Appalachian Trail through South Mountain State Park

MODERATE 5 reviews
#6 of 11 trails in

Appalachian Trail through South Mountain State Park is a 5.5 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Smithsburg, MD that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

5.5 miles 1187 feet Point to Point

kid friendly



nature trips




wild flowers

2 months ago

Great hike. Date: 4/17/2016

2 months ago

Great hike. Awesome lake at the end

4 months ago

Pen Mar Park to Raven Rock Shelter and Devil's Racecourse
Did a little more of the AT this weekend as we ‘connect the dots’ with the goal of eventually seeing the whole thing. Starting to look at doing longer and longer sections and then most likely a through. Total hike distance in, out, and around: 12.0 miles
Video of the trip is here:
We had a great time with this one and it has a little of everything (easy flat walking, rocky ascents/descents, great views, nice shelter, and weird natural formations).
This is a moderate day hike for those that are not used to hiking or a pretty simple in-and-out if you camp overnight like we did. From the parking at Pen Mar Park, Raven Run Shelter is about 4.7 miles away. The trail starts off very easy on the way south out of the park. At around 2.4 miles, the trail proceeds steeply up a very rocky section for about 0.8 miles. This section, although not long, is pretty tiring…especially on the way back down. On the way to the shelter, you pass High Rock, which is a blue blazed side trail that goes to a very nice (although graffiti covered) overlook. As you approach the shelter, it is 0.1 miles down a blue blaze trail on the right, and the spring is located 0.3 miles in the opposite direction down near where the old Devil’s Racecourse Shelter (now removed) used to be. The trip to get water from the shelter is a little long and steep, but the water is very good! Just past the spring, the trail continues unmarked about 0.2 miles to a really weird rock formation that covers the Little Antietam Creek. This is called the Devil’s Racecourse. I thought it was definitely worth seeing, certainly as much as the many views from peaks available along the AT in Maryland.

Also met “Drips” (Julia), “Clammy - 2013” (Collin), and Stu, who stopped by the Raven Rock Shelter in the evening with some outstanding trail magic (hiked a grill in with burgers). As it should be, totally unexpected, and very well received by the 6 through hikers spending the night. Great people and great company for the evening. Also ran into a familiar face from the Flip Flop Festival preparing for his SOBO from Maine in a couple weeks. 

Link to Pen Mar Park:
Address: 14600 Pen Mar/High Rock Road, Cascade, MD 21719

To get an overnight parking pass for the lot outside the park, contact the park office at: 240-313-2700, or email:
Provide them with your cell phone number, vehicle make, model, color, license plate#, and dates the vehicle will be there overnight.

9 months ago

10 months ago

Did this section as part of the Maryland section of the AT. Easy/flat hiking in general. The terrain is rocky so be sure to have books that go over the ankle or be prepared to sprain one.