Cycling with the Savage River Lodge, Maryland

This story will appear in the upcoming issue of Recreation News

You can hand your keys over if you like once you travel the miles of remote stone forest roads and arrive at the Savage River Lodge in Maryland. You won’t want to drive anymore and you won’t need to. Fine award-winning dining is an extremely pleasant walk down an intimate road through a pine plantation from your luxury log cabin to the main lodge. Everything you need for a rejuvenating visit is provided by lodge owners, Jan Russell and Mike Dreisbach.  But don’t think this delightful get-away is only for the sedentary visitor whose only need is comfort.

Besides a visionary lodge builder, Mike is a trail builder extraordinaire. In cooperation with Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources and Savage River State Forest, there are fifteen miles of maintained and marked trails leading from the front doors of the eighteen cabins. Mike designed and built them himself combining already existing logging roads and creating connecting trails. One dozen individually marked color-coded trails take you through a variety of terrain and ecosystems. They are best for hiking but hard-core mountain bikers have found great pleasure riding the forested trails. The lodge might only own 45 acres privately acres but it has permission to utilize maintained trails on the surrounding 50,000 acres of state forest public lands. How the Savage River Lodge shines the brightest however, is their cycling packages on the nearby, extremely popular Great Allegheny Passage.

The lodge sits in close proximity to various stretches of this 350-mile completely off-road route that travels from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC. Savage River Lodge even keeps this part of your experience hassle free. They provide the comfort cruiser bicycles as well as shuttle service and their invaluable experience helping you decide on mileage as well as which direction to ride so your trip can possible be all downhill!

The lodge packages multiple cycling experiences:  a 50-40-30 mile three-day adventure, as well a Half Gap 75 mile 2-day trip. Included in the package is a delightful overnight cabin stay, bike rental, shuttles, complimentary breakfast muffin, packed lunches and souvenir water bottles. You can also create your own itinerary combining cycling/hiking.

Mike tells me that they have reintroduced many couples back into the sport of cycling who may have been away from this excellent mode of exercising for most of their adult life. One ride in particular, from Deal to Cumberland, a 25-mile stretch, enables folks to go home and boast that they covered the impressive distance in a couple hours. Never mind that it practically leads off from the highest point on the rail trail which is also the ridgeline of the Eastern Continental Divide. The important thing is that cycling on the Great Allegheny Passage with Savage River Lodge builds confidence and the many repeat customers return with their own bikes, to do bigger, longer and more challenging rides and have begun to develop a healthier lifestyle.

Another advantage of basing a cycling get-away out of Savage River Lodge is these nearby bike trail sections include some of the most exciting attractions on the entire system: the 3,294 foot Big Savage Tunnel, which gets nearly pitch black inside, the Eastern Continental Divide and its impressive painted murals celebrating and illustrating the spot, the magnificent 1,908 mile long open viaduct high above the sparkling Casselman River, and the wind turbines marching along the ridge, spinning in elegant beauty.  

After the bike trail impresses you, the 325 solar panels decorating the hillside behind the main lodge will also volley for your admiration, once you learn that this eco-friendly lodge creates 95% of their own electricity nine months of the year. They also recycle their frying oil and transform it into bio-diesel that powers their snow blowers, garden tractors, mules, etc. 

If all this weren’t reason enough to come enjoy the Savage River Lodge, they are expanding in the coming year by adding twelve, thirty foot in diameter luxury yurts. These round Mongolian style dwellings will raise the comfort bar higher by adding radiant floor heating and king size beds so winter visitors can enjoy the well-groomed X-country ski trails surrounding the lodge even more.


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