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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Maryland's Big Savage Mountain

Heavy forests and the roar of whitewater wait in this section of the Appalachian Mountains.

by: Joe Savage

PAGE 1 2

Contact Information:

Maryland Forest, Park and Wildlife Service
Savage River Complex
349 Headquarters Lane
Grantsville, MD 21536
(301) 895-5759

New Germany and Big Run State Parks
Rt. 2
Grantsville, MD 21536
(301) 895-5453

Location: The Big Savage is on the northwestern border of Maryland, in the Appalachian Plateau Region of Garrett County. It's about 150 miles west of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and 300 miles west of Philadelphia. This is the birthplace of the Savage and Casselman rivers. Separated by the Continental Divide, each river flows in an opposite direction. Grantsville is 4 miles from park headquarters. Cumberland ((301) 334-1948) and Allegheny County ((301) 722-2820) are also nearby.

Getting There: No information is available.

Seasonal Information: Summer hiking can be refreshingly cool. Fall ventures along the Savage may be a chilling experience. Snow can arrive as early as November and may remain as late as early April. Temperature extremes range from -20 in winter to 90 degrees F in summer.

Wildlife: Diverse wildlife ranges from black bears to brook trout, from great-horned owls to long-tailed salamanders. Mammals include deer, bobcat, raccoon, squirrel, beaver, and bats. There are over 100 species of birds including hawks, owls, grouse, wild turkey, and songbirds. Snakes, turtles, and frogs complete the long list of wildlife.

Insects: Because of its altitude, the area is relatively free of insect pests.

Plant Life: Most of the area is red and white oak and hickory, but there is also red maple, ash, sugar and red maple, yellow and black birch, beech, basswood, tulip poplar, and black cherry. Important evergreen species are white pine and hemlock. Mountain azalea and rhododendron provide color.

Facilities: There is primitive camping by permit; self-register at the office. Primitive campgrounds are located at Elk Lick, Poplar Lick, Savage River Road, and Whitewater. Backpacking is encouraged along Monroe Run and the Big Savage Mountain trails.

Within New Germany and Big Run state parks, there are slightly more developed sites, including sites to accommodate motor homes. New Germany also offers cabins.

Parking: No information available.

Permits: Obtain primitive camping permit for $2 from the state park office.

Policies: Camping is forbidden in the Big Savage Mountain Wildland.

Hazards: There is no potable water, so bring your own, boil spring water, or use a filter.

Leave No Trace: All LNT guidelines apply.

Maps: Maps are available from Maryland Forest Park and Wildlife Service.

Other Trip Options: Running through the area, the Savage River is one of the steepest rivers in the world, dropping 85 feet per mile.

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Gary Eugene Savage
Dec 21, 2009

My Great Grand Dad was John Savage and my great grand mother was an American Indian Woman.

I guess I am part of american history concerning Big Savage Mountain.

you can read more about my life @


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