It is no secret that hiking is a great pastime for nature exploration and outdoor recreation, but it also has the ability to benefit the body and the mind. All of which are important perks during the cold, darker winter months.
So, this season, take advantage of destinations that offer incredible backdrops and plenty of miles for adventure. Allegany County, the Mountain Side of Maryland, is home to 60,000 acres of public land and hundreds of miles of trail systems.
We’ve gathered some of our favorite trails around the county to help inspire you to get out and explore.
ROCKY GAP STATE PARK
CANYON OVERLOOK TRAIL
This easy, 0.3-mile trail gives you a magnificent view of Rocky Gap State Park’s one-mile-long gorge. This loop trail offers visitors a short but scenic hike.
LAKESIDE LOOP TRAIL
A moderate 5.3-mile trail that encircles the 243-acre Lake Habeeb, this hike offers scenic beauty as you cross footbridges, trek along the lake’s shoreline, and wind through the woodlands of the State Park. Don’t be surprised at the many native animal species you spot along the way.
TOUCH OF NATURE TRAIL
This quarter-mile trail offers hikers of all ability levels a paved trail with benches lining the hemlock-edged path that leads to fishing docks, so consider bringing along a pole, and it connects to the Lakeside Loop Trail for an additional workout or moment with nature.
GREAT ALLEGHENY PASSAGE TRAIL
The Great Allegheny Passage is an internationally-recognized rail trail that follows the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad tracks for 16 miles from Cumberland, MD, to Frostburg, MD, and continues all the way to Pittsburgh, PA, to create 150 miles of pedestrian recreation trail. Access the trail from one of four public access points in Mountain Maryland, at the Frostburg Depot (Frostburg), Cash Valley (LaVale), Valley Street (Cumberland), and Canal Place (Cumberland), for a relatively flat and enchanting forest-lined walk along the trail. Don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of a passing diesel train from the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
C&O CANAL TOWPATH
Stretching 184.5 miles along the C&O Canal, from Georgetown to Cumberland, MD, the C&O Canal National Historical Park and Towpath follows the path built for mules to walk beside canal boats as they towed them through the waterway. Today, the park is Maryland’s most popular National Park, filled with hiking, biking, and recreation opportunities. You can access the park and towpath through public access points at Fifteen Mile Creek Recreation Area, Town Creek, Oldtown, Spring Gap Recreation Area, and Canal Place. 2021 also marks the 50th Anniversary of the C&O Canal being designated a National Park.
GREEN RIDGE STATE FOREST
Green Ridge State Forest is Maryland’s largest contiguous forest, with 49,000 acres and over 50 miles of hiking trails available for day hikes or multi-day backpacking experiences. Be sure to grab a trail guide with a map available at their headquarters.
- Scenic Overlook Trail – 50 Yards (Easy)
- Pine Lick Trail – 6 Miles (Moderate) (Blue)
- Twin Oaks Hiking Trail – 4 Mile Loop (Moderate) (Pink)
- Long Pond Trail – 9 Miles (Difficult) (Red)
- Deep Run/Big Run Trail – 7 Miles (Moderate) (Green)
- Log Roll Trail – 4.5 Miles (Moderate) (Orange)
- Great Eastern Trail – 18 Miles (Moderate/Difficult) (White)
Not really one for day-hiking? Be sure to locate and walk out to any of Green Ridge State Forest’s five overlooks along their Scenic Driving Tour for incredible views to start your new year.
HISTORIC WALKING TOURS
Want to stick close to town for a more urban hike? Take one of Mountain Maryland’s Historic Walking Tours. These self-guided tours are available in Frostburg, MD, and Cumberland, MD, and take you on a journey to see remarkable downtown architecture, as well as learn interesting tidbits of the history of each city and the region as a whole. Plus, who doesn’t want to break up the hike with a refreshing beer from one of the county’s breweries, or snack on some decadent sweets from the Allegany County Ice Cream Trail?
Maryland. Be open for it.