It’s always cooler up here in the Alleghenies at 2400 feet elevation. In the last week, when our friends downstate were experiencing temperatures of over 100 degrees, our thermometer never hit 85! We’re consistently 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the surrounding metropolitan areas, which makes us the perfect summer escape. And even when the mercury is high, there are plenty of ways to cool down while playing in the mountains.
IN OUR OWN BACKYARD
Take a hike around the perimeter of our woods on the outer loop Red Trail and you’ll meander along Mud Lick and the headwaters of the Savage River. The entire loop is a relatively easy 3.2 miles, with plenty of places to pause and cool your heels in the shallow streams. And actually, why bother putting your shoes back on? Soft mountain mosses are everywhere.
Downstream, the Savage River dam slows the river into a deep reservoir where no motorized boats are allowed and there’s no development at all. Unlike at Deep Creek Lake, which is teeming with powerboats and ringed by vacation homes, it’s very easy to find yourself completely alone on “the rez”. Because of the steep hills, there’s little shoreline beyond the boat landings at Big Run State Park and Dry Run Road so it’s best experienced out on the water. Bring a canoe and a pair of binoculars because you might spot an eagle!
- Savage River Lodge’s Mount Aetna Tract Trails, on-site
- Savage River Reservoir at Big Run State Park, 35 minutes from SRL
The pleasant 13-acre lake at New Germany State Park has a cordoned-off swimming area and sandy beach that’s great for kids. The Lake House has paddleboats for rent and also offers concessions on the weekends. If you’re in the mood for more hiking, there are ten miles of well-marked wooded trails throughout the park.
One of the best known attractions in all of Maryland is Swallow Falls State Park, and with good reason. The showpiece feature is Muddy Creek Falls, the tallest free-flowing waterfall in the state with a 53-foot drop. But you’ll find more locals swimming in the river than admiring the falls. Broad rock outcroppings line the riverbanks below Swallow Falls that make great sunbathing spots. Short trails connect the park’s three waterfalls through virgin pine and hemlock forests, or discover the fisherman’s trail to explore more of the river.
A few miles downstream of Swallow Falls, the Youghiogheny (yawk-uh-GAIN-ee) River quickens into a froth of whitewater. One of the most renowned stretches of river among whitewater enthusiasts, the Upper Yough is a Class IV-V river that draws experienced paddlers from all over the world. But the novice has access too, thanks to a handful of companies with more than 50 years of experience on these rapids, like Friendsville, MD’s Precision Rafting. Frequent trips are scheduled from April to October thanks to planned releases from the Deep Creek Lake dam, which means this water is cold and highly invigorating. Guaranteed to be a better and more memorable ride than Splash Mountain!
- New Germany State Park, 30 minutes from SRL
- Swallow Falls State Park, 1 hour
- Precision Rafting on the Upper Yough, 40 minutes
If you want a cool mountain breeze you should head to the top of a mountain! Just up the road from SRL is St. John’s Rock atop Big Savage Mountain, at just under 3000 feet in elevation. There is a trace of Braddock Road barely visible here, the predecessor to Route 40 and the National Road blazed during a march to Fort Duquesne in Pittsburgh during the French & Indian War. St John’s Rock is also the terminus of the challenging 17-mile Big Savage Mountain Trail.
Dan’s Rock Overlook near Midland, MD offers expansive views of the ripples of hill and valley formations from the edge of the Allegheny Front escarpment. A popular spot with locals, the rocks are covered in colorful graffiti but it doesn’t distract from the panorama. The overlook is on one end of Dan’s Mountain State Park, which also has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and waterslides.
- St. John’s Rock, 15 minutes from SRL
- Dan’s Rock Overlook, 30 minutes
NATURAL AIR CONDITIONING
Laurel Caverns is the largest and deepest cave in Pennsylvania. The stable, year-round temperature of 52 degrees feels incredible on a hot summer day! There are over three miles of passages underground, and the height of some rooms soar as high as 50 feet. In addition to standard tours, they also offer spelunking and rappelling.
- Laurel Caverns, 1 hour
FROM THE INSIDE OUT
After a day of either adventuring or doing nothing, cool off from the inside out with a cocktail. Tart lemonade is still as refreshing as it was from the lemonade stand when you were a kid, and complements many liquors from gin to whiskey. One of our favorites from our summer cocktail menu is the HoneyBerry Vodka Smash:
- Muddle 2 or 3 strawberries in a cocktail shaker with an ounce of honey and 2 dashes of orange bitters.
- Add 1.5 ounces of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 2 ounces of Pittsburgh’s own Boyd & Blair potato vodka.
- Add ice and shake vigorously so that the honey is well-blended.
- Strain over ice and garnish with a sliced whole strawberry.
Your pup needs to beat the heat, too! Most of our cabins are pet-friendly, and not just for dogs. But canines will especially appreciate being able to follow their noses for as long as they’d like along our many miles of trails, and are invited to Koko & Karma’s favorite swimming hole any time.
Did we miss your favorite way to cool off in Mountain Maryland? Let us know in the comments!