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State Forest Trails Trek Deep Into Maryland’s Nature

Photo of stream in forest

Savage River State Forest in early fall. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

For those looking for an outdoor experience that truly gets away from it all, Maryland has 214,000 acres of public forest land, much of which is open to hikers, bikers, birders, anglers, photographers, and campers.

Trails are available in all 11 forests managed by the Maryland Forest Service. State forests have short hikes that are perfect for a day trip, as well as long trails through remote terrain for real wilderness aficionados.

Maryland Forest Service trail planner Jeff Simcoe said hiking provides many benefits, beyond just being fun. 

“Individuals that hike regularly may experience improvements in physical and mental health while increasing their knowledge and appreciation of the natural world,” Simcoe said. 

Before setting out, trail users should carefully consider what route to take and what gear to bring. Whether hiking, biking, or just spending time in nature, it’s always best to have a partner. Other essentials include food, water, and first aid supplies. 

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources urges visitors to all public lands to follow the principles of Leave No Trace – leave what you find, travel and camp on durable surfaces, be considerate of others, respect wildlife, dispose of waste properly, minimize campfire impacts, and plan ahead and prepare.  

Parks, state forests, wilderness areas, or other public lands may provide different user experiences and amenities. Trail users may encounter differences in wayfinding signage, trail conditions and maintenance, and less available amenities such as restrooms or cell phone signals in state forests and wilderness areas compared to state parks.

For those venturing into a state forest, the Maryland Forest Service website provides key information and contacts if you need assistance.

Below is a list of state forest trails by region, along with website links and maps:


Photo of trail leading into a forest

Pocomoke State Forest. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

Pocomoke State Forest

  • Chandler Tract Trails. The Chandler tract has a total of 6.8 miles of trails with multiple loops. There are multiple trails designated by three different colors. The large loop (green) is 4.4 miles when starting from the south parking lot. An additional 1.7-mile blue trail loop begins and ends at the northeastern edge of the green loop. The 1.5-mile white trail begins at the south parking lot and terminates at Corker’s Creek. Parking for the Chandler tract is located off Worcester Highway (US 113) directly across from the Shad Landing area of Pocomoke River State Park.
  • Milburn Landing Trails. Located adjacent to the Milburn Landing area of Pocomoke River State Park, this 3.7-mile loop trail traverses through upland pine and hardwood forests, as well as bald cypress bottomlands. Approximately 2.2 miles of the trail is shared with the Algonquin Cross County Trail. Horses and non-motorized bikes are allowed only on the shared portions of the trail. Parking is available on Camp Road, Nassawango Road, or in Pocomoke River State Park.


Cedarville State Forest

  • The Blue Trail features short hills and passes by several streams and springs, plus abandoned farmland, on an easy 4-mile loop. The Blue Trail intersects Cross Road and Forest Road to allow a flexible hike length. The trailhead for the Blue Trail is near the charcoal kiln parking lot.
  • The Brown Trail is an easy 2.5-mile loop that is generally level and dry. This trail passes an abandoned pine plantation and a four-acre pond. The trailhead for the Brown Trail is near the pond parking lot.


Photo of large forest

Aerial view of Elk Neck State Forest. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

Elk Neck State Forest

  • The Mason Dixon Trail passes through Elk Neck State Forest. Hikers can plan multiple day trips by using this trail system, which explores some of the most natural settings in the forest including the Plum Creek Natural Area. Unknown to many, this long-distance trail route covers some 193 miles. The trail starts from the Appalachian Trail at Whiskey Springs in Pennsylvania and concludes at the Brandywine Trail at Chadds Ford, Pa. on the banks of the Brandywine River. The trail through Elk Neck State Forest is gentle to moderately sloped. The 8.1-mile trail traverses all three main driving trails on the Main Tract and hikers can choose to do the system in its entirety or in small sections from parking areas near trailhead intersection points.

Arboretum Hiking Trail

  • Elk Neck State Forest’s Arboretum has 61 newly planted specimens and 35 pre-existing specimens on display. There are 52 different species of Maryland native shrubs and trees that are identified along the walking paths that total a half-mile of easy walking surfaces.


Photo of lane leading into a forest

Green Ridge State Forest in spring. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

Savage River State Forest

  • Monroe Run Trail. This 4.6-mile moderately difficult trail is short enough for an afternoon hike with good scenery at Monroe Run Overlook. The crumbling bridge abutments are the only remaining evidence that this scenic trail was formerly a connection road built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Frequent unbridged stream crossings provide plenty of cool resting spots along the way. There is a parking area off the New Germany Road and the trail ends near Big Run State Park. This trail can be hiked as an out and back, which will double the miles or trail users can set cars at the beginning and end of the trail for a shorter adventure. Campsites are nearby and it has one of the best views in Garrett County. 

Green Ridge State Forest

  • Twin Oaks Pine Lick Loop. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, this trail is approximately 4 miles in length. The loop starts on the Twin Oaks Trail that is blazed pink and returns to the starting point on the Pine Lick Trail that is blazed blue. The path offers an opportunity to see white oaks, red oaks, chestnut, hickory, dogwood, redbud and white pine trees at various life stages. 

Potomac-Garrett State Forest

  • Lostland Run itself is a clear, cold mountain stream, and the 3.5-mile trail that follows it includes a suspension bridge crossing and affords views of magnificent waterfalls and the confluence with the Potomac River. Hikers can take in the scenic beauty of Cascade Falls and enjoy rhododendrons and hemlock trees. At the end of the trail, a short spur leads to the Potomac Overlook. A hike on Lostland Run takes about two hours each way

Article by Rachael Pacella, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Office of Communications.