wear a wetsuit.
The American Canoe Association advocates for paddler safety, clean water, the preservation of natural resources and paddler access to our waterways. For more information visit www.acanet.org or call 703-451-0141.
Green Ridge State Forest offers a mobility impaired hunting program, accessible shooting range, headquarters office, and overlook. For additional accessible amenities in Maryland State Forests, visit Accessibility For All section of this website.
Leave No Trace:
Plan Ahead and Prepare.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.
Dispose of Waste Properly.
Leave What You Find.
Minimize Campfire Impacts.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
Photographs by Green Ridge State Forest Staff and Tom Darden
- Green Ridge State Forest
28700 Headquarters Dr, NE
Flintstone, MD 21530-9525
State Forest General Information
- 1-877-620-8DNR (8367) x8531, (Out of State) 410-260-8367 x8531, TTY users dial 711
- Please report any problem to a Forest Service employee or call Park Watch at 1-800-825-7275 or Natural Resources Police 1-301-777-7771 or 1-800-628-9944.
- Green Ridge State Forest is open 24 hours a day, year-round. Green Ridge State Forest headquarters is open during office hours Monday through Friday. Weekend office hours vary, depending on the season.
- From Washington, D.C./Baltimore: (Travel time approximately 2 hours.) Take I-70 west to I-68 west. Take exit #64 (M.V. Smith Road). Make a right onto M.V. Smith Road. The Headquarters Drive is on the right after crossing I-68.
- From Pittsburgh: (Travel time approximately 3 1/2 hours.) Take I-79 to I-68 east. Take exit #64 (M.V. Smith Road). Take a right onto M.V. Smith Road. The Headquarters Drive is immediately on the right.