Friday, September 17, 2021

We start the hike at Pen Mar County Park, at the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, near Cascade, Maryland. Park in the grass and dirt parking area across the street from the paved parking area. 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 the parking lot where the AT crosses Wolfsville Road. About a quarter-mile before the parking lot, there is an AT shelter below the trail and tent sites nearby. Just before the road, a blue-blazed trail leads up to the parking lot. You’re welcome to stay at the shelter or nearby. You can pitch your tent on one of the defined tent platforms, or there's a shelter (a three-sided, roofed structure), a table, and a privy. There is NOT a piped in water source, but if you want to camp here, be prepared to filter your water at a nearby spring, have several gallons in your car, or get water from a support vehicle or organizer if available, so you can make sure to fill your water bottles for Saturday's trip.

Many hikers head into Smithsburg by car for dinner at a locally owned restaurant or other nearby establishments. At a minimum, please observe local rules about masking, etc. to be as safe as possible during the ongoing pandemic. Many of the towns and businesses we will be interacting with are not well vaccinated.

Daily schedule:

9:30 am. Meet at Pen Mar; take photos at state line.
Noon. Bring along your own lunch and snacks to High Rock.
1:30 pm. Popsicles at Raven Rock Road.
4:30 pm. Arrive at shelter near Wolfsville Road.
5:00 pm. Carpool vehicles 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.

From Baltimore:
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.

From Washington:
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 You might want to park in the grassy area anyway to make sure your car does not get locked into the park in the evening   

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.



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