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Primitive Camping in Green Ridge State Forest
Our idea of a perfect staycation.
Welcome to Green Ridge State Forest. "It's no walk in the park" is the proud declaration printed on the map distributed by Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Boy howdy, they aren't kidding. On second thought, perhaps it is a warning.
Green Ridge is 47,560 acres of State Forest located near Flintsone, Maryland. It is an amazing place that will delight anyone looking for primitive camping and outdoor recreation adventures. Things to do in addition to camping include: hiking, biking, driving, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and sightseeing. I just today learned that geocaching is the newest park approved activity. The forest is located in western Maryland and is not for folks who are looking for 5-star luxury. If you like rugged beauty, this is your place.
Image Credit: Dawn Rae -- All Rights Reserved. All photos in this article, unless otherwise indicated, are mine and are a result of my travels.
Green Ridge State Forest offers 100 campsites with no plumbing or amenities other than a picnic table and fire ring made of stones. Because the area ranges in elevation from 500 ft above sea level near the Potomac River to 2,000 ft above sea level near Town Hill, there are a variety of site options.
Sites are on first come/first serve basis. If you arrive during park business hours, you register in the office and park rangers can help you with any questions you have. If you arrive after the office is closed, you will find a clip board with available sites in the lean-to building. You sign your name and pertinent information on the sign up sheet and drop your camping fees into the metal tube drop box where indicated.
I have seen RVs pulled into a couple of sites here at Green Ridge. I am not aware of any sites that have water, electric, or sewer hook-up, but that hasn’t stopped some RV owners to camp here. But the vast majority of campers come equipped with four-wheel drive vehicles and tents. When I owned my small car (a Mazda 3 hatchback; complete with low-profile tires) I still had plenty of choices for campsites. Some of the sites are accessible by paved country road. I currently own a Jeep and I prefer the 4wd accessible sites. If that is what you are looking for, you will have plenty of choices here.
Have You Ever Been To Green Ridge State Forest.
Green Ridge State Forest, Flintstone, Maryland.
Leave No Trace - Camping with ethics
Primitive camping includes (should include) thoughts about how to be a part of the wilderness without scarring the earth. The only thing I dislike about Green Ridge are the dirty people. Come on folks, no one wants to see your tufts of T.P just a few feet from camp, behind a tree as though trying to hide it creates sanitary conditions. If you don't know what a "cat hole" is or aren't familiar with the phrase "leave no trace" please take a look at these books. Even though I practice some green camping ethics, I plan to order one of these books to see if I can learn something new.
Leave no trace in a variety of settings.
Leave no trace by Backpacker Magazine.
A trail for every type of hiker.
I have hiked several trails at Green Ridge. I tend to be a bit random when I'm visiting and I decide to hike on somewhat of a whim. I'm very familiar with where the trail heads are and far less familiar with the names of the individual trails.
I love Log Roll trail and I've been down only a small bit of the trail. I tend to sit at Log Roll overlook rather than walk the trail when I'm there. I've also walked the trail that goes from Orleans road area down to the canal area. I found that trail a bit difficult as it required one leg to be shorter than the other for a significant portion of the trail. But it was beautiful and I nearly decided to go again during my last visit. There is a trail from Kirk Road that was beautiful and less difficult for me than the one that ran to the canal.
If you are a serious hiker, I’d strongly suggest that you purchase the trail maps and head out to Green Ridge.
Official Trail Information at a Glance
- Scenic Overlook Trail—50 Yards (Easy)
- Pine Lick Trail—6 Miles (Moderate) (Blue)
- Twin Oaks Hiking Trail—4 Mile Loop (Moderate) (Purple)
- 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)
Civilized roads, dirt roads, four-wheel-drive only, and ORV.
For those of you who have cars, you can enjoy Green Ridge State Forest. You will be on paved roads that are rougher than the National Freeway. You will likely be on some hard-packed dirt roads. If you are afraid of gravel and your meticulously kept car, you probably should make your friend drive their car. But as I mentioned, I began my visits in my Mazda3 and only occasionally had to turn around because I was on a road that was too much for my car (I wasn't worried about gravel but I was worried about crossing the wet section of the road at Cat Point Road.)
If you see the road signs that say "4x4" that means that only four-wheel drive vehicles should use these roads. When they give that warning, they are serious. You will encounter mud holes and washed out gullies from the rain. We have also encountered an occasional tree across the road and regularly find creeks or rivers that flow across the road. It is important, even when driving your dependable 4WD vehicle, that you have the supplies you may need in the event that you get stuck; shovel, jack, tow straps, and similar items.
Sad news folks, for those of you who knew about the ORV (off road vehicles) trails, they are now closed permanently at Green Ridge State Forest. I miss the ORV trails. I loved them so much... grinding along at just a mile or two per hour over the rocky and muddy terrain. Even though the statement is that they are permanently closed, I still watch the site with hope that they will someday reopen.
Green Ridge State Forest Road System - Paved, gravel, dirt, and 4x4 roads - there's something for everyone.Click thumbnail to view full-size
I am only recently aware of an activity called Geocaching. My understanding is that it is a sort of scavenger hunt and folks use their GPS devices to locate these caches. Green Ridge State Forest now has some officially approved geocaches.
The blurb on the Green Ridge site encourages geochachers to use the link below find the information on the geocaches located within the park. I am not a geochacher, but I bet that having a scavenger hunt in Green Ridge would be great fun.
Bird Watching and Wildlife Viewing
Pileated Woodpeckers, owls, wild turkeys, deer, and black bears have been just a few of the birds and animals I’ve seen while at Green Ridge. I have not yet seen a Blackburnian Warbler, but now that I am aware they live there you can bet I’ll be watching for them too.
I have seen Bears three times during my trips up there. All three times were while we were driving slowly along the remote roads and from a bit of a distance. Twice I’ve seen lone adult bears walking near one of the 4wd roads. Once I saw a momma bear send her two babies up a tree while we drove by. I have seen evidence of bears near the campsites where I camp; bear droppings or shredded and turned over old logs from the bears looking for food.
Last time I stayed a night at Green Ridge, just a week ago, I took an early morning drive into some of the lower areas (I like to camp in some of the higher areas) and I was rewarded with the gobbles of many tom turkeys, as they are beginning their dating season. If you look closely, anytime of year, you can often see wild turkeys crossing the roads. But don’t blink as they are the masters of disguise and will disappear immediately.
This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Photographer Matt Tillett.
This is bear country.
* Never keep food in your tent.
* Store food and garbage out of a bear's reach, by either storing your food in a bear-proof container or hanging it properly between two trees.
* If a bear comes into camp, don't feed it! Scare it away by making noise.
* See a forest employee to get more detailed information on how to camp in black bear country
Historical Green Ridge - A book I've just discovered that immediately went to me "to read" list!
Other than the old cemeteries, I have never given much thought to the history of Green Ridge State Forest and surrounding areas. After seeing this book offered on Amazon, I suddenly feel the need to know about how the park originated and the history of the area. I am thrilled to have found this on Amazon.
My Miscellaneous Photographs - Scenic overlooks, old cemeteries, and the Potomac River are just a few more things to see.Click thumbnail to view full-size
For more information, please check out these links.
Green Ridge State Forest
One of my favorite places on the face of the earth to be.
I love "getting away" and for me, Green Ridge is it. Because the park headquarters is located just off the National Free Highway (Highway 68) in Western Maryland, at exit 64, it is easy to access. If you are looking for rugged adventure, this is the place. I can't say "I'll see you there" because it's such an extensive park that I doubt that I will. But I do hope that if this type of place is your cup of tea, that you are able to visit.
Be safe, have fun, and always remember, leave no trace.
Other Items You May Need.
Everyone would list something slightly different as their top five items to take camping. While I sometimes camp in a very minimalist way (a lighter, my pillow, toothbrush, toothpaste and jugs of water) these are a few of the things that I would list as the things I feel I need to take along.
The tent my son uses and I hope to own soon. There are two small sections: one for you and one for your things. It's a handy little tent. His only negative comment about the tent to his momma: it's not for very cold weather.
This is the griddle we use when we are staying for an extended period of time or have more than just the two of us camping.
I need a new sleeping bag. I get cold easily. Everyone has preferences with sleeping bag styles. I find the "mummy" styles are too confining. So I sacrifice compact for room to wiggle.
Our hammock finally gave up. I want this one next!