Hiking Backbone Mountain

At long last, I’ve been able to cross off an item on my bucket list–hiking the trail leading to the summit of Backbone Mountain in Garrett County, Maryland. I described Backbone Mountain in my newest book, PLOWED OVER. I’ve driven down the mountain and across its long ridge, but I have never climbed it.

Yesterday, for the first time in a while, the dreary weather cleared from Western Maryland. The sun was bright, the clouds were sparse, the temperature was cool–the perfect combo for some much-needed outdoor exercise.

I got a lot more exercise than I bargained for.

The trail begins close to Silver Lake in West Virginia. My husband (Ron) and I drove forty-five minutes from our home in Swanton, found the trailhead off of Route 219-S, and embarked on the one-mile trail to Hoyes Crest, the highest point in Maryland. The trail is aptly-named Maryland High Point Trail.

Trailhead Sign on Route 219-S, West Virginia


The trail was dry and not nearly as steep as I expected. I can do this, no problem! Right?

The beginning of the trail. I’m feeling quite optimistic and perky.

The trail, which is an old logging road, soon became wet and sloppy The torrents of rain from the last week drained down the trail. The trail got rocky and steep.

Ron leads the way up the messy trail.


Ron and I carried on. We were soon huffing and puffing and taking short breaks. Ron asked if I wanted to turn around. No way! I took a break at the first directional sign. We passed two women descending the mountain. They were properly dressed and equipped for hiking–walking sticks, hiking boots, hats, and backpacks.

“Are we close to the top?” I asked.

They smiled and answered “Ish.”

The second directional marker. I’m losing my perk, but still optimistic after my conversation with the college-age hikers.

We got to another directional marker and soon encountered a group of college students, also descending the mountain.

“Are we getting close?” I asked, thinking about how much my glutes were killing me.

“Five minutes,” one of them said.

I was temporarily heartened, forgetting that the answer had come from a man in his twenties. I am Medicare-aged.

Twenty minutes later we reached the summit. The hike was so worth it. We were treated to beautiful views of both Maryland and West Virginia.

View of Maryland from Hoyes Crest


View of West Virginia from Hoyes Crest

There is a picnic area at the summit. The next time I make this climb, I’ll be sure to bring a picnic chest. Just kidding. We opened a mailbox and found a book inviting us to sign in. There are pages and pages of signatures.

The mailbox and elevation


The book of hikers’ signatures, including our own. 


Ron and I had ineptly taken selfies during the hike. The result was a lot of laughs and ridiculous  photographs. Two hikers joined us at the summit. One kindly took our picture. Note the man-made stone cairn standing next to us. I gingerly added my little rock, half-expecting the cairn to collapse like Jenga structure.


Ta-Da!! We did it!

As we descended Backbone Mountain, we took a short side-trip to visit the Maryland/West Virginia state boundary marker. We had to climb over some boulders to do so. My glutes reminded me to take some Advil as soon as I got home.

The Maryland/West Virginia state boundary marker

We descended the mountain without mishap. On the way home, Ron and I stopped at a small ice cream store on Route 219-N. We celebrated our accomplishment with a hot-fudge sundae. That sundae worked better than any Advil I’ve ever taken.

I revised my bucket list to add another hike up Backbone Mountain to view the glorious fall colors of Garrett County. I might add joining the High Pointers Club to the list. https://highpointers.org/

Check out the information provided by Garrett Trails about the High Point Trail. http://www.garretttrails.org/hoyes-crest—maryland-high-point-trail.html

Here’s another link that explains the details of the trail in more detail. http://www.traveling219.com/stories/deep-creek-lake-elkins/backbone-mountain-wv-md/

The Garrett County Autumn Glory Festival will take place October 10-14, 2018. It would be a fine time to visit beautiful Garrett County and to climb Backbone Mountain. https://autumnglory.com/