The first thing to catch your eye as you descend westward on Martin Mountain on I-68 in western Maryland is the dramatic setting of Rocky Gap State Park’s massive 220-room resort lodge, built along the southern shore of Lake Habeeb. Below Evitt’s Mountain’s lush hillside, the manicured greens of a golf course stretch between the lodge and the four-lane highway.
A 9.9-mile circuit hike using the Rocky, Shortcut, Evitt’s Homsite, and Lakeside trails along with an unnamed red-blazed route will take you by an early settler’s homesite, out to the Mason/Dixon line, and into a steep-walled canyon.
Hoping to escape the memories of a lost love, Mr. Evitts built a cabin on what is now his namesake mountain in the 1730s; a caved-in well and some old stone walls are mute evidence of his life.
The state park boundary is marked by a pipeline right-of-way that climbs over ridgelines, following the course of the Mason-Dixon Line. To settle a dispute between the followers of William Penn and the descendants of George Calvert, British astronomers and surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were commissioned in 1765 to establish the boundary between the two colonies.
Within the park’s steep-walled canyon, sunlight filtering through a thick forest of hemlock and rhododendron dapples the boulders and cascades of Rocky Gap Run as water escapes from Lake Habeeb to wend its way to the far-off Chesapeake Bay.
Purchase a trail map at the park office or consult “50 Hikes in Maryland” for more information.