If you love to get out there in your 4×4 as much as I do then you welcome the different challenges that each season brings with it. The winter is no exception and snow wheeling is a unique experience only to be enjoyed for a few months each year. This year several people that were interested in participating in the annual MAFWDA Snow Run were not available that weekend and so it was decided CORE would have to have it’s own Snow Run as well this year. Along for the ride were the following brave souls:
We’d had a fun day getting away from civilization, gone off the beaten path, found some snow to play in, and even enjoyed a surprise campfire!
- Andrew and Cherie Taylor (Members) – Silver Nissan Xterra
- Kevin, Gigi, Tyler and Kelsey Barnes (Members) – Black Land Rover Discovery
- Robert Rixham, Fred Granruth and Shelley Fitch (Members) – Silver Toyota 4Runner
- Serguei and Sebastian Sviatyi (Guests) – Blue Jeep JKU
I chose Green Ridge State Forest because it was the most likely place I figured we’d find snow in February, it was generally stocker friendly, and it didn’t have many ledges that would get treacherous if we found ice (read the last 2 trail reports!). Most of us met in Frederick, with the plan on meeting Robert at the entrance to GRSF since he was coming from the west. Since the forest isn’t super far away I decided an 8:30 meeting time in Frederick and a 10am meeting at the forest would be fine, no need to be super early. We all met up, gassed up, and met up again with no issues. As we approached the forest we couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be less snow on the ground than where we were coming from!
My planned route was in 3 parts, with 3 seperate loops that would all end back at the entrance to the state forest at the exit off I-68. Each loop would take less time, 2.5 hours, 1.5 hours and 1 hour, so that we could customize the trip as we went along. We began by heading west, taking the scenic route toward Twigg Road, the only road in the state forest with a sign that warns “4×4 Only.” Although there wasn’t a lot of snow there was enough to lose traction every now and then if you weren’t paying attention. Twigg Road had not been traveled since the last snow and so we made new tracks in the snow.
It was amazing how many wildlife footprints there were in the snow. Various sizes of footprints from different small to medium sized mammals and birds were everywhere on the roads that were less travelled! After Twigg Road, which was as rutted as the additional warning signs implied, we went onto Jacobs Road and crossed the small bridge. Shortly after as we crossed the power lines we decided to stop for lunch, and pulled over into the campsite there. Because the trees had been cleared around the powerlines we had quite the view. But also in store for us was a surprise. Sebastian had had the great idea to have a campfire for lunch! Serguei thinking it was a great idea had grabbed wood earlier in the day, and so we made a small fire to warm up around for lunch! Sebastian even cooked hot dogs and later marshmallows over it. It was a really great idea! The wood burned up about the time we were ready to keep moving. There was plenty of snow around to douse what few flames were left, and the activity turned into a snow fight amongst the kids (and the adults they sucked into it).
Turning left onto Green Ridge Road we passed what at first looked like quite the jacked up pickup truck, but then we discovered it was actually without wheels. Robert said over the CB “I believe that’s a 4×4 on 2×4’s!” to which we all had a good laugh. We stopped at Banners Overlook to take in the view, checked out the cool campsite across the road, and then descended back down the mountain. The switchbacks were snow covered and so required us to all drop into a lower gear to avoid using the brakes and sliding. On our way to the boat launch on Bond Landings Road we couldn’t help but notice how different the drive in seemed because the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which is usually almost fluorescent green with algae, was white, frozen over and covered with a blanket of snow!
After stopping to enjoy the water at the boat launch, and use the bathrooms, we piled back in. Our next goal was to locate Group Site 6 where we’ll be staying for the upcoming MAFWDA GRSF Volunteering Weekend. On the way we found an especially rutted out part of the road along Carroll Road, and with the snow making it even more fun we decided to loop back just to enjoy the hill going up, and one more time coming down. We were out to have a good time and little gems like that are worth enjoying! We located the campsite further along Carroll Road, and marked it on the map (39.613080, -78.442484). It’s sad to see the amount of vandalism at the pavillion though, why can’t people appreciate what we share instead of destroying it?
We continued on, rounding out my first loop back at Fifteen Mile Creek Road just off I-68. We had a quick pow-wow via CB and decided it was late enough in the day, because we had taken our time meandering around, that maybe just doing the 3rd, shortest loop, and then calling it a day would be best. This would take us north of I-68, something I’d never done in this area (other than the first time Cherie and I were trying nearly in vain to find Group Site 1 so many trips ago).
The loop I had picked took us north along 15 Mile Creek Road SE and then looping through the state forest until we arrived back at I-68 at Frank Davis Road. We discovered a few more roads with virgin snow, and two optional water crossings along 15 Mile Creek Road SE. Not sure if those water crossings are legitimate, but we saved them for another day either way. By the time we looped back to I-68, we were all ready to call it a day. We caravanned over to the Little Orleans Gas station, taking the scenic route along US40 of course, where we gassed up, aired up, and said our goodbyes. We’d had a fun day getting away from civilization, gone off the beaten path, found some snow to play in, and even enjoyed a surprise campfire! We had all had fun playing in the snow!
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Trail report written by Andrew Taylor. Pictures courtesy of Cherie Taylor.