Getting the Big
Green Ridge State Forest
Green Ridge as you see it
today is nearly 30,000 acres of forest land. But its modern appearance
belies its history of human use -- and misuse. There was a time when
hardly a tree stood anywhere in what is now Green Ridge State Forest due
to human exploitation. If you know where to look once you are in the
forest, there is plenty of evidence of the history of that misuse.
In the early 1800s,
partners Richard Caton and William Carroll owned much of the land that is
Green Ridge State Forest today. Richard Caton was the son-in-law of
Charles Carroll of Carollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
William Carroll was the grandson of Daniel Carroll of Rock Creek, a framer
of the U.S. Constitution. Their business venture at Green Ridge, involving
iron ore and timber, failed. The Carroll Chimney, a part of a
steam-powered sawmill built in the 1830s, is the only surviving structure
from this period.
The Mertens family from
Cumberland, Maryland, acquired the property from the Carroll heirs. During
the late 1800s and early 1900s, Mertens cut, burned, and converted the
forest into an apple orchard. They promoted it as “the largest apple
orchard in the universe.” This business venture also failed.
Consequently, in 1918 the Mertens went into bankruptcy.
Green Ridge State Forest
officially came into existence when the State Department of Forestry
acquired portions of this property in 1931. At this time, the forest was
in very poor condition and consisted of 14,400 acres. Seventy years later
it has grown to 41,000 acres. Since the 1930s, wildfires have been
reduced, young stands of trees are reaching maturity, wildlife habitat
conditions have improved, and opportunities for a variety of outdoor
recreation have increased. The forest is yielding benefits in greater
supply, including wood products, fish and wildlife, recreation, wild lands
and natural areas, and protected watersheds.
For those interested in the
history of the area, it is possible to travel on traces of the Old Town
Road on the east side of the forest. Built during the 1750s as a military
road connecting Fort Frederick with Fort Cumberland by order of Maryland
Governor Sharpe, the Old Town Road was surveyed by one of Maryland's
greatest frontiersmen, Colonel Thomas Cresap. Follow the road to Old Town,
the oldest settlement in Allegany County, settled by Colonel Cresap in
1740. “Point Lookout,” off of Old Town Road, is a site overlooking the
Potomac River Valley east. From this perch, Union soldiers tried to detect
Confederate movements in the valley during the Civil War. Earlier, 243
acres of this same land was owned by George Washington. In addition,
Banners Overlook, Logroll, Warrior Mountain, and No Name Lookout offer
spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. These areas are popular
during the fall color season and for viewing hawks during migration.
On Green Ridge Road looking
west toward Warrior Mountain, you can see “The Great Warrior Path”
which runs north and south, extending from the Great Lakes through the
Carolinas. The path was used by Native American war and hunting parties
for hundreds of years before European contact through the Colonial period.
There are over 27 miles of
hiking trails that trace narrow ridges and stream valleys in the forest.
One trail connects with the C&O Canal towpath, providing a 46 mile
circuit hike. While you are in the area, visit the C&O Canal National
Historical Park which adjoins the forest along the Potomac River. The Paw
Paw Tunnel, 3,080 feet in length, is located on the eastern edge of the
A new Green Ridge State
Forest Mountain Bike Trail features a challenging 11.6 mile bike loop in a
wilderness setting. “The Ridge,” as it is commonly referred to, is a
single track trail suitable for intermediate to advanced riders that winds
up and down the ridges and valleys of the forest. Riders will encounter
technical obstacles such as stream crossings, fallen trees, steep turns,
and sustained climbs. Four “easy-out” routes are incorporated into the
trail allowing riders to shorten their ride and return to the start/finish
point. Ask for a new Green Ridge State Forest mountain bike map and guide
at the forest’s office.
The Ridge Trail is located
in a vast 43,000 acre tract of hardwood forest and is marked with signs
that indicate a preferred direction of travel and the mileage in
descending order. Green Ridge State Forest is also an excellent venue for
guided canoe trips and hiking, and offers approximately 100 primitive
campsites throughout the forest. Hikers can also take advantage of four
new Adirondack-style shelters to be placed along scenic and remote
sections of a 24 mile backpacking trail.
Bond's Landing is the focal
point for boating and canoeing in the eastern part of Allegany County. A
boat ramp here provides easy access to the Potomac River, a waterway rich
in the history of Colonial and 19th century Maryland.
Green Ridge State Forest is
located in eastern Allegany County, about 22 miles east of Cumberland,
Exit 64 on Interstate 68.
Green Ridge State Forest
28700 Headquarters Dr, NE
Flintstone, MD 21530-9525