Potomac State Forest
Potomac State Forest in Western Maryland is home to an array of 3,000 foot mountains. It is located in Garrett County, which houses all of the Maryland mountains that exceed 3,000 feet.
, (the highpoint of Maryland) is only 15 minutes away. Backbone, however, is not enough hiking for a normal day, and Potomac State Forest offers other hiking and scenic destinations in the same vicinity.
Visit the State Forest website:
Potomac State Forest
If you have just hiked Backbone Mountain, or been hiking in Potomac State Forest, then Eagle Rock is a nice way to end your day of hiking. It is not the steepest mountain in Potomac State Forest, and not nearly the longest hike, but it is one of the more interesting sights. The top is all sand and white and peach colored rock. You can climb up boulders and survey the area, while the actual summit offers a nice view of the surrounding peaks.
From I-68, take 219 South in Western Maryland, to Oakland, and take 135 East for 1 mile, to 560 South. Go 3 miles south to Bethlehem Road, and drive about a mile, until you see Eagle Rock Road on your left. If you wish to take the short route, take Eagle Rock Road to the end, and you have a 100 foot, ¼ mile hike to the summit area. Otherwise, you can choose to walk up the road, which would result in about 5 miles of round trip hiking, and about 700 feet in elevation gain. The dirt trail goes for about ¼ mile until you reach a sandy, rocky area. You walk around, on the rocks, and then climb up the rocky pitch to get to the summit area. The boulders are steep and sandy, so be careful on the climb. At the top, you find a rock a little set back, and take a short trail to the rock, and climb to the top, where you will take in nice views in all directions. After you bag the summit, you can continue on the dirt trail, beyond the summit, and hike down the mountain a little bit, to explore the areas below.
Semi-primitive camping is available in the forest year-round, although roads are not maintained in the winter. Camper self-registration stations are located at the entrance to each camping area. Maximum stay at any site is two weeks and group size cannot exceed six people except at designated group sites. The group sites hold a maximum of 20 people and can be reserved by calling the forest office. The group sites have sanitation facilities but no potable water. There are three campsite areas in the forest that provide roadside camping opportunities as follows: Laurel Run Area - five roadside campsites, one lean-to; Wallman Area - four roadside campsites, one lean-to and one group campsite and Lost Land Run Area - six roadside campsites, one lean-to and one group campsite. Backpack camping is also allowed throughout Potomac State Forest by permit via self-registration or by calling the forest office. The Piney Mt. and Snaggy Mt. areas of nearby Garrett State Forest also offer camping opportunities. Camping is not allowed within 200 feet of any trail or stream.
Pets without a leash are permitted in all areas of the forest but must be under control at all times.
This information is taken from the Potomac State Forest Homepage
no permits required
If you are hiking in Potomac State Forest, I suggest hiking the gravel road off of North Hill road. It is a 5 mile, round trip hike, and the trailhead is just a few miles passed the road to Eagle Rock. Just follow Bethleham Road and follow signs to the visitors center. Pass the visitors center, and take a right on North Hill road. You will see a trail/gravel road on the left. It takes you deep into the forest, onto a pleasant meadow at 3100' of elevation, after 600' of elevation gain.
The summit of Eagle Rock is quite interesting, but empty beer cans have found their way to the area. Please help clean up the area if you get the chance, and do not leave any trace of yourself on top.