Savage River State Forest's more than 54,000 acres of rugged terrain challenges hikers, hunter, anglers and mountain bikers alike. The tranquility of the secluded forest provides shade during warm months for native brook trout streams and a cool place to camp at night. Each season brings the forest to life with delightful colors and sounds, like bright white trillium on a sunny slope and the sounds of migrating warblers making a brief stop to rest in the forest. More than 11,000 acres of the forest have been designated as State Wildlands, ensuring the preservation of the forest's unique and unspoiled natural resources.
Rhododendron thickets, hickory, and oak trees, native northern hardwood forests, provide habitat to many wildlife species. The forest supports populations of black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcat, raccoon and other small mammals. Over one hundred species of birds are identified in the forest, including species of hawks, owls and songbirds.
Please Play Safe!
Savage River State Forest is a natural area with certain hazards, such as overhanging branches, rocky and slippery trails and venomous snakes. Sturdy shoes and water are recommended when exploring these rugged trails. Some of the forest trails are gravel roads, which are open to motor vehicles at various times. Trail users 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 sensitive visit.
Snowmobile and off-road vehicle (ORV) operators can enjoy several miles of scenic trails. Be sure to display a current Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ORV permit, available at the State Forest headquarters and any DNR service center. ORV operators are restricted to use of designated ORV trails. Please be familiar with Tread Lightly ethics and practice them during your visit.
The State Forest is the birthplace of two mountain rivers that are separated by the Eastern Continental Divide. The Savage River flows south to the Potomac River, drops 85 feet per mile and is a favorite of advanced paddlers and anglers. Some of the best wild trout fishing in Maryland can be enjoyed on this river.
The forest's Casselman River flows north into the Youghiogheny River and eventually to the Mississippi River and features stocked rainbow and brown trout. Be sure to consult your freshwater sport-fishing guide for detailed information on rules, regulations and creel limits, or click here for trout stockng schedules. For more information and a free brochure, contact the Western Maryland Fisheries Office at 301-334-8218.
The Savage River Reservoir provides fishing and paddling opportunities in a scenic, wilderness setting. Two boat launches located at Dry Run and near the Reservoir dam provide convenient access. Anglers enjoy fishing for catfish, trout, and bass. Depending on the season, visitors may see grouse, ducks, great blue herons, king fishers and minks. Call the forest headquarters for a schedule of guided canoe trips, which are offered throughout the summer by forest interpreters or private nature tourism vendors. Always check the weather forecast when planning your paddling trip. The Reservoir is situated in a canyon that can experience high winds, making paddling difficult and dangerous.
The forest’s primitive sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A self-registration system is in place for visitor convenience at the Savage River State Forest Headquarters’ Information Kiosk (located at 127 Headquarters Lane), Elk Lick Camping Area, Poplar Lick Camping Area, Big Run Road Camping Area, BJ’s Store on the Savage River Road, and the Whitewater Camping Area. A larger group site is available by reservation (Bear Pen – Site 111 – along the Savage River Road) through the Savage River State Forest Headquarters. Call 301-895-5759 to make a reservation for Bear Pen.
Two state parks located within the State Forest -- New Germany and Big Run -- offer additional camping and/or cabin opportunities. New Germany's 11 rustic log cabins, available year-round, are fully winterized with woodstove inserts and electric heat. Big Run State Park offers rustic camping opportunities with 30 unimproved campsites and a youth group camping area. The picnic pavilion, which can accommodate 100 people, is available by reservation. A group campsite with a pavilion is also available by reservation.
Tips for camping in black bear country:
To obtain information about outdoor adventures in Maryland, guides and outfitters in the Savage River State Forest area or trip itineraries in the forest, call the forest headquarters at 301-895-5759 or click here for the lists of outdoor guides provided by the Maryland Park Service.
Pets on a leash are welcome in all areas of the forest.
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: (Travel time approximately 3 hours.) Take I-70 West to I-68 West. Take exit 22 and follow Chestnut Ridge Road south to New Germany Road. Turn left onto New Germany Road and travel two miles. The entrance is to the forest headquarters is on the right.
From Pittsburgh: (Travel time approximately 2 hours.) Take I-79 to I-68 west. Take exit 22 and follow above directions.
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.
This trail guide, complete with a topographical map of the trails, is available for sale through the forest office by calling 301-895-5759.
Back to the Savage River State Forest page
580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis MD 21401
Call toll-free in *Maryland* at 1-877-620-8DNR (8367)
Out of State: 410-260-8DNR (8367)