When we think of spring in Allegany County, the Mountain Side of Maryland, we think of the budding trees, the Eastern Redbud blossoms, fruitful hikes through the forests, and biking and hiking on the various trails throughout our parks and passages. It's a time to shake off the winter thaw, relieve the cabin fever, and get out to enjoy the temperate weather. As we welcome the spring equinox, here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy Mountain Maryland through the season!
CATCH THE NATIVE EASTERN REDBUD TREES BLOOM!
This beautiful reddish-pink flower is one of our favorite first signs of spring and can be spotted in radiant clusters along our scenic byways. Hop in the car for a scenic drive or take one of our road cycling routes along Route 40 to catch this brilliant display of spring.
Spring is the perfect time to hunt some of Allegany County’s most coveted wild edibles - ramp onions and morel mushrooms. With over 50,000 acres of public, wooded land between Rocky Gap State Park and Green Ridge State Forest, there are plenty of opportunities to forage. We aren’t giving up our spots, though, that is part of the fun!
DINE IN THE OUTDOORS
If there is one thing we do right in Mountain Maryland, it’s the outdoors, and that does not stop with our abundant public lands and outdoor recreation. With the mountains as our backdrop and the cool mountain breeze, we have some truly great places to relax and dine in the outdoors. So, pull up a seat at our table, and dine al fresco in Allegany County, the Mountain Side of Maryland.
VISIT THE PAW PAW TUNNEL
The Paw Paw Tunnel, undoubtedly one of the most important 19th-century engineering feats in the life of the C&O Canal, tunnels 6/10ths of a mile through a mountain with over 6 million bricks used in its making. Today, the Paw Paw Tunnel is maintained by the National Park Service and is used by thousands of hikers and bikers each year. It is open year-round from daylight to dusk. But if you plan to visit, bring a flashlight. Even on the sunniest days, the openings at both ends of the tunnel reduce to pinpoints as you make the 20-minute walk through the center of the tunnel.
GO PADDLING WITH A PET
Vacations are for the whole family, and your four-legged friend is no exception. Rocky Gap State Park is hailed as one of Maryland's most dog-friendly state parks. Two out of three beaches on Rocky Gap's Lake Habeeb welcome dogs and even have roped-off areas where families can swim with their furry companions. You can even bring the pup along on a canoe ride around the lake.
VISIT THE "CROSSROADS OF AMERICA" EXHIBIT
Beyond our byways, you can discover more about the National Road in Allegany Museum's "Crossroads of America" exhibit to learn more about the story of how Allegany County developed because of its proximity as one of the few routes between the northeast and westward exploration in America. The exhibit takes you through history, beginning with the story of the Native American Nemacolin Trail, continuing through the times of General Braddock and President Washington, and on to the development of the C&O Canal, the B&O Railroad, and the Nation's first federally-funded highway, the National Road.
CYCLE TO BONE CAVE
The Great Allegheny Passage is an internationally recognized rail trail that follows the old Western Maryland Railway line from Cumberland to Frostburg. Cycle the route where you will find the Bone Cave. When the original rail line was constructed in 1912, a local naturalist discovered fossils among the rocks blasted from the site, prompting excavation by paleontologists from the Smithsonian Institution that same year who uncovered 41 genera of mammals, including a saber-toothed cat that is now on permanent exhibit in the Ice Age Mammal exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History.