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Hike the Big Savage Mountain Trail (Southern Terminus to High Rock)

Swanton, Maryland



11 miles

Elevation Gain

1500 ft

Route Type



Added by Stephen Perrine

Big Savage Mountain (elevation 2,986 ft.) is arguably the most impressive 'Wildland' in Maryland. Traversing this beautiful and well-managed natural resource is the Big Savage Mountain Hiking Trail, with its southern terminus located at the site of the 1989 World Whitewater Championships. Approximately 5.5 miles into the trail, hikers will arrive at the mountain's highest point (known as High Rock), which features a fire tower providing an unobstructed panoramic view of Maryland's rugged western panhandle.

This is not a casual hike; it is one which should be taken taken seriously. However, it will be an enjoyable experience for anyone with the resolve to face the early 1,500 ft. climb in elevation, as well the ascent of a slightly dodgy (but still structurally sound) mid-20th century fire tower.  

The trail's southern terminus provides ample parking, along with car camping sites, just before the trailhead. Those who wish to break up the 11 miles over two days may camp at a primitive site (GPS=39°32'38.2"N 79°05'32.8"W) along the trail, located just before the fire tower.

The trail itself features several natural barriers and dense vegetation at times, but it is clearly marked with white blazes. There is a fairly reliable water source located on the left-hand side of the trail approximately 4 miles into the hike (GPS=39°32'07.6"N 79°06'09.2"W).

A clearly visible access road will cross the trail at just under 5 miles. Hang a sharp left at the junction, and follow the access road directly to High Rock. Take a moment to gather yourself upon arrival, and then start up the tower... the wind is almost certain to be howling so hang on tightly!

An annotated map is available here

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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