Backbone Mountain

Rear View


4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!



Carl wrote a note to the usual suspects calling for a trail ride.  I wasn't 100% sure I could make it, but I offered up Backbone Mountain as a possible destination.  I called the state forest office that had jurisdiction and spoke to Sue, who told me that we could go there, that it was open, did not require the DNR Off Road sticker, and that we could use saws to clear fallen dead wood.  Soon we had a small group signed up for the ride.


We got up early and hit the Scenic Lookout near Frederic, MD where we found Carl Smith and the Clasings had arrived on time. Hector didn't call to cancel but by 8am we figured he was a no-show. We hit the road for our next stop - the Sideling Hill Exhibition Area.

Sideling Hill
Jay's Rubicon at Sideling Hill
The Gang at Sideling Hill

We made our stop and Sideling Hill on time and hit the rest rooms. The kids found a lady bug, endowed it with a persona, and got really upset when it flew away without them.


Our next stop was to get gas in Keyser.  

Getting Gas in Keyser

Then a quick little detour into Keyser before I realized that we wanted Route 135 to get us to the trail.  We doubled back and got on the right road to the trail.  Back on the road we hoofed it and made it to the trail head for Backbone Mt by 10:40. We aired down and disconnected in a wide spot on the road just before the Savage River Reservoir, then jumped off the road and onto the trail.

Jay Airing Down

Updated info 6/29/04:  Near the spot where we went down to the railroad grade is Hitchcock Tunnel and near that, Strecker, a switch location.  I found this article on the web and archived it against loss:

Mountain Subdivision - 17 Mile Grade


Right away it was clear that no one had been up the trail since perhaps the fall. It was strew with fallen dead wood that kept us busy most of the day, clearing and avoiding. It made for a nice way to spend the day in the woods and I heard no complaints.

Rear View

The ground was interesting - the leaves looked dry and dusty. But underneath them, the ground was very wet and in many places muddy. This made the going interesting as for most of the trip we drove on a very narrow shelf road that features a steep and long drop to the right. 

Nice Hillside
Ted on the Edge

For the most part you'd have to make a huge mistake or be totally snoozing, but if you went off the edge, you'd end up far below in short order.

Temporary Trail Barrier


We moved a couple very large fallen trees out of the trail - somewhat surprising that we could even drag them aside they were so large, but it kept us moving forward.

Kid Wheeling

During our stops, the boys did some wheeling of their own.  These little Jeeps are locked front and rear, have 2WD (high range) and 4WD (low range) and will climb a 45-degree hill.  They also roll over pretty easily!

Kid Wheeling

Jay's "TJ" is a nice Khaki Rubicon, which came out of the woods with a nice WV Pinstriped suit. I think a quick wax will take it back to factory finish.


The wheeling was mild - there were really only a couple places where 4WD was necessary although we stayed in 4LO because of the need to travel slow.  We took an old side trail that has not been traveled much and turned on a switchback to head up the side of the mountain.  The trail got more and more narrow as we went up the hill.  Eventually, I came to a spot where we had to stop.  There was some minor junk that needed clearing, and a large tree that blocked further progress.  Given that we were on a narrow, steep hill, and moving the tree would have required some pretty serious tugging, we opted not to chance an error that would have spoiled the afternoon.  We backed all the way down to the switchback and continued on our way.

JeepJeepSmall dead wood

We made a stop so everybody could climb the side hill and the large rock above.  As my kids are a little too small yet, I stayed below and watched them play with their Jeeps.

The Kids on the HillCarlCarl

We stopped for lunch at one of the large fallen trees we cleared. It was about 200 years old judging from the rings. It appeared to have been very healthy, but got knocked over in a storm.

Tree Work

We continued on to where we had done some clean-up on our last trip and found our work was holding up.  But just beyond that point we found more large fallen wood and soon had a project clearing it out of the way.  This involved strapping and pulling the fallen log.  We had to do some cutting to make it manageable.

Further up the trail we came to a nice spot for camping.  Carl likes to pose his Jeep on the edge.  I hope the ground does not give out one day!

Nice CampsiteCarlNice Campsite

Despite calling the ranger ahead of time, and despite a detailed discussion of our plans, we found gates closed which forced us to work our route and hunt to find a way out that didn't force us to backtrack. I shall call the office again and seek some insight into this.  Again we came to a large fallen tree that blocked the trail.  We had to cut it into three or four pieces with our trusty hand saws before I could pull the largest piece out of the way.


Backbone Mt. GPS Track Map


It was a beautiful day to be in the woods - and the views we caught here were some of the best. On the way home we hit the Jeep wash and a Chinese restaurant. It was a long ride but worth every minute of it!

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GPS Waypoint Data

Backbone Mountain Waypoint List

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