#11  Backbone Mountain, Maryland (3,360 ft.)

The highest point in Maryland is also known as Hoye-Crest, after the founder of the local historical society. The trail up the mountain is more ditch than path, and finding the trailhead while driving north can be daunting (or downright dangerous, given of the curvature of the road), but the walk up is fairly easy, and Backbone forms one leg of the classic WV-MD-PA highpointing trifecta.


The caretakers of Backbone have done an admirable job upgrading the signage and improving the summit site, which is somewhat spoiled by the close proximity of clearcutting on the Maryland side of the border. Still, the immediate summit area is nicely appointed with a picnic table, a sweet birdhouse, and a modest cairn. There is also an official Highpointers' mailbox containing the register and some swell certificates. Nothing beats highpointing swag!

As noted above, Backbone is one third of the WV-MD-PA highpointing trifecta, and I would assume that almost anyone who bothers to seek out one of these peaks will also be seeking out the other two and thus will likely do them at the same time and/or on a single trip. I've done it twice now, staying once in Pennsylvania and the other time in Maryland, at the Casselmann Inn, once a carriage house on the venerable National Turnpike. Make sure to partake of the hearty country breakfast there if you get the chance.

Both times I went up Backbone I admit to feeling a "spooky" vibe. The trailhead is somewhat difficult to locate, as I mentioned, and that always spooks me. It's doubly hard if you're driving north and trying not to run off the winding road. Southbound highpointers have the benefit of a nice (and relatively new) road sign that says "Maryland High Point," which kind of gives it away. Once you've found the trail, there's not much to the hike except a little huffing and puffing. Oh, and the No. 3 border marker: a stone obelisk stuck on a bleak and rocky outcrop that denotes the WV-MD border and somewhat resembles a grave: more spooky mojo.

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Dolley Shot: Backbone Witch Project

On my second trip to Backbone the cairn was decorated with a plastic crab figurine andwait for ita skull! Deer? Pig? Blair witch? Anyone with such knowledge can contact me and let me know. This is why, when it came time to edit my voluminous video footage, I chose the "soundtrack" I did. 

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