Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 39.14742°N / 79.57071°W
Additional Information Elevation: 3360 ft / 1024 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Backbone Mountain is the highest mountain in the state of Maryland. Most people who climb it are state highpointers. That notwithstanding, it is a nice easy hike with a fairly decent view at the top. Once you reach the trailhead as described in the "Getting There" section, follow the logging road for about 20 minutes, always noting that you follow the the orange blazes on trees. A few hundred yards into the hike, you will see a red sign pointing to the left-this is NOT the correct left-hand turn. After around 3/4 of a mile on the logging road, a footpath junctions to the left of the logging road. Follow this well-cairned path a short distance where it temporarily divides, the right path being grassy, and the left path being rocky. The two paths converge back together very shortly and shortly thereafter, you find yourself at the summit of Maryland's highest mountain. There is a sign commemorating this highpoint. Some of the trees to the east have been cut so that you have a decent view to the east. There is also a picnic table where you can rest after this not-so-strenuous 1 mile, 700 vertical foot climb. A bigs thanks to mvanhorne for 10-16-2011 update to trail/signage conditions.

Getting There

From I-68, get off at exit 14, take US 219 South. Once you pass the junction with US 50 at Redhouse, MD, continue 4.3 miles to the village of Silver Lake, West Virginia(yes, you're in West Virginia; not Maryland anymore). In Silver Lake, WV, State Route 24 junctions to the west. From the junction, continue following US 219 South for 1.1 miles. On the left side of the road you will see some trees with orange blazes. Also, the back of one of the highway signs is marked "MD HP" There is a green sign with white lettering on 219 and there are parking areas on both sides of the road. The cable across the logging road had been cut, but I do not recommend driving up this logging road because it is rough and probably not legal.

Red Tape

The summit and the area closeby is on private property owned by a coal company. Be sure to stay on the trail, do not litter or camp, and respect the landowner's rights so that we can continue to enjoy access to this mountain.

When To Climb

This mountain can be climbed any time of the year. If there is much snow in the winter, snowshoes might be handy.


The land on the West Virginia side is national forest, but the summit and its immediate surrounding area are owned by a coal company which allows access but not camping.

For nice camping areas, I would recommend checking out Blackwater Falls State Park,about 10 miles south into the state of West Virginia. There are many campsites, and many hiking trails. There are a total of 15 waterfalls in the park.

Mountain Conditions

Check the weather at Elkins, WV or Cumberland, MD to get an idea of what conditions will be like. Because you will be at a higher elevation on the mountain, it will be colder and windier than at either of these cities.

Miscellaneous Info

If you're going to go all the way out here to climb this mountain then you should stop and see the self proclaimed smallest church in the lower 48. Seats 12. It is right along 219 in Silver Lake, WV.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-11 of 11

Redwic - Aug 5, 2008 8:38 am - Hasn't voted

"MD HP" No More...

While I was here this weekend, I noticed no "MD HP" on any signs at/near the parking area off Highway 219. However, there is a small white sign stating "Maryland Highpoint" located high in a tree directly above the parking area.

mvanhorne - Oct 16, 2011 6:34 pm - Hasn't voted

Trail Updates

Was just up there today (10/16/2011) as #2 of 3 for the day (PA and WV also). There is a green sign with white lettering on 219 and there are parking areas on both sides of the road. The cable across the logging road had been cut, but still dont recommend driving up this logging road. A few hundred yards into the hike, you will see a red sign pointing to the left...this is NOT the left hand turn mentioned in the main description. About 0.5 miles in, there is a right hand turn in the road with orange spraypaint on a rock "HP" with an arrow showing the way. Where the left hand diversion is that is mentioned in the main post, there is a relatively good sized cairn there and from there to the summit there are numerous cairns along the way. Where the trail splits, going to the left also takes you to a WV/MD state line marker. Either the lefthand trail or the righthand trail takes you to a logging road with some very new signage pointing to the summit. At the summit there is a very conveniently placed shelf to set a camera for a timed photo in front of the sign. Seems to be an overall big improvement from earlier conditions.


technicolorNH - Oct 20, 2012 1:26 am - Hasn't voted

19 October 2012

Someone spray painted red HP letters on numerous trees on the path to the high point. It's now very easy to follow the trail and it's on a logging road almost the entire way. There is also a mailbox with a sign in notebook at the high point along with a metal park bench. The picture taking stand and picnic table are still there.

VoodooLounge13 - Jun 5, 2014 11:44 pm - Hasn't voted

USGS Marker?

Hello, I'm heading here tomorrow afternoon, and I'm wondering if anyone knows if there is one there, as I've read elsewhere that there doesn't appear to be on at the summit of Backbone. Thanks!


DSimm81 - Dec 28, 2021 9:04 am - Voted 7/10

Re: USGS Marker?

I visited that HP in Nov '21. I looked everywhere and couldn't find the USGS seal. There was a huge rock pile though, so I hope people weren't dumb enough to build it on top of the marker.

C Wright

C Wright - Jul 10, 2014 7:09 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Changes

There are new green and white signs along US 219 that say MD High Point. The trail has orange spray painted "HP" markings along the way. The elevation gain is 712 feet in 1.1 mile, a steady 12% grade up a rocky trail. There is alternate access from the south and east that's suitable for mountain bikes(park in the Fairfax Stone park in WV) and its a 5.7 mile ride up a logging road to the summit. This trail general follows the MD/WV state line.


silversummit - Oct 23, 2015 1:28 pm - Voted 10/10

Extremely good signage once on the trail

We saw only one sign along Rt. 219 and that was found when driving from the south but directions found on SP and elsewhere provided sufficient indication of the trailhead location. Yes, there are many new looking HP marker signs along the trail as well as spray painted HPs on the trees. The trail was a bit steep in a couple places but well-marked with the signs and cairns. We were the only people out there on a Wednesday but several had hiked up the day before as well as quite a few over the prior weekend. And the picnic table is no longer at the summit but the certificates and HP book can still be found!

wvamg - Feb 10, 2016 5:45 pm - Hasn't voted

Turn left at sign

2/7/16 Ignore the written directions and follow the signs/marked trees/red blazes to the top. We ignored the sign, as instructed by the directions, and ended up scrambling over rocks and trees until we reached the top. The whole time there was a raging debate about why there would be such a well-made sign if hikers weren't to follow it. This argument was bolstered by the lack of cairns. However, previous experiences in the Mon Nat'l Forest made us trust the written directions rather than signs. We got a good laugh when we descended using the very well-marked trail and the sign!

ShodRod85 - Jul 5, 2016 9:55 pm - Hasn't voted

4th of July HIke

I went up to the top on 7-3-16 and here is a pic of the split on the trail that is being debated on other posts. Stay the Left and you will be perfect. Also, please enjoy this pic of the green & white sign showing where the trailhead is.....I drove right by it and was looking hard for it....

James Bednar - Oct 7, 2019 11:35 am - Hasn't voted

My 17th highpoint visited.

My visit to the highest point in the great state of Maryland was in May 2009. This was my 17th highpoint visited (currently 29/50). Day of my visit was threatening rain, but I made the mad-dash to the summit since I did not know when my next trip to the area would be. I parked along the highway as close as possible to the entrance of a logging road. There should be a sign with letters "HP" attached to a tree. That is NOT the actual highpoint. You must follow the logging road/trail. There were orange "arrows" & "HP" painted on trees/rocks indicating the route to take. You should also come across an old stone border-marker stone, as well as, rock cairns. I remember that I turned left (up hill) at every "Y" I came across at trail intersections. Eventually made it to the top and at the actual highpoint. When you see a white historical sign with "Hoye-Crest", that is the actual highpoint. It started to rain heavily, so did not stay long. Think round-trip hike was 2 miles or so.

loonlaugh - Nov 16, 2020 4:19 pm - Hasn't voted

2/3 of trail is practically impassable.

Be warned! Lower 2/3 of the approach has just been logged. The trail is essentially gone and other portions to the side of trail are active logging operations. Last weekend was a very difficult slog through knee-deep mud and leaping across land gouged by large timber equipment. Upper third is as lovely as the photos and descriptions on this site show.

Viewing: 1-11 of 11



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

Allegheny MountainsMountains & Rocks
Mountains of MarylandMountains & Rocks
U.S. State HighpointsMountains & Rocks
50 Highest in MarylandMountains & Rocks