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DNR Announces Results of Off-Road Vehicle Trail Review Process

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that of the three off-road vehicle (ORV) trails proposed for State-owned lands in Western Maryland, St. John’s Rock in Garrett County on the Savage River State Forest was the single property selected for ORV use. DNR made the decision based on comments gathered during the public input period this summer/fall. 

“We are thankful to the citizens who took the time to share their input through the public process both at the meetings and through our online system,” said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. “This is a great example of the department working with our professionals in the field to craft sound proposals and using public input to help guide the ultimate outcome. We also recognize the great work of the ORV Stakeholder Workgroup in helping lead us to this proposal phase and promise to continue coordinating with them to find alternative locations for this type of recreation.”

Ecologists and trail experts will work to establish paths and boundaries for ORV-use to develop the system for St. John’s Rock that would have minimal impact on surrounding natural resources. The system, slated for completion in the summer of 2014, will be managed, monitored, and its regulations enforced to ensure ecological best management practices.

“Our trails team is looking forward to implementing the new paradigm of ORV management on St. John’s Rock,” said John Wilson, manager of the Statewide Trails Development Office. “Working with our peers in land management, enforcement and information technology, we are confident that this trail, and all future ORV trails, can be well-regulated, safe and sustainable. We are committed to that end and look forward to demonstrating our plans for success.”

The other two proposals ─ Sideling Hill North and South trails, within the Woodmont Natural Resources Management Area near Hancock in Washington County ─ have been withdrawn and removed from further consideration as ORV trails.

Although not in the proposal, the former ORV trail at Greenridge State Forest remains closed in order to maintain the department’s statewide dual certification status for the State Forest System.  

DNR will continue to fortify ongoing efforts to develop public/private partnerships on potential private land ORV trails, and further evaluate opportunities to acquire access to other private land locations for multi-use recreational facilities.

A number of ORV trails were developed within the State Forests in the mid 1980s, quickly becoming a popular, in-demand form of recreation. However, most of the trails had to be closed in 2011, as some of the activity began to threaten environmentally sensitive areas. With only a few small ORV trails still open, DNR began a comprehensive two-year study to assess its landholdings and develop a plan that would incorporate these trails in a manner that would have minimal impact on sensitive natural areas.


  • Darrel Sigler

    Gee thanks fellows. One whole trail designated for ORV riding in the whole western MD state forest and countryside owned by the state. Unbelievable. I seriously think there is enough land in Green Ridge State Forest alone to open a different trail that won’t impact the environment. I feel that if the state had better controlled these trails, issues (such as injuries) wouldn’t have occurred so much. My tax money may soon move elsewhere just like my OVR usage (where I also bought gas, food, supplies in MD).

  • mike winter

    Great Stuff!! it’s about time our great little state gave it’s citizens another opportunity to take advantage of all the wonderful land we have set aside and owed my the State.

  • Joseph C Smith

    My family and I are from WV and we believe you should reopen Greenridge ORV trail,

  • T. L. Jenkins

    Glad to know that our voices are heard. Orvs would have destroyed the environment in our backyards, and run off all of the wildlife,and birds.
    Not to mention, what would we do with all of the trespassers captured.

  • scott stella

    how many miles of riding trails will this location have?

    • kking

      Hi Scott-
      The St. John’s Rock Trail will be approximately 6 miles out and then 6 miles back, for a grand total of about 12 miles. Thanks for your inquiry.

  • D Golden

    T.L. Jenkins, apparently you have never ridden down the highway with a deer grazing two feet off the shoulder with vehicles passing at 65+ miles per hour.

    It’s a shame that only one trail, located in the western most part of the state, was approved. Responsible management fosters responsible use. Denial of use fosters anger and frustration. MD owns sufficient land to maintain natural resources and allow additional off road recreation. I am very disappointed.

  • steve tappa

    hi ho hi ho, it’s off to Pennsylvania we go, where they truly care and provide for outdoor activities for their citizens. Sure wish i could spend my hard earned dollars in the State that i reside in?

  • J Keating

    It’s very disappointing that Maryland families have virtually no public land options to ride off road. While I applaud the current efforts to establish new trails I just can’t understand why trails would be closed for two years while a new study was being done. Let us enjoy our great state, please open more trails.

  • s.tappa

    oh well, I guess I will spend my hard earned Maryland $$ in Pennsylvania, where 6 miles of trails equates to one of their ORV area parking lots!! Shame on you Maryland. I have already posted a prior comment on here, and it looks like it got deleted, so much for free speech!

  • J. McDuffie

    I agree with Darrel S. Reopen something at Greenridge. There is plenty of land there to lay out a sustainable trail that won’t impact the environment. One site in Western Maryland isn’t enough and if everyone were to head there it would be closed soon enough because of impact issues.

    C’mon man–give us somewhere legal to ride!

  • Pete Lease

    I have and ride a registered ATV thru Pa. Although I reside in Maryland (at least for a while) I ride Pa trails. How does Pa. seem to have many trails open and with no problems and Maryland has to close Green Ridge? I rode Green Ridge a few times and it was only 18 miles or so . Not difficult, but a place to ride. And I registered my ATV in Maryland. Does Maryland have a different standard than Pa. does or is it the tree huggers that complained? Just wondering. With no trails to ride, the people will just ride illegally!

  • Thank you for the efforts to open this trail. The responsible members of the off road community recognize the difficulty the department faces working on our behalf, and we will work to support the department’s efforts to create more trail systems and off road recreation programs within our state forests and parks.

  • Ryan Knapp

    I am glad to hear that one trail has opened up, my family really enjoys riding together and we look forward to getting out there.

    I hope the future of ORV trail management can keep the priorities of all of the residence of Maryland in mind. Access to state land can comes in many forms and success for all parties involved just needs a clear plan and great execution.


  • Bill G

    6 miles out and 6 miles back, wow. Why is anyone going to bother traveling any distance to do that. Seriously , why bother. This is just a token act and the bare minimum the state could get away with doing.

  • Md tax payer

    This is B.S. I rode on Dans Mountain trails for years when I lived in Rawlings. I have not been riding sinse 1998. You can ride from Cresaptown to Barton. I’m looking to get a RZR and a ATV for my kid. Is there anywhere to ride near Cumberland? Why has the state closed all of the trails? Are they writing tickets for trail riding?

  • harold jones

    so when does this open and is there camping on or nearby the potential riding area so we don’t have to load and unload every time you wanna ride ?

    • kking

      Hi Harold,
      I’m not sure which trail you’re referring to. The answer will vary depending on the site.
      If it is the planned ORV trail at St Johns Rock on Savage River State Forest then yes, it will have a primitive camping area but its opening is still months away.
      The other ORV trail info can be found here >>

      Jack Perdue
      MD DNR Forest Service

  • R massie

    Well, i certainly won’t be driving 4 hours for 6 miles of trail. I would be done in 5 min. Correct me if i’m wrong, but , it isn’t a loop equaling 12 miles, just a straight 6 mile section? I had no prob driving 3 hours to greenridge for a 18 mile loop!! There is more than enough land , even if divided in half w one half being orv trail. Not enough bang for the buck, or gas money to get there.

  • George G

    I did some research a few years ago to find the best place to ride ATV’s. Living in the Baltimore area, the best place to go is in PA at Michaux State Forest just north of Gettysburg and all you need is a PA registration for 2 years ($25?) and from Baltimore it’s 1.5-2 hours. There’s a 25 mile round trip trail that is very nice and they have over 40 miles of trails mostly easy to intermediate.
    They have also a couple very nice trails just north of the Breezewood off the turnpike on Sidling Hill in the PA State Forest.

    Now for Maryland, I also belong to the Cresaptown Sportsman club near Cumberland/Frostburg in Western Md. because I love to hunt and ride.
    It cost $75 for the year to ATV or $125 to hunt and ATV and they have the best trails, all levels, of anywhere in the state, period. The property is adjacent to the Md. State Forest property of Dans Mt. at the north end. You can join just about anytime.

  • Troy

    So what trails are open to ORV’s in Garret County and where can you get a DNR approved map

    • kking13

      Greetings Troy,

      I am attaching a link below to the DNR OHV webpage that contains all rules, regulations and trail locations for off-road vehicles
      on DNR lands in the state of Maryland.

      The only official Off Highway Vehicles (OHV) trails on
      DNR lands are
      out in Western Maryland.

      DNR spent the last several years evaluating every DNR land unit across the state and the resource damage from OHV’s was determined to be extensive (see
      assessment report in the attached link above). As a result, it was determined that OHV riding trails would be limited to Western Maryland
      where impacts were manageable.

      In addition to the designated trails in Western Maryland, there are literally hundreds of miles of dirt roads within all of our state forests that do offer jeep riders an enjoyable experience. In addition to our western forests, there are the Chesapeake Forest lands on the eastern shore which include Pocomoke State Forest; down in Southern Maryland we have Cedarville, Salem, St. Inigoes, and Doncaster state forest lands. And there are also the forest roads on Elk Neck State Forest.

      DNR is also working with the Maryland Off Highway Vehicle A
      lliance, trying to develop OHV riding parks on privately-owned reclaimed mine sites.

      And finally, there are numerous private riding parks in Maryland. I am enclosing a link to an extensive list of private properties that charge a fee to OHV users.

  • Ryan

    We need trails on the Eastern shore. We have no where to ride our atvs since they closed pocomoke forest orv trails.