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Primitive Camping in Green Ridge State Forest

Updated on August 14, 2014

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.

Camping

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.

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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.

Hiking

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)

Driving

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
This is an example of paved roads in GRSF.Dirt roads.  The vast majority of the roads in Green Ridge are dirt roads.Heed the 4x4 warning signs!Note the washout. They zig-zag across the 4x4 roads and are sometimes fairly deep.Mud? I love mud!  It's definitely a good idea to have a tow strap for these areas. Just in case.
This is an example of paved roads in GRSF.
This is an example of paved roads in GRSF.
Dirt roads.  The vast majority of the roads in Green Ridge are dirt roads.
Dirt roads. The vast majority of the roads in Green Ridge are dirt roads.
Heed the 4x4 warning signs!
Heed the 4x4 warning signs!
Note the washout. They zig-zag across the 4x4 roads and are sometimes fairly deep.
Note the washout. They zig-zag across the 4x4 roads and are sometimes fairly deep.
Mud? I love mud!  It's definitely a good idea to have a tow strap for these areas. Just in case.
Mud? I love mud! It's definitely a good idea to have a tow strap for these areas. Just in case.

Geocaching

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.

Blackburnian Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler

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
There are several old cemeteries on the property. One of the dates on this stone is 1806.Log Roll Overlook.The overlook that is above the Potomac River.
There are several old cemeteries on the property. One of the dates on this stone is 1806.
There are several old cemeteries on the property. One of the dates on this stone is 1806.
Log Roll Overlook.
Log Roll Overlook.
The overlook that is above the Potomac River.
The overlook that is above the Potomac River.

Helpful Links

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.

Eureka! Apex 2XT - Tent (sleeps 2)
Eureka! Apex 2XT - Tent (sleeps 2)

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.

 
Lodge LDP3 Reversible Grill/Griddle, 9.5-inch x 16.75-inch
Lodge LDP3 Reversible Grill/Griddle, 9.5-inch x 16.75-inch

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.

 
TETON Sports Celsius XXL -18C/0F Sleeping Bag; 0 Degree Sleeping Bag Great for Cold Weather Camping; Black, Right Zip
TETON Sports Celsius XXL -18C/0F Sleeping Bag; 0 Degree Sleeping Bag Great for Cold Weather Camping; Black, Right Zip

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.

 
ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters - DoubleNest Hammock, Red/Charcoal
ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters - DoubleNest Hammock, Red/Charcoal

Our hammock finally gave up. I want this one next!

 

Guestbook - Please, leave any thoughts, comments, or questions.

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    • MarathonRunning profile image

      Martina 2 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Thank you for this nice article! It`s very informative and accompanied with some nice pictures. You made it to show us how this is a place for all kinds of nature lovers :)

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 2 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      This is a delightful summary of primitive camping in Green Ridge State Forest. It's really terrific that States (and the Federal Government) has protected our forests for the enjoyment of campers, hikers, and other nature activities. Green Ridge sounds like a beautiful place for nature lovers.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 2 years ago from United States

      Sounds like an absolute paradise and you know I would love photographing the wildlife. Funny thing, my husband was walking a trail a few weeks ago and found a Geocaching cache at the base of a tree. He signed the book, left a compass and put it right back. That was the first cache either of us has every found. He took pictures for me :) Stinker! I think he was just gloating that he was the first one of us to find one. lol

    • profile image

      anonymous 2 years ago

      A beautiful place! I'd be intrigued by the old cemeteries!

    • DawnRae64 profile image
      Author

      Dawn 2 years ago from Maryland, USA

      @Ruthi: Ruthi, I'm the same way. I love looking at those old family cemeteries that just are there in the edge of some field or woods. So cool.

    • DawnRae64 profile image
      Author

      Dawn 2 years ago from Maryland, USA

      @MarathonRunning: You are welcome. It's so easy to share a place that you love.

    • DawnRae64 profile image
      Author

      Dawn 2 years ago from Maryland, USA

      @Wednesday-Elf: I agree. I can't wait to get the book about the history of Green Ridge so I can learn exactly how it came to be.

    • DawnRae64 profile image
      Author

      Dawn 2 years ago from Maryland, USA

      @Sylvestermouse: Haha Mouse, that's funny.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 2 years ago from Colorado

      This is exactly the kind of place I love to explore. I found this review very enticing. If it was a reasonable drive from here, I would be packing up my tent and hitting the road (like five minutes ago). Your really have a talent for travel writing. Can't wait to see where you take us next.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 2 years ago from London UK

      Such an amazing hub! I have shared it with all my social network. I would love to have a camping trip there - it's just my kind of place. But I would be very worried about the brown bears!!! Wow - the worse we have here in the UK is.... em... well nothing!! That would be a scary adventure for sure. Have you ever come across a bear?

    • DawnRae64 profile image
      Author

      Dawn 2 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I have seen bears on three occasions... all three while driving on the smaller roads and watching in the woods. Once was a momma bear sending her two cubs up a tree. One night, we believe a bear came close to the tent. We both thought the other smelled funny. I asked the Mister if he had passed gas. Then the smell got worse. Our little dog was growling quietly and looking out into the dark. The next morning we found bear droppings a little ways from the tent. The bear was clearly traveling the game path through the woods and not very interested in us. I have to say...I was a bit scared when I realized there had been a bear around and I had just thought the Mister had made a smell! I do fell comfortable camping as long as the dog is with us. And I keep our food in trees just in case.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Green Ridge State Forest sounds like a place that I would love stay awhile at, Dawn. I love outdoor living.

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