Big Run State Park is a 300 acre state park in Garrett County, Maryland. The park is surrounded by Savage River State Forest, and rests at the mouth of the Savage River Reservoir. The park is accessible on New Germany Road from Interstate 68, Exit 24.
Big Run State Park contains a unique ecosystem consisting of diverse animals and plants. Different assortments of flowering plants and trees are admired throughout the seasons. Varieties of bird species and mammals are seen within the forested areas and fresh water fishes are spotted in rivers and creeks. The Savage River Reservoir is home to native brook trout and other lake dwellers.
Recreational activities in the park include boating, fishing, picknicking and camping. Trails through Savage River State Forest, such as The Monroe Trail, are accessible within Big Run. There are volunteering opportunities and positions available for those interested.
In 2007, operation of the Reservoir gates failed due to extensive corrosion. Around $3.9 million of Recovery Act funds were used to drain, repair and reopen the Reservoir dam in 2010. There has been a gradual recovery of what is now referred to as a "trophy area" for fishermen below the dam. Big Run has public facilities at the headwaters of the lake. In April 2009, Savage River Reservoir was named one of the top five Maryland Fishing Waters as well as one of the top 100 rivers by Trout Unlimited. Savage River below the dam is popular for canoeing competitions and is treasured for its clear water. The Savage River primarily flows into the Reservoir, providing fishing and paddling opportunities in a scenic, wilderness setting. Two boat launches located near the Reservoir dam provide convenient access. Fishermen can enjoy fishing for catfish, trout and bass. In 2008, a conducted population study resulted in the finding that there was an estimated 1,376 wild adult trout per mile in the river. The Reservoir holds the Rainbow Trout state record weighing in at 14 lbs. 3 oz. Savage River flows south to the Potomac River, where it drops 85 ft per mile. With this descent, it is favored by both fishermen and advanced paddlers. The Potomac River runs through Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, and eventually dumps into the Chesapeake Bay.
The climate in Big Run State Park is similar to mountain weather; cold winters accompanied by mild, humid summers. The park is located within the Western Appalachian Plateau, which gives rise to these colder temperatures. This type of weather guarantees great weather conditions for showshoeing during the winter, and breezy hiking days throughout the summer. The Savage River Reservoir rests in a canyon that experiences high winds, contributing to the weather changes.
Big Run has quite the variety of bird species that many park visitors are lucky enough to see and observe. Red-tailed hawk, broad-winged hawk,great-horned owl, screech owl, songbirds, indigo bunting and other forest interior dwellers can be spotted within Big Run. Black bear, bobcat, white-tailed deer and raccoon are just a few of the inhabiting mammals in the park. Depending on the season, grouse, great blue herons, minks and ducks may be seen along the Reservoir edge.
Oak,hickory and native hardwood trees are seen throughout the forests in the park. Trout lilies and spring beauties bloom in April, while rhododendrons, bee balm and cardinal flowers bloom in July. In the fall, visitors can observe changes in the appearance of the native hardwood trees. It is possible to catch glimpses of trilliums and pink lady slippers in the months of May and June.
Big Run State Park offers 29 primitive style campsites year round, each containing a picnic bench and a fire ring. Campsites 60 – 75 are wooded with stone dust camping pads, while campsites 78-90 are in an open grassy field. Big Run State Park also offers two group campsites, the Monroe Run pavilion and the youth group campsite. The Monroe Run Pavilion is a shelter that can accommodate up to 25 people and has three campsites attached to it. The pavilion is available by rental year round. The youth group campsite has a fire ring, picnic table, a central camping pad and a parking area along the road. This site can accommodate up to 40 youths and adults and is available by reservation. Picnic tables are available on a first come first serve basis. They are located in the park's day use area along Big Run Road at the Savage River Road intersection.
Big Run State Park is located on the north end of the Savage River Reservoir. The Reservoir is a popular location for non-motorized boating and fishing. At Big Run State Park there is a boat ramp between campsites 83 and 84. Only electric and non-motorized boats are permitted in the Reservoir. Fishing is allowed throughout the year except for a lake closure during the spring when trout stocking begins. A non-tidal fishing license is required. Fisherman may find walleye, largemouth bass, crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, suckers and trout.
The Monroe Trail is accessible through Big Run State Park and is strictly for hiking. However, there are numerous trails surrounding Big Run. Savage River State Forest has over 10 trails for multi-purpose use. The cold, snowy weather in the area is beneficial for those looking to snowshoe or snowmobile on these trails.
Volunteer opportunities are available within Big Run State Park. Volunteer Ranger positions can be applied for and filled after completing a few requirements. Ranger duties include: property maintenance, event and park assistance and answering questions about the park.
Volunteer projects discussed with the Volunteer Coordinator at New Germany State Park can be created to fit both the needs of the park and the skills of the volunteers. Volunteer Photography of the park is encouraged in order to expand the knowledge of the views and sites. These photos can be submitted to become part of the park media. Photography for this purpose requires an application and a short training course.
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