Nestled between the Eastern Continental Divide and the Appalachian Trail, the mountains of Western Maryland offer modern outdoor enthusiasts a unique mix of 19th century industrial heritage, an acoustic music scene and mystical ridge and valley views.
The history of this up-and-coming hiking and cycling destination goes back to the first British explorations into the headwaters of the Potomac River. George Washington, Nathaniel Gist and Daniel Boone were among the young colonials recruited by the crown to secure English trading rights into the Ohio Valley. By the time he was 24, Washington was leading British troops against the French and their Native American allies from Fort Cumberland – parts of which can still be explored by appointment.
The roads and river trails established in Mountain Maryland in the 1750s morphed into the National Road and the C&O Canal not long after the Revolution and led to a water, land and rail boom that turned this area Maryland into a Gateway to the West from the Mid-Atlantic region by the beginning in the 20th century.
Today, Cumberland is a vintage steam punk vibe city in the middle of roughly 120,000 acres of public lands in Maryland’s two westernmost counties. Only two hours from Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington DC, these mountains offer a wide range of hiking and cycle levels. On one hand, the C&O Canal Tow Path meet the Great Allegany Passage Rail Trail here. On the other Greene Ridge State Forest and the Savage River State Forest offer more extreme trails, a dramatic views of the Potmac and the Savage rivers.
The home of nationally renowned DelFest music festival, Mountain Maryland is also becoming a hot bed for acoustic music, in the university town of Frostburg and the striking historic district in downtown Cumberland. Main street Frostburg music jams year round from local pubs and indoor venues. Cumberland’s music is primarily presented outdoors between May and October.
Mountain Maryland adventures can be well considered on-line from mdmountainside.com, the region’s official visitor website.