Green Ridge State Park

Southern ORV Trail Entrance

7/7/01 and 7/15/01

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

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!


Department of Natural Resources Green Ridge State Park Official Site

Green Ridge State Park Official Trail Maps | Composite of all maps showing OHV area only - (Online Map went "missing")

Topo Map | Waypoints

Lame Excuse:  Some of the photos made on this trip turned out to be on an old roll of PhotoWorks film, and came back from processing in pretty bad shape.  Apparently the film was so out of date that the images were badly underexposed and very grainy.  The negatives are almost blank so it is amazing that there is an image at all.  But they are here for the record they provide...


Continuing with the exploration of Maryland Department of Natural Resources ORV Trails, I loaded the family into the Jeep.  As the general consensus is that these trails are little more than forest roads, I decided going solo (no companion vehicle) would not be risky (at least beyond any risk that I NORMALLY take).  This proved to be a valid assumption but as always, I was prepared for just about anything.

Sideling Hill Exhibit Center
View from Exhibit Center

We drove out Route 68 to Sideling Hill.  There, we stopped at the Exhibit Center to take a break and climb the steps to the observation deck where visitors can view the cut made into the hill for the road construction.  We had lunch under one of the little trees and enjoyed the view of the valley to the south-east.

After lunch, we loaded up and hit the road down to Green Ridge State Park Headquarters where I picked up a sketch map from the bulletin board area outside the office.  Back on the road and down two exits to one of probably several entrances to the park.  The road instantly goes from pavement to gray stone.

Entrance to Pic Lic Rd
Entrance to Pic Lic Rd

We drove along turning right onto Pic Lic Road, then followed it to the end.  There are primitive campsites along the road on both sides.  There are some pretty good views, but no open trails.  It turns out that aside from the nice ride, we wasted time that we could have used later to complete the east side of the ORV trail loop that we left unexplored.

Intersection of Pic Lic and Williams
Intersection of Pic Lic and Williams

At the end of Pic Lic Road we went left onto pavement at Williams Road.  We went down Black Sulfur Spring to Wallizer Rd (George Road on USGS maps).  After a bit we came to a group camping area (G-1) set off the road a bit.  The porta-john was a welcome, if not exactly fresh, sight...  Off to one side was a well defined two-track trail leading up a hill.  I walked it off with my handheld CB (so the kids would not get nervous) and found it passable.  

Group Area 1

So we climbed that hill to the end of the trail.  It just dead-ends near the top of the hill.  It's tight with one section where a full-sized truck would have trouble fitting through.  It was fun but very short.  It turned out to be the only place on this trip that I would need 4-Wheel Drive...

Ted at Scenic Outlook

Scenic Outlook with JeepScenic OutlookScenic OutlookScenic Outlook with kidsScenic Outlook with TedTom and Ted at Scenic OutlookScenic Outlook

At the end of Wallizer (George) Rd, we connected to Green Ridge Rd and followed it for a while.  It came to an spot where you could park and take in the view.  There was a small meadow with a fence, and a nice view of the ridge to the west.  We stopped and took a break.  The kids got out and stretched, played with their toys in the sand and had something to drink.  I was beginning to think that this "ORV trail" was going to turn out like the Garrett State Park trail, quite disappointing overall.  But since we were out here, it didn't make sense to give up until we had at least looked around some.  And it was a nice day so what the hey...?  I took some pictures of the kids and the view and then we got underway.

Southern ORV Trail EntranceSouthern ORV Trail Entrance

We turned onto Kirk Road, choosing to head east into the park and try to find "the trail".  The road looked promising, descending down into the woods and getting rougher than anything yet seen (on this outing).  We went around a couple bends and came to - ta da!  East Valley Road with a sign saying "ORV Trail PERMIT REQUIRED"!  Could this be...?

Department of Natural Resources Permit
Have Sticker, will "Wheel"...

Intersection of Kirk and East Valley Rd.

Well, yes, it's the trail.  But....  To be fair, it's beautiful country.  Anyone driving a 2-wheel drive vehicle on here would probably get some funny looks.  They might also drag their bumper a few times.  They might even spin wheels here and there.  But they will probably get through without much trouble too...  We made the best of it and rode along enjoying the scenery.  We came upon a group of ATV's and spoke to them about the trail.  They agreed that it was not real challenging and encouraged us to continue north a ways where it "gets a little bit more rough".  We did just that and found that the trail was a little bit more rocky but still I had not engaged 4-wheel drive...

Break TimeBreak Time Beverage

Near the end of the west loop, we stopped for a break and a stretch.  There are a couple trail spurs that branch off that beg to be explored another day.  We rehydrated and continued.

Exit from East Valley Road
East Valley Road Exit

We made our exit from the trail at the northern-most point since Maria had had enough and it was getting late.  We got back on Route 68 and drove into Hancock where we stopped at the Park and Dine Restaurant, washed the Jeep across the street, stopped at Wal*Mart in Frederick, and went home.

The trail was "OK" - a nice mild Sunday Drive for anyone who wants to take someone out who perhaps has not been "off-road" before.  But if you are looking for a fix for your 4-WD-jonesing, this will not be the cure.  In fact, you will be so hungry for some action that the power lines that you cross under will be calling your name...  We did NOT go on them even though by the time we saw them, I was sorely tempted...


Sideling HillTom & TedTom & TedTom & Ted

Not content with missing half of the trail loop, I went back out to see the rest.  We could not resist making another stop at Sideling Hill for lunch and a walk up the steps and over the bridge that crosses the highway.

Once back on the road and into the forest, I avoided tramping around the roads I took the previous week and headed straight for the exit from the ORV trail that I located last week (Waypoint 128).  But when I got there I once again screwed myself by thinking that the unexplored eastern portion of the ORV loop had more to offer than the portion I had already hit.  But ignorance is bliss so we went along hoping to find "the trail"...  We found a great lookout point that we stopped and checked out.  It was all I could do to keep the kids from falling off...

Then we went down Stafford Trail to Old Town Road.  This looked promising as before but turned out to be unchallenging, but pretty.  When we reached Old Town Road, we continued southwest and then turned northwest up Mertens Avenue until we got to the outlook at the intersection with Stafford Road.  Tomi was sleeping so Teddy and I got out and checked out the view. 

''This land is all yours...''

I may live to regret it but in one of the wistful moments I swept my hand out and told Teddy that "all that land is yours", meaning that since it's public land holdings, that he too, can claim it as his own, along with everyone else.   He expressed a need to visit the rest room (I guess kids see right through the adults) and as luck would have it, there was a porta-john in the Group 7 camp area that met our respective needs.

After that we went up Stafford Road to the power lines and stopped to marvel at the impressive drop to the southeast and the less imposing but nonetheless awesome drop to the northwest.  Once again, the trail descending on the northwest called to me but I remain as resolute about taking it since it is not legal and in any case looks very treacherous.

We continued on Stafford Road and back-tracked our way all the way to the exit from the ORV Trail (WP 128) where several groups of ATV-riders were loading and unloading.  I stopped and asked one group where the trails were.  They told me that any side-trail is legal for 4x4's.   I found this a little surprising because they are all marked with little "No ATV" or "No Motorcycle" stakes, using the universal slashed red circle over the prohibited vehicle.  None are marked "No Jeep" so this gets me to wondering.

But rather than take the word of a self-admitted first-timer, I hauled all the way back to the Ranger Office and asked.  Penny, the person staffing the station, told me that yes, if it "looks like a road" and is not marked, or not marked to prohibit a Jeep (4x4), then it is OK.  Sheesh.  She also told me that 4x4's do not need the DNR permit and sticker.  I don't know about that.  And the trails with the stakes prohibiting certain vehicles also would be hard to enter past the stake in many cases.  So Penny gives me info that is music to my ears but I remain skeptical.  

Update:  On subsequent visits to the park, I spoke with Penny again and she denied telling me this, and indicated that all trails so marked (No ATV's or No Motorcycles) are off limits to everyone...  I guess the safe thing to do is to stay off of them.

Update:  10/22/03  The current Green Ridge web site clarifies that registered vehicles (such as Jeeps and other 4x4's) are not required to have DNR stickers.

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