Savage River State Forest

Fog lays in the valley over Blue Lick Run trimmed with fall foliage, photo by Melissa Nash​​​

Recreation – Camping

Map of Savage River State Forest​

Savage River State Forest Online Camping Reservations

Campers can reserve a campsite on Maryland Department of Natural Resources online reservation system to book one of 18 primitive sites at Savage River State Forest’s Big Run campground.

Most of the Savage River State Forest campsites are available on a first-come, first-serve method. The state’s reservation website, -- operated by the Maryland Park Service -- allows users to browse hundreds of campsites on state-owned public lands -- from backpack camping to cabins, beachfront to forest -- and reserve their space ahead of time.

Primitive sites are those that do not have electric or sewer hookup or amenities such as tables or campfire rings. At Big Run, some sites are suitable for pop-up camper, trailer, or RV, while others are tent camping only. Campers should check the reservation system for details.

Savage River State Forest offers year-round, primitive camping on 81 sites located in ten separate areas of the State Forest; Blue Lick Road, Big Run Road, Savage River Road, Elk Lick, Whitewater, Poplar Lick, Rabbit Hollow, Margraff Plantation, Keyser’s Ridge and St. John’s Rock. Each of our camping sites offers a picnic table and a fire ring. The state forest has one group camping site which allows up to twenty-five people and is Site #111 located on the Savage River Road. This site is available by calling the state forest headquarters and making a reservation. This site also has a portapot. The eight campsites located at St. John’s Rock ORV Trail are available by reservation by accessing the DNR COMPASS portal. The other areas listed are available by self-registering at the bulletin board areas located in that particular camping area. All Savage River State Forest campsites are numbered 100 and above and this is important information as the Big Run State Park campsites are in close proximity to some of the state forest campsites.

 Savage River State Forest Camp Loop Map

Camping Areas

  • Blue Lick Road: Located off Lower New Germany Road on Blue Lick Road, north of the forest headquarters, (5 sites).
  • Big Run Road: Located off Big Run Road, south of New Germany Road (19 Sites)
  • Savage River Road: Located off Savage River Road, sites running along the Savage River (7 sites)
  • Elk Lick: Located off the Westernport Road along the Elk Lick watershed (6 Sites)
  • Whitewater: Located south of the Savage River Reservoir off Savage River Road (9 Sites) Also has a portapot
  • Poplar Lick: Located south of New Germany Road approximately 3 miles from the state forest headquarters or north of the Savage River Road (19 sites)
  • Rabbit Hollow: Located off the Rabbit Hollow Road, north of Bowman Hill Road (1 site)
  • Margraff Plantation: Located off the Fratz Road in Accident, Maryland (4 sites)
  • Keyser’s Ridge: Located off I-68, Exit 14 (3 sites)
  • St. John’s Rock: Located off I-68 at Exit 19, follow the signs to the St. John’s Rock ORV Trail (8 sites).

Primitive Camping

Savage River State Forest has one Group Camping Site. It is number 111 and is located along the Savage River Road, north of Big Run State Park. This Site is available by calling the state forest headquarters for a reservation. The Site allows up to 25 people and costs $25 per night to rent. This Site also has a portapot. St. John’s Rock ORV Trail Sites have eight campsites which can be reserved on the DNR COMPASS portal. There are four large and four small campsites and vary in cost, depending on the number of ORV’s. All other camping areas are “first come, first served” sites. Most Camping Areas have a bulletin board with information and self-registration camping envelopes. There are green pay pipes where your camping envelope is to be inserted. Camping is $10 per site per night. Cash or checks payable to DNR are acceptable means of payment. Please complete the green self-registration camping envelope and tear off the perforated portion of the envelope as your receipt. This receipt should be placed on the dash board of your vehicle. If there are multiple vehicles, then please put that information on the envelope (both the main envelope which goes in the pay pipe and on the receipt portion). Please list the names of all campers/vehicle license numbers and a brief itinerary. The date in and out is vital for your own safety. BJ’s Store located on Savage River Road has a green pay pipe for camping along the Savage River Road. Camping is $10 per night per site for the self-registration camping areas.

Backpack Camping

Backpack camping is also permitted throughout the forest. Backpackers must register for camping. A kiosk is located outside the forest headquarters and has self-registration green envelopes which are required to be completed prior to the hike. Complete the envelope completely, put in $10 for each night of your trip, tear off the back portion of the envelope along the perforation provided and place that perforated portion (your receipt) on the dashboard of your vehicle. Place the envelope portion with your money (cash or check payable to DNR) in the green pay pipe located outside the kiosk. Backpack campers can also obtain a permit by mail. Campfires are permitted except during drought conditions. Leave No Trace guidelines apply to backpack camping as well. Camping is NOT permitted within 200 feet of any trail or stream.