Backbone Mountain Trip Report
On Wednesday, September 23rd of 2015 I stood on Backbone Mountain which 3,360′ is the highest point in Maryland with my trusty Jeep nearby.
This was highpoint #2 of 6 completed during our 2015 East Central Trip taken in “BigByrd” our 41′ motor coach, and it was #35 out of the 50 states for me.
Summit Date: Wednesday, September 23rd of 2015
US Rank by Height: 32nd
Round Trip Hiking Distance: 2 Miles
Round Trip Hiking Time: 1.5 Hours
Glamping in Canaan Valley
We camped in BigByrd the night before at the luxurious Canaan Valley Resort. The sprawling grounds are immaculate, with an impressive grand lodge perched on a hill.
This is without a doubt the snazziest place we have camped. They have a top notch golf course, a full bar (a prerequisite for golfers), an impressive restaurant, a gift shop, pool, arcade, gym and a spa. If that isn’t enough, they also have sporting clays, a rock climbing wall and skiing in the winter. You can stay in lodge rooms, cabins, cottages or use the spacious and secluded camping spots nestled among the trees as we did. There are deer, everywhere, we probably saw over 100 of them, and some walked right into the camp.
A Perfect Day
It was a perfect day for a highpoint. I was considering a sunrise summit but Susan likes to stay up late (she’s a bad influence), so I decided to wait and do it at sunset instead. Blaine Yates who I met on the summit of Spruce Knob (here is that trip report) went for a sunrise summit and it was fogged in, so I’m glad I waited.
I drove north on 219 which is a fantastic mountain road with lots of great scenery and valley views. It was a beautiful drive through the mountains and the trees along the highway were just beginning to display their fall colors.
I had plenty of time, so at Blaine’s recommendation, I visited the Our Lady of the Pines, which the sign says is the smallest church in 48 states. I’m not sure if the sign was made before the last two states joined the USA, or the missing states have smaller churches, but at any rate it’s definitely a small church. All of the fixtures are handmade, and it is very well maintained.
The Summit Trail
Arriving at the trailhead I eyed the trail and thought that it might be just wide enough for the jeep, so being the adventurous type I pointed the jeep uphill and gunned it.
It didn’t take long to get there and I was able to take the Jeep almost all the way to the top before the trees grew too close together for me to drive further.
Driving up the rough mountain trail over logs, washouts and rocks was the most intense thing I’ve done with the Jeep Rubicon but the it never faltered. It was loads of fun and it took a while for me to stop grinning.
It was a few minutes hike up from the Jeep, and I walked along cigar in hand enjoying the view. Along way I had great views of the pristine forests and farmland spread out before me in the surrounding valleys.
The summit area itself is shrouded in trees so there isn’t much of a view from here. It does however have all of the standard highpoint accouterments.
The summit of Backbone Mountain is named Hoye Crest after Captain Charles Hoye who must have done something ultra cool.
Step Aside Magellan
Having completed the highpoint I decided to explore the area. Just down the road from the highpoint was Silver Lake RV Campground. Silver Lake is a man made lake built in 1928, the lake is retained by a small concrete splash dam and is located at the headwaters of the Youghiogheny River. The campground was built in the 1930s, and was at one time a popular vacation destination. Today the park is primarily a private campground, with many camping trailers permanently placed around the lake year round.
It’s a picturesque setting and the travel trailers are small, old and mostly in poor condition. There is broken furniture, a scrapped dredging barge on the bank, and all manner of detritus scattered about, but it somehow works and looks quite charming.
There is a large wind farm along the mountain ridge that stretches into the distance. I’m fascinated with these massive machines and when I saw the gate for the access road open I wheeled the Jeep around to get a closer look. The road was gravel, smooth and followed the curves of the mountain ridge through the wind farm.
I let the Jeep have its head along the spirited road for several miles, until I had the view I was looking for. Once there, I grabbed the tripod, climbed up on the roof of the Jeep and shot some sunset photos.
This was probably my favorite highpoint of the entire trip. It was loads of fun to take the Jeep up the mountain and down the many side roads I explored in the area. The Jeep Rubicon was purchased as a tow vehicle, and is undoubtedly the best tow vehicle available as it was actually designed for it. I don’t drive it much at home, but I’m growing quite fond of it and its impressive off road capabilities. I think maybe it needs a snorkel…