Eric and Matthew on the summit in 2007

Hoye Crest on Backbone Mountain, 3360ft

Dates climbed: June 2, 2007 12:03pm and Oct 24, 2010

Author: Matthew

Backbone Mountain is not one of those mountains that you just stumble across. It’s also not one of those mountains you find yourself at the top of unless you’re a dedicated high pointer. It doesn’t even have a real summit. But it is a state high point. And that’s why we needed to climb it.

I’ve actually had the privilege of climbing to the roof of the Old Line State twice, Eric has climbed it once. My first time was in summer of 2007. Eric and I were both going to work for NASA centers that summer: me at NASA Goddard in Maryland and Eric at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, CA. Eric found that it was actually cheaper to fly to CA from DC instead of from KY, so we all packed up the van and headed to Maryland. Along the way we decided to visit the roof of Maryland.

Backbone Mountain is one of the farthest points in Maryland from Washington, DC. It’s on the westernmost corner, tucked into the border with West Virginia. It’s located in a part of the state that few Marylanders see.

We pulled off Interstate-68 and headed south. We followed the directions we had printed off from Summit Post and arrived at a nondescript little gravel pull-off on the side of the road. I think there’s a small sign that read Backbone Mountain.

Our dad valiantly volunteered to stay behind at the van in order to guard the bikes on the bike rack while we climbed to the top. In retrospect I wish we had just locked the dang bikes up so our dad could have made it to the top with us.

After a 20-minute hike we were on top of a long ridge. Backbone Mountain has topography typical of mountains in that area of the country; it’s a long smooth ridge that stretches 40 miles from SW to NE from WV to MD. Once we were on the ridge we followed markers to Hoye Crest, a local maximum on the ridge that happens to be in Maryland. We couldn’t be sure, but it sure seemed to us that there were higher points on the ridge.

Matthew, Amanda and her mom on the summit in 2010

The summit is marked by a really nice plaque and a huge cairn. You can actually see in the two pictures how the cairn has grown between 2007 (top) and 2010 (bottom). We dutifully added a couple more rocks to the top.

I hiked with Amanda and her mom on my second ascent of Backbone Mountain. We were driving back from Seneca Rocks and decided to stop by. In the summit register notebook at the top Amanda sketched an awesome panorama of the valley below. Now Amanda and her mom have climbed their third high point (WV, NH, MD).

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