Located in the northeast corner of Savage River State Forest, the Mt. Aetna Tract is a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Diverse loop trails within a 700-acre forest offer opportunities for bird watching, mountain biking and hiking. A privately owned, upscale lodge within the forest provides a unique retreat. Not unusual to this region of Maryland, heavy winter snowfall supports a multitude of winter sports, like snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
The lands within Savage River State Forest were once seasonal hunting grounds of Native Americans who lived along the Potomac River and within the Ohio River Valley. The creation of the Cumberland Road, or National Pike as it was also known, during the early 1800s made this area a major thoroughfare for all travelers and settlers headed west. This resulted in flourishing industry and commerce as the area was settled amidst a vast area of virgin forest, which met the needs of early settelrs for wood materials.
Birding enthusiasts can expect to see a wide variety of avian life that includes both forest interior dwellers, such as ovenbirds, along with more common, edge species like the indigo bunting. Red-tailed and broad-winged hawks are a few of the raptors that may be seen soaring overhead. Nighttime reveals the calls of great-horned and screech owls as they begin their nocturnal forays through the forest.
Small creatures such as the long-tailed salamander also inhabit the forest. Its bright yellow to orange color and black dots make identification easy. Hardwood forests and small streams are the ideal habitat for this unique creature. Please be careful not to disturb this sensitive, small creature.
A vast array of trees, shrubs and wildflowers are colorfully displayed throughout the seasons. April brings the magnificent blooms of spring beauties and trout lilies. You may be treated to the beauty of pink lady slippers and trilliums during May and early June.
July is punctuated by the flowering of native rhododendrons in white blossom, followed by the red splendor of bee balm and cardinal flowers. The finest colors arrive in the fall as the native hardwoods begin to change. Various shades of red, orange, yellow and purple will flood your senses and remain a fond memory long after your visit has ended.
Within the Mt. Aetna Tract are 45 acres of private land, owned by the Savage River Lodge. Lodge visitors can enjoy an upscale, rustic retreat and access to professional guide and outdoor services. The Lodge has 18 luxurious log cabins, a gourmet restaurant and bar, gift shop, fly fishing shop and Nordic Ski Center. The facility is open to guests of the Lodge who are staying, dining or participating in outdoor activities. Anyone visting the Lodge is asked to register at the fron desk.
At the Savage River crossing there is a public parking lot built and maintained by the Forest Service for public access. For more information about Savage River Lodge visit: www.savageriverlodge.com or call 301-689-3200.
Please Play Safe!
Savage River State Forest's trails are popular for hiking, mountain biking and wildlife viewing. Snowfall during a wet winter can exceed 120 inches, providing excellent conditions for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Please remember that the forest is a natural area with certain hazards, such as poison ivy and slippery trail surfaces. Remember, you are responsible for having the necessary skills, knowledge and equipment for a safe and environmentally sensitive visit.
While there are no developed campsites in the Mt. Aetna Area of Savage River State Forest, opportunities for camping exist in other areas of the forest and nearby at New Germany and Big Run State Parks. Camping information may be obtained by contacting the forest headquarters office.
Hunting is permitted throughout the forest except where posted with safety zone signs. Hunters should consult their hunting guide for exact seasons and bag limits. Please be aware of boundary markers indicating private property. The State Forest boundary lines are marked with yellow paint on trees. For more information about hunting on Maryland's public lands, visit www.dnr.state.md.us/huntersguide
Off-road vehicles are not permitted in the Mt. Aetna Tract, but other areas of the forest do provide ORV trails. Snowmobile and off-road vehicle operators can purchase a Department of Natural Resources ORV sticker at the forest headquarters.
While you are enjoying the forest, please help us protect its natural and historic resources by following these Leave No Trace ethics.
From Washington, D.C./Baltimore: Approximate travel time is 3 hours. Follow I-70 west to I-68 west past Cumberland. Take exit #29 (Finzel) and proceed south on Beall School Road approximately 1 mile. Make a right turn onto Frostburg Road. Take the left fork to remain on Frostburg Road. Travel approximately 2.6 miles and turn right onto Mt. Aetna Road. Just after the first bridge crossing you will see a public parking area on the right.
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)