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

NOTICE: Big Run and St. John's Rock campsites are now available by Reservation Only​. Walk-ins are no longer permitted at these campsites. See below for more information on this and other camping opportunities at Savage River State Forest.

Savage River State Forest offers year-round, primitive camping on 81 sites l​ocated in ten separate areas of the State Forest. These primitive campsites each have a picnic table and a fire ring, but do not have any other amenities such as electric or water/sewer hookups. Location information for all of these sites is found below. Most of the Savage River State Forest campsites are available on a first come, first served basis. Exceptions to this are the campsites at Big Run, St. John's Rock, and the Bear Pen Group site on Savage River Road. The Big Run, St. John's Rock, and Bear Pen Group sites all require advance reservations for use, and no walk-in use is permitted at these sites. Reserve these sites as follows:

  • Big Run - reserve one of the 18 campsites at Big Run through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online reservation system.
  • St. John's Rock - reserve one of the 8 campsites at St. John's Rock through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online reservation system
  • Bear Pen Group site – There is one group camping site (Site #111) and it allows for up to twenty-five people. It is located on Savage River Road. This site is reserved by calling the State Forest headquarters at 301-895-5759. This site also has a porta-pot.

All other campsites at Savage River State Forest are available on a first come, first served basis. These 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) - Reservation Only
  • Savage River Road: Located off Savage River Road, sites running along the Savage River (7 sites) - Bear Pen Group site by Reservation Only
  • 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 porta-pot
  • 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) - Reservation Only

Primitive Camping

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 Savage River State Forest 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.

Campsite Registration Information

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 porta-pot. 

St. John’s Rock ORV Trail Sites have eight campsites which must be reserved on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online reservation system.  There are four large and four small campsites and vary in cost, depending on the number of ORV’s. 

Big Run campsites are also available by reservation only, and are reserved through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources online reservation system.  

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 dashboard 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 State 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.