Garrett County Open for Outdoor Enthusiasts in April

The Romans gave this month the Latin name Aprilis. The name aperire means “to open” and appears to reference the Spring season when trees and flowers begin to “open” at the start of the growing season. Even with our cool winter and early Spring here in Garrett County, plants are growing as evidenced by the daffodils pushing through the hard earth throughout the County.

While the county has a rich, active Winter season, April is the true beginning of things to come for local and visiting outdoor enthusiasts seeking warm-weather activities.  April is called “the mud season” by some due to snow melt and rain, even as it “presents” the myriad outdoor (and indoor) warm weather activities available to all.  Whatever one’s interests, there is something to do in Garrett County in the warmer months of the year.

Garrett County, upon its charter in 1872, was named after John W. Garrett, the former president of the B&O railroad.  But the County’s history goes far beyond that period and was truly part of America’s frontier, with a number of native American tribes calling the county home before John Friend founded what is now Friendsville in Northern Garrett County in 1765.

Speaking of Friendsville, it offers a great example of a place to explore that may seem a bit off the beaten track to many visitors and locals alike.  Located up route 42 right before you reach I-68, it provides everything from local indoor entertainment at Ken’s Irish Pub to great whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River.  Friendsville also offers great hiking opportunities, including access to the Kendall Trail.  The town also holds a number of events throughout the year including Friendsville Days, maker markets and an annual banjo and fiddle competition. On the way there, you can stop at Schoolhouse Earth for eclectic shopping finds and even Working H farms for some wonderful locally sourced meats.

Friendsville is just one example of what is available here in the County.  There are many other great villages and towns throughout the County that provide great day trips or access to great outdoor adventures.  To help give you a sense of what is out there and to get you in the “outdoor spirit” I have prepared the following “list” for your consideration when looking for things to do:

Deep Creek Lake – While this is an obvious attraction, there are a number of options available on or near the lake that should be considered.  One of the best is Deep Creek State Park located just off Glendale Road.  The park offers camping (after April 15th), swimming, hunting, fishing, hiking, guided programs and also contains the wonderful Discovery Center.

Hiking Trails – There are many trails encompassing many miles for all levels of expertise in Garrett County. The best place to look for information and maps is the Garrett trails website.  Garrett Trails is a non-profit organization that plans, manages, maintain our trails and that also hosts some great events, including the Gran Fondo and other competitions.

State Parks – While Deep Creek Lake is an epicenter of activity and adventure sports, it is by no means the only place to experience those activities.  In addition to Deep Creek Lake State Park there is also New Germany State Park, Swallow Falls State Park, Herrington Manor State Park and others in the County.  These parks include hiking, swimming, boating, hunting, fishing and other activities and are often overlooked by visitors and even second home owners and locals. One favorite of mine for your consideration is Swallow Falls with its great Hemlock forests, hiking trails and water falls.

A Great Small Town – Oakland, the county seat located a few miles south of the lake bills itself as a Great Small Town, and I agree.  There are lots of activities there in the Spring and Summer months, ranging from art shows, outdoor concerts, festivals, historic museums and other activities including antiquing and some good local places to eat.  It’s worth the drive.

Indoors – If you need some time out of the sun, or if it is raining, consider one of our great restaurants or shopping venues.  One of the best qualities of Garrett County eateries and retailers is that almost 100% are locally owned and operated and they offer a variety of choices.  Check out our Dining Guide for some more information and our Shopping Guide as well.

Gardening – I would be remiss if I did not put this “public Service announcement” in this article.  While many homeowners (both primary and second) look forward to the Spring to plant some new annuals, perennials, etc. I want to suggest that you wait until the chances of frost are extremely low or approach zero.  That would mean waiting until at least Memorial Day here on the mountain to plant anything outside.  The University of Maryland Extension is a great resource with some great people dedicated to helping us all get the most out of our planting efforts.

So, those are my thoughts to get you all aware of and thinking about all Garrett County has to offer in the warmer-weather months. There are so many options available that I just scratched the surface here.  But, remember that April is truly the “opening” of the warm weather outdoor season in the county.  Have fun and be safe.

Mike Tumbarello
Co-owner, Publisher