Thurston Griggs Trail to Ensign Phillip Cowall Shelter is a 11 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Hagerstown, MD that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from March until October.
The Thurston Griggs Trail (TGT) is a rugged .9 mile trail that crisscrosses a stream and ascends 625 feet until it meets the Appalachian Trail. From there, the hike heads north to the Cowall Shelter, for a lunch stop. The hike has many extremely rocky sections of trail, six stream crossings, and a total ascent of 1500+ feet. Take the Thurston Griggs Trail from the parking area, heading immediately across a stream and continue on. You'll shortly get to a dirt road, cross the road and continue on the trail (trail sign indicating AT) that follows the stream upwards. The TGT will arrive at the Appalachian trail at Pogo Camp Ground. Turn left to head north towards the Ensign Phillip Cowall Shelter. Around mile marker 5.25 you'll cross a paved road to continue northward on the AT. You'll see that there is a parking lot to the right that also provides access to this trail. The Thurston Griggs Trail is a feeder trail to the Appalachian Trail near Smithsburg, Maryland. Thurston Griggs was one of the Mountain Clubs most illustrious members who recently passed away at the age of 95. He spent numerous hours contributing to the Appalachian Trail and other hiking and conservation endeavors.
This is a VERY rocky and challenging trail for the beginning backpacker or day hiker. There are no springs or privys. There is a creek on the Thurston Griggs blue blaze.
AT part is a bit busy but otherwise a great hike. Trees in the fall are beautiful.
Its tough but a rewarding walk in the woods.