Springtime in the mountains can be quite the adventure. You never know if you’ll be surprised by a blanket of snow or delighted with carpets of blooming wildflowers, all of which makes living in the moment almost an imperative.
Garrett County, Md., perched high in the Allegheny Mountains, offers so many possibilities in the springtime that it’s easy to have a Plan B, C, and D at the ready in case the weekend weather dictates a pivot.
Whatever the weather, there’s a way to be outside enjoying the bounty of the region. Canoe or cast your fishing line on the county’s lakes and rivers, zip through treetops on ropes courses or a mountain coaster at the Wisp Resort, bike or hike the plethora of trails snaking through the county, or sample the area’s specialties with wine, cheese, and craft beers.
To welcome spring visitors, several Deep Creek Lake area hotels and businesses are offering the 3-2-1 Lodging and Activity Promotion through May 11.
Six lodging companies are offering three-night stays for the price of two, as well as special activity deals including discounts on dining, wine and beer tastings, spirit purchases, and amusement center activities.
Whether your preference is to paddle, motor, or just wade, Garrett County’s waterways offer a bounty of options.
While only the most hardy are waterskiing in wetsuits during the spring, Deep Creek Lake remains a draw for fishing and kayaking. Smaller lakes such as Broadford and Herrington Manor are also popular fishing spots. And, there’s the trout fishing on the Casselman, Youghiogheny, and Savage rivers that bring out the anglers.
Check out the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website to plan your trip. Another option is a guide, such as Don Hershfield, of Streams and Dreams, who can help you out.
Mountain park play
Springtime at Wisp Resort means a mountainful of adventures, from ground-grazing ropes courses for the little ones to treetop zip lines to the thrill of a mountain coaster rushing downhill. Other activities, including archery and gem mining, round out the family fun. Nearby, play centers such as Smiley’s Fun Zone offer bumper cars and go-carts.
Garrett trail goodness
In the time between snow-melt and leaf-out, the Garrett County woods reveal a sensory extravaganza.
Pungent ramps and stinky skunk cabbage send up broad fat leaves. Woodland beauties, including trillium, trout lilies, and dog-toothed violet, embrace the season of emergence. Maple sap runs on its journey to be boiled down to syrup. And, in the frost-pocket of the county’s curious Cranesville sub-arctic swamp, bog-loving species emerge and shelter in a boreal 1,600-acre wonderland.
Whether you choose to hike to hear the springtime roar of the state’s largest waterfall at Swallow Falls State Park or navigate the technical challenges of Fork Run Recreational Area on a mountain bike, the Garrett Trails website can guide you to mapped trails with varying degrees of difficulty to help you explore the wealth of the county’s beauty.
Developed by local enthusiasts, the trail systems can be explored on foot, horseback, or mountain bikes, depending on which trail you choose. Beginners and those unfamiliar with the area can opt for guided tours with local natural photographer Crede Calhoun, of All Earth Eco Tours.
Eat and drink local
Spring’s culinary pleasures in Garrett County include local Firefly Farms goat cheeses and High Country Creamery cow cheeses, local wines from Deep Creek Cellars and beer from Mountain State Brewing Company, newly boiled-down maple syrup from a number of family farms topping buckwheat pancakes, and the pungent taste of just-harvested ramps.
For ramp aficionados, the annual Ramp Cook-Off will be held April 29 at the Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake State Park. From raw to roasted, this Appalachian delicacy will wake up your taste buds, just as the rest of Garrett County serves up a mountain spring.
Garrett Co. Tourism: visitdeepcreek.com