After spending the previous night in Frostburg, Md., I had "conquered" Backbone Mountain in Maryland earlier on the morning of 18 July 2002. Having made excellent time, I decided to bag Mount Davis in Pennsylvania before heading on to Pittsburgh.
I entered Pennsylvania on MD-669 from Grantsville, Md., on the National Road (old US-40). There probably is a shorter direct route, but I had only a state highway map, so I continued on PA-669 to West Salisbury. From there I don't recall that the proper road is marked very well, if at all, but I found it to be the intuitive choice. After driving westbound a few miles you will see the large highway deparment sign announcing you are at Mount Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania. However, to actually get to the true high point you must continue a little further and turn left on a narrow but black-topped road. Take this a mile or two to the high point parking area. Mount Davis is in a state forest or conservation area, so there is no problem with access.
The place was nearly deserted on a summer Thursday morning. The only vehicle in the lot was a state maintenance truck. The only people I saw there were the state worker and another guy who looked very scruffy. Maybe he was a community-service convict.
From the parking lot it is a very short walk to the summit. There is a metal tower at the high point which affords a nice view above the treetops. And right nearby are a set of markers which expound upon the geology and natural history of the site. They are well worth reading.
The parking lot can hold a lot of cars, and has slots for buses, so I guess I caught the site on a very slow day.
I rose to the summit of Mt. Davis, the Highpoint of Pennsylvania at 3,213 feet, on Tuesday afternoon, October 28th, 2003. It was my 14th state highpoint.
I left my Fatherís house in New Jersey at 9:00AM and arrived at Mt. Davis at 3:30PM. It was a clear 50-degree fall day. When I first arrived there was a car with Florida license plates in the parking lot however the people quickly walked to the summit and soon left the area and then I had the mountain all to myself. I climbed the tower, looked at all the exhibits and walked a short trail back to the parking lot. It was quite windy on the tower and I had to hold on to my hat.
I followed the directions provided in the Wingerís guidebook going to Mt. Davis and followed the directions in Don Holmesí guidebook leaving Mt. Davis. The primary route from the town of Meyersdale, provided by Don Holmes, is actually a better road that is paved all the way to the highpoint and would be the best route if coming south from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but the only route provided by Charlie and Diane Winger is a lot shorter if you are coming north from I-68 which is probably the way most people would take. This route is listed as an alternate route in the Holmes guidebook. This is Amish country so watch for slow moving horse and buggies on both routes. I saw several on the roadway and many more in peoplesí yards. As I was leaving Mt. Davis I noticed a big sign on SR 2004 indicating that this point of the road was crossing Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania. I wonder how many people see that sign and think they are actually at the highpoint and donít go any further.
If it had still been summer I would have continued south to climb Backbone Mountain in Maryland but since it was starting to get dark I drove back east, where I had seen quite a few Motels from I-68, to try to find a reasonable room for the night. With an early start it would be fairly easy to complete the highpoints of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia all in one day, especially during summer months when it stays light until 9:00PM. The first few Motels I checked were either full or close to being full and all were more expensive than I prefer. I try not to spend more than $50 per night, especially when Iím by myself. I finally stopped at the Slumberland Motel in Lavale, MD, which had a sign advertising ďSenior DiscountsĒ. I got one of their last rooms for $49.80 with my AARP discount. I guess thereís at least one good thing about getting old. I asked why the Motels in the area were so booked and the owner said it was mostly construction workers. I didnít notice any but apparently there must be lots of construction going on somewhere in the area.
First of three highpoints (MD and WV followed). Left Rockland County NY at 6am, didn't arrive in PA until about noon - it took a lot longer than I thought. It was an overcast drive and got excited at the sight of sunlight in harrisburg, but by the time we got there it was raining like hell - and it had just started. We waited in the car for a few minutes until I thought I saw a break in the rain and went for it. The walk to the highpoint from the parking lot is probably less than 200 feet. The break in the rain turned out not to be a break at all and we took cover underneath the observation tower, trying to keep my camera dry. Decided that we might as well climb the stairs and stand underneath the platform rather than wait for a break at ground level. My companion wasn't thrilled with waiting around up this tower because he was afraid of heights. We finally did go up to the top platform and spent about 90 seconds there in the light rain. After this, we returned to cover underneath the tower and the rain really intensified so we waited about 15 minutes during the torrential downpour that followed. Finally, we had enough of a break to go shoot a couple of photos at the actual highpoint and at the sign (which you see above.) When we got to the car, our we summoned our resourceful instincts and found a ziploc bag that enclosed some NY/NJ TC maps that I happened to have left in the car - which was a perfect enclosure which kept my camera dry on the two subsequent highpoints of the day.
A quick warning: Beware of Amish buggies - they travel very slow and they're sometimes concealed behind a hill or a curve, which will surprise you and potentially create a very bad situation if you're driving too fast on these back roads.
We took I-68 to exit 24 and approached through Salisbury.
Our 3rd highpoint. We ended up reaching Mt Davis from the town of Salisbury. The local people we asked directions from, seemed pretty friendly. It was foggy and somewhat chilly on Mt Davis. Alot of nice ferns and different trees in the nearby woods. Our 3rd highpoint, and we've had to walk a total of less than a 1/4 mile from our van to summit all 3.
From Annapolis to Spruce Knob to Backbone to Davis to Hershey, PA makes for a long day. We did well until we were almost into the park surrounding Mt. Davis. We then somehow did not find the correct county road, but proceeded onwards and lucked into finding a very new looking sign saying "Mt. Davis." We took it at its word and in a few more miles came to the park and the "trail" to the summit. We consulted the maps and directions once more since this is a drive up and then proceeded around to the correct parking lot, climbed the tower, got cold and headed on, after what was, by then, already a long day with us way off schedule. We should have eaten in one of the little restaurants nearby. Instead, we got on the Interstate and paid the price for it by eventually being forced to eat Interstate foot - always the worst. The red substance on my wife's pasta at Fazzolli's (sp?) must have had chemicals drained from a Superfund site mixed in. My "fettucine" was not much better. And then more hours to Hershey. Nevertheless, a good day of highpointing even if it only involved one with walking. We stood atop 3 states, traveled through two others and DC. The Pennsylvania countryside that we were able to see before sunset was very pretty - same for northern Maryland. My 10th, my wife's 9th
Loyalty to the country always - loyalty to the government when it deserves it
--------- Mark Twain
What a pretty and interesting drive from Blackbone Mountain to Mt. Davis. Although the wind turbines took away from the natural beauty of the landscape. I saw them as a thing of beauty for the future of our country.
Although over developed, driving through the Deep Creek Lake area was a nice drive. One of the nicest parts of our trip to Mt. Davis was our lunch stop at a nice little diner in Salisbury, Pennsylvania. It is on the main drag, near the town's stoplight. They serve up hot dogs in a way that was alien to my frend and I. They were deep fried, cut in thirds, and served on a hamburger bun. I had a BLT, my friend suggested I try the hot dogs if I'm ever in the area again.
As we were driving along the road, we came upon a vandalized sign the said Mt. Davis, Highest Point in Pennsylvania, 3,713 Feet. There is a pull off across the road from the sign so we pulled in. The sign leads one to think that this spot is the highpoint. One car pulled in, took a picture of the sign, and drove off.
We had to drive up and down the road a couple of times before we found the forest service road that led to the highpoint parking area. We were confused because the direction I had were for traveling from the north, we were coming from the south.
It was starting to thunder and lightning, so our stay was brief. When we were ther, a couple drove up to the parking area, climbed the observation tower, kissed, came down and drove away.
I was impressed that people were constantly coming and going from the highpoints we visited on this trip.
Number 5 for me, and number 3 for my friend.
I really enjoyed my first highpointing road trip. My wife and I are going to take a day and visit Indiana's high point over the holiday weekend coming up.