In July 2002 I was on a vacation trip to northeastern ballparks, so I decided to bag a couple of state high points while I was on the road.
I had spent the previous night at Frostburg, Md., a nice city with a state college campus attached. The drive down via MD-36, MD-135, and US-219 was very pleasant. The morning was not yet hot, but it was very humid. I made a brief stop at the nearby "smallest church" and "smallest postal facility," both of which were unstaffed and sold postcards on the honor system.
I found the trailhead easily on US-219 in West Virginia, and set out around 9:20a. I wore long Levi's in case I encountered any copperheads, but the only wildlife I saw were squirrels, chipmunks, and lots of bugs. Don't YOU forget your insect repellant! The trail is well-enough marked and pretty much intuitive. It is worth taking the very short detour to see the state-line monument, just before you reach the Maryland high point. Allowing for a couple of brief rests I reached the summit before 10:00a EDT, where I signed the register and took a couple of snapshots.
I can't say that I encountered any problems, and I certainly met no other hikers. There would have been a view from the top, but the high humidity made the atmosphere very hazy. The trip down took about 25 minutes. Then it was on to Mount Davis.
I've hike the MD HP twice before in 1999 and 2001. My post here is in reference to driving past the trailhead Jan 2003. Since I knew where to look, I was looking for markings of the trailhead. Going south on 219 there is some big MD HP spraypainted on the guardrail. However going north (from the south) there is no clear sign. The best early warning going north is passing the wind farm at the ridge of Backbone Mt before the Trailhead to the MD HP. If you see the sign for the Smallest Church, you've gone too far. Remember the trailhead for the MD HP is in WV, as is almost all the hike. I hope this helps.
The State Highway Adm for WV does not appreciate the spray paint on the guardrail indicating the Maryland Highpoint. There is a sign up in the tree on the left from the South - it is high so that it does not disappear.
Coming from the North there is a WV Adopt-A-Road sign with the words "Maryland Highpoint Friends" - this is to give notice that the entrance is close by as noted by the various pull offs for parking on your left.
As soon as winter breaks from all of the heavy snow and spring fills the air, improvements will be made as far as signage.
Bear with us, please.
Thanks and enjoy Maryland's Highest Point. Leave only Footprints.
I got to the ridge of Backbone Mountain, the Highpoint of Maryland at 3,360 feet, on Wednesday afternoon, October 29th, 2003. It was my 16th state highpoint.
I enjoyed the drive north from Spruce Knob, seeing the beautiful Seneca Rocks again from a different angle. The directions in both the Wingers and Holmes guidebooks are from the north. Since I was coming from the south I thought I would have to drive up to SR 24 and then back track. However I saw the sign for the Smallest Church in the 48 States and stopped there for a quick visit. Then I drove back south ½ mile to the orange HP sign which I did not notice on my way north. I parked along side the road, not realizing that there was a good size parking area a couple hundred yards up the logging road. I started my climb at 3:30PM and reached the summit 25 minutes later. The trail was well marked and easy to follow although it was a little slippery due to the light drizzle and wet leaves. The temperature was 45 degrees and it was cloudy. On my way to the summit I took the rocky path shown in the Wingers guidebook, stopping at the State Line Marker #3 and took the easy path going back down. This highpoint was very well maintained and it was the first one I have found with HP completion certificates and my first HP east of the Mississippi with a sign in book. There was a very nicely built cairn, over 5 feet tall, and the view was great if you dont mind the smokestacks off in the distance. I sat at the picnic table, signed the logbook and started back down. I wanted to get going before it got much darker. I like getting off the Interstates and driving the country roads whenever possible but Im not too crazy about driving dark mountain roads at night. Of course I am ever watchful of other traffic, particularly drunks and other lunatics, but mostly Im concerned about hitting deer and other critters crossing the roadway. I do have deer whistles on my car and they seem to work on deer but I dont think they are very effective for smaller animals.
I made it to Washington, PA by 7:30PM and spent the night at the Motel 6, taking advantage of my AARP discount one more time. The following day I drove the Interstates all the way back home to Illinois, arriving at 6:30PM Central Time.
2nd highpoint of three this day, along with PA and WV.
This was a very rewarding highpoint for both of us - I have never hiked in rain like this. When we arrived at the trailhead there was another group leaving, who was concerned at our lack of adequet clothing in the rain. Figuring it was a short hike (and trusting the 'hot and humid but dry' weather reports - doh!)I was in a duofold tshirt and cotton shorts. They offered us trash bags to wear, but we declined - because as hard as it was raining we were still warm. Wet isn't bad as long as I'm warm. He also told me with disdain about how someone told him it was only a 20 minute walk to the top when it took him a lot longer. His was more of a nature hike however, and when it took a fat guy like me just 30 minutes to make it up there I knew that his stops to appreciate nature were taking longer than he thought. Anyway, it did only take 30 minutes to get up there, and thankfully the trail wasn't a mud trap but rather a well-consolidated gravel path. A word of advice is that if its raining, avoid the left spur that takes you to state line marker #3 - those rocks are extremely slippery. By the time we got to the top we we couldn't have been wetter if we jumped into a swimming pool. My duofold shirt was all right, but the cotton shorts were so heavy with water they had started to fall down from my waist. Interesting observation on the disadvantages of cotton - and, by the way, when we got home 12 hours later the shorts were still damp. Anyway, at the top the rain was still going strong with no sign of letting up so we took photographs from the picnic table which was under a tree (we used a ziploc bag to keep the camera dry on the hike itself), added a rock to the enourmous cairn at the summit and started down.
When we got to the bottom there was a couple with florida plates just starting out and if my memory serves, they were wearing blue jeans. i wonder how they fared in the rain, which had by now lightened - slightly - but it was still real rain. Their comment to me was "we thought we were the only ones crazy enough to come here today."
The rain was unusually heavy but it didn't dampen our spirits at all - in fact, we're pretty much thrilled about the rain because it makes for such a good story. My endorphins were kicking on the way down and I felt like taking on the world. It was probably the most rewarding highpoint so far - and there wasn't even a view to take in!
Be sure to check out the smallest church in the lower 48 while you're here - it's a neat little attraction and less than a mile from the trailhead.
after summiting Mt Davis (Pa) earlier in the day, we took a nice country drive down St Rt 219 to Backbone Mountain. Near Backbone Mountain, I got lost many times, stopped following my bad directions, and asked for a local's help. He pointed us in a better direction, and .......well we got there! Finding a one lane access road, while going around curvy roads in the woods took some time and backtracking.
The hike to the top, is about a mile continuously uphill. Not too stressful. It was a cool, overcast day, and we didn't see anyone else on the Mountain. I carried our 16 month old son up the hill in our papoose backpack, and he fell asleep in the carrier on the way back down.
We headed here after driving from Annapolis to Spruce Knob. Threatening but clearing weather was present throughout the day. We missed the trail head and drove by the first time, but realized our mistake in about a mile. We had the pleasure of following an erratic driver with an I Love Mountains bumper sticker for about 20 miles before that. Seems that use of turn outs is not part of his love. This was also pretty country of the type not seen often along the Pacific, at least not until one heads to Big Sur.
We finally parked when we spotted what turned out to be the road. Only then did we see the white sign with the black printing indicating that it was the trailhead. The sign hangs from a tree. Route finding on the old road is aided by a very large number of painted markers and ducks. It was pretty damp and drippy, making the footing slightly slippery where the fall leaves lay wet upon wet slick rocks. The turn to the left is marked by a duck that is close to two feet high. We visited that state line marker and then on to the highpoint. There is a clearing in the trees that provided a limited view back into Maryland. We then descended back into WV and headed for PA. My 9th, my wife's 8th.
Loyalty to the country always - loyalty to the government when it deserves it
--------- Mark Twain
After leaving Elkins, West Virginia, having visited Spruce Knob the pervious day, we headed up U.S. 219 to Maryland's highest point.
We had to drive buy the forest service road a couple of times before we noticed the sign on a tree for Maryland's highpoint. The chain across the road was down, so we drove a short distance up the road to a clearing and parked there. I enjoyed this highpoint, because it took some effort to get there. I thought it was a very nice hike up to the summit.
As soon as we got to the summit, a helicopter came up from the valley, as if it were checking us out.
When we got back down to U.S. 219, a group from Pennsylvania was preparing to hike up to the summit.
Summit number 4 for me, and number 2 for my high school friend. Now, on to Pennsylvania!