Friday, June 3, 2016
We start the hike at Pen Mar County Park, at the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, near Cascade, Maryland. We meet up at 9:30 in the morning, take a bunch of "before" pictures at the Welcome-to-Maryland signs, and set out on our hike. The first day, we cover about 10 miles.
On Friday evening, we stop at one of the Appalachian Trail's overnight shelters, so you're welcome to sleep there for the evening. You can pitch your tent, or there's a shelter (a three-sided, roofed structure), a table, and a privy. There's not much water nearby, but our support cars will have many gallons of water, so you'll be able to cook, wash, and fill your water bottles for Saturday's trip.
Generally, we head into Smithsburg by car for dinner at a locally owned Italian restaurant.
9:30 am. Meet at Pen Mar; take photos at state line.
Noon. Have lunch at High Rock.
1:30 pm. Popsicles at Raven Rock Road.
4:30 pm. Arrive at shelter near Wolfsville Road.
5:00 pm. Support cars leave Wolfsville Road to take drivers back to their cars at Pen Mar.
How to get to Pen Mar County Park
GPS coordinates: N 39 42.972, W 077 30.437.
Take Interstate 795 off the beltway toward Reisterstown.
When 795 ends, pick up MD Rte 140 west toward Westminster.
Continue west on Rte 140 through Westminster, Taneytown, and Emmitsburg.
Just past Emmitsburg, the highway crosses the Pennsylvania border and becomes PA Rte 16.
Stay on 16 for 5 or 6 miles to Blue Ridge Summit, where you turn left on the Fort Ritchie Access Road.
Cross back into Maryland, and you'll reach the tiny town of Cascade.
Turn right on Pen Mar Road (officially MD Rte 550, but it may not be marked at the turn), and follow the road around a reservoir for less than a mile to Pen Mar Park.
The park itself is on the right; we usually park in a grassy parking area on your left.
Go to Frederick, then take US Highway 15 north, toward Gettysburg.
In Thurmont, exit on Maryland Route 550, heading west, toward Sabillasville.
Stay on this road thru Sabillasville, until it ends at Maryland Route 491, where you turn right.
Stay on that road for just a minute or two.
Before you reach the Pennsylvania border, you'll see a sign indicating that Pen Mar is to your left.
Take that left turn, and you'll arrive in the hamlet of Pen Mar.
The park is well marked, and will be to your right as you come into town.
There is a gated parking area to the right, but sometimes the attendant is not there to open the gate when we arrive. In that case, you can park on the grassy area under the trees opposite the entrance to the parking area.
How to get to the Friday night camp
GPS coordinates: N 39 37.693, W 077 33.544
Take Interstate 70 west from Frederick.
At exit 42, turn right onto Maryland Route 17.
Follow Maryland 17 North for several miles thru the Frederick County countryside.
You'll come to Wolfsville, which indicates you're getting close.
2 1/2 miles past Wolfsville, you'll see Loy Wolfe Road to your left, Garfield Road to your right, and the Washington County line straight ahead.
Continue straight, into Washington County.
The first opportunity to turn right, after entering Washington County, is a gravel driveway.
That's where you park your car.
Next to and parallel to the road, on the downhill side of the parking lot, is a blue-blazed trail that leads to the AT.
Follow that trail, and turn right when you get to the white-blazed AT, turn right.
It's only about 1/4 mile in to the shelter, which will be on your left.