The SRL Summer Bucket List

A field at SRL on a summer evening

A field at SRL on a summer evening

Last night, Mike & Jan heard the first katydids singing. There's an old wives' tale in these parts that the first frost occurs six weeks after the katydids emerge (also known as bush crickets or long-horned grasshoppers). So, mark your calendars ─ that's September 19th! 

Before summer slips away, make a trip to the mountains. Breezy days with low humidity, cool evenings around the bonfire, and the forest lush with more shades of green than Crayola could ever dream of are reasons why our guests seek refuge from the steamy city. Here are ten more:

10. Ten degrees of separation

At approximately 2500 feet elevation and surrounded by forest, our thermometer rarely exceeds 82°F! We're usually at least ten degrees cooler than the metropolitan areas of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Washington and that temperature differential increases once the sun goes down. There's plenty of fresh mountain air to breathe!

9. Become a Fourteener

Since it's cooler, taking a long hike through the woods of Savage River Lodge and adjacent Savage River State Forest isn't nearly as daunting. The most adventurous of our guests can tackle all fourteen miles during their stay! Bodhi's Trail (green blazes) is always a favorite. 

8. Toast an American icon

Frank Lloyd Wright is undoubtedly the most famous American architect, and his landmark home Fallingwater is within an hour's drive of SRL in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. Our Art & Nature Package also sends you to Kentuck Knob, another Frank Lloyd Wright home with an extensive sculpture garden on the next hilltop over. When you return to Savage River Lodge, make a toast to Frank for his 150th birthday with a Kentuck Knob Mule from our summer cocktail menu. 

Kentuck Knob Mule
Combine two ounces Knob Creek Bourbon and a ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake for a few seconds, strain into a copper mug over fresh ice, top with Gosling's Ginger Beer, and garnish with lime wedge.

7. Pay your respects

Also in the Laurel Highlands approximately one hour away is that field of honor near Shanksville, PA: Flight 93 National Memorial. The Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm, closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. (Note that the Visitor Center will be closed until noon on Monday, September 11th for the annual remembrance ceremony.) The grounds are open year-round and are free of charge. Your visit will be heartbreaking, humbling, inspiring, and life changing.

6. The taste of summer

Our menus reflect the season. We will transition to our fall menu in late September, and say goodbye to summer flavors like Grilled Peach Caprese, best paired with our beautiful open-air deck dining. The height of the season will be on display at our second annual Farm to Table Weekend with a feature family-style meal, highlighting local ingredients from farmers we know. Make a dining reservation 

5. Life is ruff

They might not accrue time off from their bosses for good behavior, but they deserve a vacation just as much as you do! Many of our Cabins are pet-friendly (and not just for dogs!) There are endless stumps to sniff and sticks to fetch in the woods, and Kokopelli & Karma will even tell you where their favorite swimming hole is. After a long hike or swim, they can refresh at the dog wash station and have an item from the Bone Appétit menu prepared to enjoy back in the cabin. 

4. Cheese, please!

Garrett County is becoming known as Maryland's cheese capital with the newly opened High Country Creamery in Grantsville, and well-established FireFly Farms Creamery in Accident. We are especially fans of FireFly Farm's Cheese & Wine Package, an absolute must for all of our guests! Arrive hungry ─ you will taste four of their award-winning cheeses with paired wines and heaping charcuterie, nuts, olives, tapenades, and antipasto.

3. Mind the GAP

Consistently named as one of the best rail trails in the United States, the Great Allegheny Passage trail is a great mix of nature and history, with only a little bit of effort since the railroad grade has an average incline of less than 1%! Some of the trail's best known landmarks are very close to Savage River Lodge, including the Big Savage Tunnel and Eastern Continental Divide. We're only twenty minutes from the closest trailhead, but if you don't have a bike rack ─ or are coming by bike! ─ we'll pick you up

2. Seasons pass

Every season is special and we hope you get a chance to experience all four of them with us at Savage River Lodge. If you stay two nights in each season over a span of four years, your fifth two-night stay is on us! Seasons to do not have to consecutive, and don't worry ─ we keep track of your Season Pass stays for you.

1. Just because

For every reason, every season, and every now and then...


Savage River Lodge is a four-season destination in the mountains of Western Maryland with cozy cabins, luxury yurts, and a gourmet restaurant surrounded by 700 acres of protected state forest land. A relaxing retreat at all times of year, call us at 301-689-3200 or search availability online so we can help you plan your mountain getaway!

A Fall Day on the GAP

Fall seemed late in coming this year, but it’s more than made up for it with a long string of surprisingly warm, sunny days. Without a true frost yet, the leaves have changed more slowly than usual, and it seems as though the kaleidoscope of color will keep turning forever.

In Appalachia you learn to savor every sunny day. On a perfect fall day last week, we headed up to the Great Allegheny Passage for a bike ride.

The closest trailhead to Savage River Lodge is only 13 miles and just over 20 minutes away at Deal, PA. A popular ride for our guests is from there to Cumberland — Mike will shuttle you there and back for a 23 mile ride, and most of that is downhill!

Not long after embarking, you cross the Eastern Continental Divide. Did you know that most of the waters in Garrett County are part of the Ohio River watershed, eventually flowing into the Gulf of Mexico? (The Savage River drains into the North Branch of the Potomac, then on to the Chesapeak Bay.) The Eastern Continental Divide is atop Savage Mountain and divides those waters along an east-west line, just like the Mason-Dixon Line is a prominent north-south demarcation.

a-fall-day-on-the-gap-elevation map.jpg

The Allegheny Mountains were a formidable barrier for early settlers. Savage Mountain is named after a surveyor who nearly succumbed to voluntary cannibalism during the winter of 1736. It’s hard to imagine how challenging these mountains must have been before Interstate 68 was built until you travel through a mountain. The Big Savage Tunnel is the longest along the GAP, over half a mile in length and opened in 1912. Railways were first laid in the area in 1842, so with this late addition it must have felt like a real shortcut.

The tracks were pulled up and the tunnel closed in 1975 but reopened in 2003 after an $11 million renovation to accommodate GAP travelers. Without this link, the trail would have taken a 17-mile detour! The tunnel is well-lit and the cool concrete is a wonderful respite from hot summer sun.

Perhaps because we were travelling through on an October day, the imagination ran wild – the huge gates on either end of the tunnel make you think that you’re entering the Wall on “Game of Thrones” or a passageway to Mordor. It’s a highlight for many long-distance riders, in a triad with the continental divide and Mason-Dixon Line.

You emerge from the tunnel, partially blinded by the sudden sun, to a wide panorama of the hills and valleys of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. A line of picnic benches make for one of the best places to eat with a view we can think of!


From here, the trail continues another 5 miles to Frostburg and 14 more to Cumberland — all downhill from here.

It’s a real ride through history, particularly if you make the entire 335-mile trek from Pittsburgh to Georgetown, DC. In Cumberland, the rail trail meets with the C&O Canal Trail towpath which hugs to Potomac River all the way to tidewater. The canal was initially planned to extend to Lake Erie, but by the time canal construction made it to Cumberland in 1850, the railroads had already been forged and quickly overtook the canal as the preferred mode of travel for both cost and time. Though unused for over 100 years in some places, remnants of the past remain in telegraph lines, historic rail stations, lock houses, viaducts, and more tunnels. Portions of the trail parallel still-active CSX lines, as well as the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad which runs excursion trains between Cumberland and Frostburg.

The Big Savage Tunnel closes each winter from approximately December 15th to April 15th.

Learn more about SRL’s bike packages and read about one woman’s ‘Surprisingly Luxe‘ trip in an October 2015 article of the Wall Street Journal. We highly recommend “wine”-ing down from your ride with an in-cabin massage like she did!