Sunday, October 20, 2013

Outer Loop Trail, Savage River Lodge

I should be getting up right about now, my fourth morning on the trail on my backpacking trip to "Virginia's Triple Crown," but instead, I am up early at home monitoring our project at work.  Ah well, some day I shall be retired and worrying about work stuff will be someone elses responsibility.  Right now, I will just feel grateful to have a job, and I will write about hiking instead of doing it.

After lunch a week ago, I decided to go for a third hike in the Savage River Lodge area.  For our morning hike, it had stopped raining and I thought that the weather was finally turning.  How wrong could I be!  When we left the restaurant at the lodge after lunch, it was raining steadily.  But I had come here to get in some hiking, and hike I would!  I put on my rain jacket and pants, shouldered my pack, and started out.  This time, I would be doing the longest trail in the area, the Outer Loop Trail.  Adding in the distance to get to the trail by starting out on Bodie's Trail near our cabin and ending back at our cabin, it should be just over four miles long.  Given that four miles is my minimum distance to count a new hike, I could then add Savage River to my list of new hikes, and Maryland to my list of states hiked in.

Let's start with the elevation profile.  A little bit of this hike covered distance I had returned over on my first hike the day before.  This would be the initial downhill portion on the elevation profile: 
To begin with, after leaving the road our cabin was on, I started back on the green blazed Bodie's trail.  If you look at the map posted on the account of my first hike (the orange blazed trail), this hike (including the beginning section on Bodie's trail) will be the one with track marked in red.
From there, I got on the red blazed Outer Loop Trail, which was very easy to follow and very well marked for about 95% of the distance.  I'll talk about the other 5% later.  This was the first trail that I hiked on at Savage River with many nice encounters with streams.  I think this one is called Mud Lick Stream.
Here is another view of the same stream a little later on.
I also liked this partridge berry on the ground near this stream.
You can see one of the red blazes of the trail here, and see how it easy it is to follow.
After crossing the road (there is a parking spot here for the state forest where you can leave a car and jump on the trail), I passed one of the few nice open areas, most of this trail being in thick forest:
From here, things got dicey for a while.  The trail kind of disappeared in thick undergrowth.  At this point, it was pouring, and the rain seemed to soak through my rain jacket, which is pretty old and probably needs to be water repellent treated or replaced.  I was completely soaked, and pushing through undergrowth, guessing where the trail was.  I even retraced my steps at the point shown below, as the "trail" was only about 18 inches wide at this point and climbed steeply over this stream.
But it was also at this point that I saw a faded red blaze, so I kept going, pushing through even more thick undergrowth.  Then suddenly, after less than a quarter mile, the trail opened up and there were plentiful red blazes again.  It remained that way for the rest of the way back.  Because it continued to pour and I was soaked, I shortcut about a third of a mile or so by taking the gray blazed trail (I forget its name) back to the cabin.  But I still got just over four miles in, and thus can check off another new hike this year, and add the great state of Maryland, my mother's birth state, to my list of states hiked in!

If someone wanted to come into this area for a day hike, I would drive in and park at the little state forest parking lot.  Then, I would head to the left and cross the road, picking up the red trail in the opposite direction that I hiked it (hiking the loop clockwise).  Follow the red blazes, and if you want, when you get to the green-blazed Bodie's trail, take this trail a short distance to the Savage River Lodge.  Have a nice lunch or a drink, then reverse your track back up Bodie's trail the red-blazed Outer Loop Trail, turning to the right to continue in a clockwise direction.  This will take you back to your car, with about a quarter mile of it being overgrown and difficult to follow (unless I just somehow got off the real trail for a little while - maybe coming back from that direction it is obvious, especially if it is not pouring).

This trail would also be great for cross country skiing , although that one overgrown area would be rough.  It is a beautiful little hike, with lots of interesting things along the way.  I would guess you might see wildlife (wear orange in deer hunting season) if it were not pouring rain.


  1. I sure live in a beautiful area. I need to get out there and see this in person. : )

  2. And I very much look forward to reading about your explorations.