Monday, January 7, 2013

Snowshoeing at New Germany State Park

We haven't hiked a lot in Western Maryland.  The parks are just as far away as the National Forest lands in West Virginia and we've always been drawn there instead.  Horizontal Tread, WanderMindfully, and the two of us decided to explore New Germany State Park, near Grantsville, Maryland, on snowshoes.  It did not start out particularly well.  I couldn't find any maps online, so I figured we could stop by the park office and buy them once we got there.  The first woman we spoke to told us there were no maps to be had and that snowshoes were only allowed on a single one-mile loop (the concern being that snowshoes would destroy the groomed ski tracks).  I was a little taken aback, since that isn't what their website says and we had driven a long way.  We talked to a second woman there and finally figured out that there were actually more trails where snowshoes were ok.  Fortunately, it got better from there.

We finally got underway on the Hemlock Trail with a photocopied map.  The trail winds its way along a pretty ridge covered with stands of hemlock trees.  About a foot of snow covered the ground, providing a nice base for the snowshoes and sleds.  The trail eventually drops into a small valley and follows a little creek.  I was cold, so I kept zig-zagging up the hillside to warm up.  Nothing will get the heart rate up like breaking trail with snowshoes going up hill.

We had a pleasant lunch complete with hot chocolate at the bottom of the valley.  We saw a few skiers go by as we were near one of the groomed trails.  After lunch, we snowshoe-ed near the lake and up around the Ice House loop.  We spent a few very pleasant minutes warming up by the fire in the lodge at the end of our hike.  We had a very nice hike and the trails are pretty.  Typical of other Maryland State Parks that I've been to, the hiking is made up of very short loops connected by short stretches of road walking.  It wasn't crowded yesterday, but from what I understand, it can be quite crowded on weekends.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 A Hemlock grove up on the ridge.
 A Hemlock twig in the snow.
 I found this little burrow when I was tramping uphill to warm up.  My snowshoe track is on the right for size comparison.  The critter using the burrow had thrown pine cone bits outside the entrance.
 A small creek on the Hemlock trail.
There was extensive damage to the park from Hurricane Sandy.  These blowdowns were just one set of hundreds.  Much credit goes to the New Germany State Park trail crews for getting them cleared.
The lake at New Germany State Park.
 The Ice House Trail.
 Michael and Horizontal Tread pulling sleds.
The lovely fire in the lodge.


  1. Hello -

    I'm considering a snowshoe trip to New Germany in the next week or two and am curious about the amount and quality of snow. Was this trip recent? (The date says today, 1/7/2013) Any suggestions on trails, camping, etc?

  2. They had a little less than a foot of snow yesterday (1/6). We did the Hemlock, Gazebo, and Ice House Loop Trails, each of which are a little more than a mile. None of them are especially remote, but they were pretty. I don't believe that New Germany State Park allows camping this time of year (but check with the park as I could be mistaken).