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Appalachian Trail Across Maryland Series #3 – Dahlgren Backpacker Campground to Bear Spring Cabin 10 Miles/Hard

Old South Mountain Inn

One in a series of 9 hikes on the Appalachian Trail across Maryland. An out and back hike of a total of 10 miles, heading south from Old National Pike. Park at the Old South Mountain Inn that has been in use for over 250 years. This inn is one of the oldest public houses along the AT, and stakes claim of visits by past Presidents.

The trail passes Dahlgren Backpackers Campground, Reno Monument, and Lambs Knoll to White Rocks Overlook. An optional loop heads to Bear Spring Cabin. The total elevation gain of over 2500 feet with equal ascent heading out, and descent returning on the white blazed trail. The hike takes approximately 5 hours at a steady pace of 2.5 mph.

DIRECTIONS TO HIKE SITE:  Take I-70 West from Baltimore to Exit 49 and take Route 40 South towards Middletown. Continue through Middletown and the Old South Mountain Inn will be on your left on the top of a hill. Approx. 11 miles from I-70.

ADDRESS: Old South Mountain Inn, 6132 Old National Pike, Boonesboro, Maryland 21713.

HIKE DESCRIPTION: Beginning at the parking lot of Old South Mountain Inn, head south on the white-blazed trail. Within a half-mile you will reach Dahlgren Backpacker’s Campground. Water and restrooms are available here.

Continuing south, you will begin to ascend towards White Rocks Overlook. The trail will cross Reno Monument Road / Lambs Knoll Road and continue on the white marked trail towards the right.

Continue to ascend for approximately four miles before reaching White Rocks Overlook. At this point, you can chose to lunch here and return by the same way you came to the parking lot.

Optional loop to Bear Spring Cabin: This blue blazed trail descends into a small valley and ends at Bear Spring Cabin. With a fresh mountain water spring close by, this remote and rustic cabin is available to rent through Potomac Appalachian Trail Club ‘PATC’.

The return is a long ascent and finishing with a short 2/10 of a mile steep and roughly graded trail to return to the White Rocks Overlook. Total distance just under 10 miles, with the outbound ascending, and the return descending.

Bring plenty of water with you, in particular on hot days as there is plenty of ascent on this hike. Hiking poles are helpful, but not essential.

COOKIES FOR THE HIKE: Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

COMMENTARY: Indulge me while I borrow some photos of scenery taken on this hike when we hiked it in May, 2011. In the beginning of May, Mountain Laurels bloom profusely along the trail, and on occasion a Ladies Slipper sneaks up through the rocky trail to show their elegance and grace.

For those that have been following my journey in preparation for the Inca Trail, which I will be hiking in May, 2012, I am SO PLEASED to share that my knee is fully healed ! After blowing it out from a fall on a hike in the first week of January, I’ve been nursing it and going to physical therapy to get it back to be trek ready.

This hike in particular is a challenging one for me as the outbound is going up-up-up with no end in sight, then you get to go down to Bear Spring Cabin. Which in itself is absolutely charming and remote. It’s practically a secret cabin that no one knows about. In this particular trip, we were fortunate that we were with a PATC representative who had the key, so we were able to enter the cabin for the first time.

After a quick respite, you then realize that all that down you did to get to the cabin has big-time payback. Now to go up-up-up again, with a steep and rough trail. The last 2/10’s of a mile is on a significant grade. The past two times that I did this hike, I’m sure I must have stopped at least 10 times to catch my breath. It was my personal goal that there was no way I was going to stop this time on my way up. When I started running into trouble, I just slowed down my pace to a turtle’s crawl and put one foot in front another.

Before I knew it I made it to White Rocks Overlook and was able to finally take a deep breath.


My Delorme PN-60 Map

AT Maryland Series #3 – Dahlgren Camp to Bear Spring Cabin at EveryTrail

14 replies »

    • Aren’t they cool Jura? There were only 2 along the trail, and as the group flies on these hikes, it’s hard for me to stop and get a shot of anything. Saw a dog on the trail today that looked similar to yours, but I didn’t get a chance to speak with the owner. 😦

  1. Near my neck of the woods! We have some beautiful weather coming up — high 70s all week. Spring is coming, soon the redbuds and dogwoods will be poking through the new greenery. Will need to check out the Old South next time I’m in MD. Very pretty flower shots!

  2. When I am 20 or something I want to go fully across the whole appalachian trail and I think it would be much easier of a bicycle, it would quicker and easier to lug around my equipment. Is it easier than hiking it and are you allowed the bike the appalachian trail?

    • What a wonderful ambition, and I’m sure you’ll be able to accomplish the AT. Only foot traffic is allowed on the Appalachian Trail, no horses (boo hoo). Some people do sections of the trail by state and accomplish hiking the whole trail over several years. To hike it all at one shot, plan for many months on the trail and starting about March from the south, arriving in the Maine before the really cold weather sets in. Good luck!

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