While Deep Creek Lake in Western Maryland is 3,900 acres in size, and the lake in Herrington Manor State Park has 53 acres of water, the lake in New Germany State Park is barely 13 acres. However, the lake is not really what I want to tell you about. Rather, it is the wonderful time you can have in the woods in New Germany during the winter. The park’s 10 miles of pathways follow old roads or have been built, for the most part, on gentle grades to ease the way for cross-country skiers. This means that it is possible to glide about all day long and have barely more than 800 feet in total vertical rise, a very easy outing for such mountainous terrain. In addition, if conditions are right, park personnel groom and track the routes to make the skiing even more pleasurable.
On the weekends, the recreation hall is open and you can warm yourself beside a wood stove. If you don’t have your own skis, Allegany Expeditions (www.alleganyexpeditions.com; 301-722-5170) offers ski rentals and lessons if you’re a beginning cross-country skier or want to improve the skills you’ve been relying on for years. The park’s lower elevations are characterized by small babbling streams, hemlock groves, and growths of great rhododendron, while the higher reaches are covered in a forest of mixed hardwoods with an under-story of mountain laurel and striped maple. The trails will not deliver you to any spectacular waterfalls or open up any grand vistas of the surrounding countryside, but they will provide you with the opportunity to meander through a quiet woodland, surveying the different small parts of the forest that come together to make up the whole.
More information about Maryland’s state parks may be found at www.dnr.state.md.us. One of my books, 50 Hikes in Maryland, describes a 6.1-mile outing on New Germany’s trail system.