A Forest Full of Ferns: Gambrill State Park

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On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend Tod and I decided to hike the yellow trail in Gambrill State Park. The park is located in Western Maryland off of I70.  We began at the first parking lot and headed North but when we got to the spot where we had to choose which way to go on the loop we took the wrong trail and ended up doing the Southern loop. Imagine our surprise when we ended up back at the car after a couple miles when we thought we were going on a 7 mile hike!

Luckily, we didn’t let this discourage us. We tried again and finally got on the right trail. It goes along the road for quite a ways and is maintained by a mountain biker club so there were a few bikers on the trail. The forest was really beautiful and covered with a blanket of ferns. The paths seemed a bit more level than Sugar Loaf and Cactoctin and for much of the trail it was clear of rocks or roots. That being said, there were also lots of area that were very rocky.

We ended up also doing the northern-most loop of the trail. Both Tod and I think that this is the best part. It had fewer people and was serene and beautiful. Just be careful! When you get to the powerlines, you  need to turn left and follow them a little ways to pick up the trail again. My only complaint is that there were not too many obvious places to pull off of the trail for a quick bite to eat. If you find a big rock, take it!

Overall, the length our hike was about 9 miles (according to my hiking/gps app.) The length of the hike was harder than the ruggedness of the trail. I found it easier than Sugar Loaf, but hopefully that is because I’m in better shape. 🙂


-There are a lot of parking spaces near the Nature Center at the top of the hill. The Nature Center also has cold drinks and there is a restroom nearby.

-Go early in the morning, before many bikers get there.

-Although this is a state park, we didn’t see anyplace to pay for admission. We have a yearly pass but it looks like it is possible to get in without one.

This entry was posted in Maple's Jots on Jaunts and tagged by Maple. Bookmark the permalink.

About Maple

I'm a 50+ year-old woman in a 60+ year-old body with the hiking ambition of a 30+ year-old. Professionally, I work in higher education administration. In my free time I play the flute and paint with watercolors (or try to). My Appalachian Trail name is Maple. Why? Maples are my favorite trees. :-)

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