Total Mileage: 12.75 miles
Total Mileage: 12.75 miles
Low Point: Savage River - 1340 ft
High Point: Meadow Mountain Overlook - 2959 ft
Time: 5 hours (times include trailhead and equipment transitions)
Back to Trip Index
Day 1 Trail Maps
Start Savage River Campground
Starting in the fog of the Savage River feet from the 1989 World Whitewater Championship village seems a fitting place to start as it was a launching point for a new generation of adventure sports in Garrett County. Wetting my feet in the Savage River connects me to the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay watershed and the drainage east of the Eastern Continental Divide. Today's trip will take me to the top headwaters of the Savage via Monroe Run and to the parting point of East and West at the crest of Meadow Mountain. From the point of departure I can see the Big Savage Mountain Hiking Trail terminus where I will hopefully be 7 days from now. And the adventure begins. Steep uphill climb on Savage River Road takes me to the top of the dam and the next phase of the trip.
Paddling Savage River Reservoir
One of my favorite places for solitude in the county. An electric motor only lake with no development, I had the lake mostly to myself with just 3 other boats visible throughout the trip. A gentle wind was blowing on the nose but it was easy to tuck into the eastern/windward shore next to rock outcroppings and one of the wildest areas of the Savage River State Forest, the largest in the state. Humming birds were the first to visit, then a family of 7 Hooded Mergansers, and finally sending me on my way was a fly-over by the resident Bald Eagle - a true treat! The trip ended too quickly with little time to linger as the forest and tumbling tributaries call out. Due to the extremely wet summer the lake pool was full so I was able to paddle easily right to edge of Big Run State Park campground. NOTE: Would be great to have boat racks at either end of this segment that trail users and/or outfitters could lock their boats too when going to the next section of trail.
Up and Over the Continental Divide: Monroe Run and Meadow Mtn
This is the place water shoes were designed for. 17 crossings of Monroe Run as this historic CCC built roadbed ascends the steep sided valley. Hand-laid stone abutments are still visible at each crossing. Native Brook Trout scamper upstream as I waded calf deep in some of the deeper crossings. Rumors that the stinging nettles had been mowed on this trail were painfully false but the beauty and coolness of mountain air conditioning made it well worth the effort. DNR has done a good job removing the large trees from across the trail. Most of this trail is a gradual climb along a babbling brook until you get to the last half mile of steep switchbacks that take you to New Germany Road.
The climb from the Monroe Run parking lot on New Germany and then Frank Brenneman Road was steep and hot with little shade, probably the toughest part of the day. Arriving at the Meadow Mountain Trail marked the top of the Eastern Continental Divide but not the summit of the day which is about 150' higher at Meadow Mountain Overlook. Construction traffic for the new section of Meadow Mountain Trail to 495 has made this once grassy section of trail a muddy mess. Plans to improve drainage and add gravel to this section cannot come soon enough. The overlook where the first State Forest fire tower was once located was spectacular today with views to Big Savage Mountain and beyond more than 20 miles into West Virginia. As I turned to start my descent I realized that I would be going downhill for the next 3 days as I follow water down the western side of the Divide to my low elevation (1332 ft) at Confluence, PA. The walk down the newly constructed Overlook Trail was like coming home as I have hiked the route more than 15 times in the short year with Garrett Trails. While the tread is not what we had hoped and some wet areas and mud are present this section of trail is still one of the nicest hikes in the region. Almost too quickly my first day on the trail comes to a close and while my joints and muscles are ready to do more sleep is calling. 12.75 miles complete ~ 110 miles and 6 days more to go.