Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, The 4hr. Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.
One of the great things about the English language is how we get to use the same word in different ways. “Remote,” a word that’s been exhaustively overused during the pandemic, can hold us a bit hostage when it references our need to work remotely, for example, because of lockdowns. But, “remote” as in “I’m wandering through the woods in a remote state park” or “I’m stoking a fire in my remote cabin” or “I’m going to be so off-the-grid and remote that you won’t be able to get in touch with me” can make your tight shoulders loosen and your headache subside. For those who live in an urban or suburban setting where wailing sirens and honking horns are the soundtrack of our lives, remote can be a gift.
New Germany State Park is the perfect place to throw around the word remote. And if you do, it’s likely no one will hear you hear you anyway, other than the people with whom you’ve gone remote. With West Virginia to the west, the Mason-Dixon line and the state of Pennsylvania to the north and the Potomac River to the south, this enclave is less than 3.5 hours from DC (and an even shorter drive if you’re taking off from the suburbs). New Germany calls itself a “best kept secret” because that’s what visitors to this northwest Maryland state park have dubbed it. Tucked between Big Savage Mountain and the Continental Divide, in the 1940s and 1950s it earned the title “The Maryland Alps.”
New Germany State Park is the kind of place you can go to with absolutely no agenda. Wander through the park’s 10 miles of hemlock forest and breathe in the scent of leaf-covered trails, or rent snowshoes or cross-country skis in the winter and hit the groomed trails. In the warmer months, there’s a lake for swimming and paddling and streams for catch-and-release fishing. If wandering aimlessly isn’t your thing, you can join one of the park’s ranger-led programs, including bird-watching adventures and late-night full moon hikes.
While you can make your getaway a day trip, to feel the full impact of New Germany’s best-kept-secretness, you need to stay over for at least one night in one of the park’s 12 cabins (just under $100 per night). With kitchens and fully furnished, each cabin also has a wood-burning fireplace. Bring your groceries and your own linens and hunker down for a night in front of the fire. Chopped wood is provided. Or sit on a rocking chair on the porch with a glass of wine and binge-watch nature. “The cabins are extremely popular and guests are booking a year in advance,” says park manager Erin Thomas. “If you have a timeframe in mind, I would book as soon as possible.”
You can book online or by phone (888-432-2267). A few of the cabins are even dog-friendly if your urban dogs also need a wifi-less vacation.
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