Hiking in Rocky Gap State Park: The Evitts Mountain Homesite Trail

Getting started along 243 acre Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park

Getting started along 243 acre Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park

I’ve been driving past Rocky Gap State Park 35-40 times a year for the past twenty years, but I’ve never stopped for anything more than a quick look.  I don’t golf or play the slots, and my swimming skills are mediocre at best.  Sometimes I slow down on I-68 just enough to notice the crowd in the parking lots.  After all, the park looks like it has a lot to offer, but I never imagined that hiking is on the list of things to do.

Crossing over the dam as Rocky Gap Run exits Lake Habeeb

Crossing over the dam as Rocky Gap Run exits Lake Habeeb

The idea of taking a hike at Rocky Gap started a few weeks ago when Candee and I took a hike to the Evitts Creek Aqueduct.  I wondered just who Mr. Evitt (or Evitts) was and later read that his name was actually Evart.  Nevertheless, the man became known as Evitt at some point, and the reputed first settler of European descent in Allegany County (early 1700s) would have a creek and mountain named after him.  Of course, that also carried over to an aqueduct and hiker/biker campsite on the C&O Canal.  The story is that Evart was an educated man who left society to become a hermit after a failed romance while he lived in Washington County.  It’s a great story, and the mark that Evart/Evitt left on place names has lasted well over 200 years.

Evitts Mountain Homesite Trail

Evitts Mountain Homesite Trail

As it turns out, the remains of Evart’s home are just off of the (sort of) aptly named Evitts Mountain Homesite Trail, about 2.4 miles (as the trail turns, not as the crow flies!) from the parking lot near the Touch of Nature Trail.  To get there from the lot, one can take a paved road to the Evitts Mountain trailhead or a roundabout way along the Touch of Nature,  Lakeside Loop, and Short Cut Trails.  The first option has a few more ups-and-downs as it crosses a steep canyon, while the latter is somewhat longer.

There isn't much left of the homesite, but the sign tells the rest of the story

There isn’t much left of the homesite, but the sign tells the rest of the story

It was our first time hiking in the park, so we opted to walk a short distance along the lake before heading up the mountain.  The highlights were a great view of the lodge and crossing a wooden bridge that spans the dam where Rocky Gap Run exits Lake Habeeb.  At .9 miles, one meets the Short Cut Trail, a connector to the Evitts Mountain Homesite Trail, and it’s virtually all uphill for the next 2.7 miles.

The beacon.  Wouldn't you know that my best pictures of the beacon also have the tip of my thumb in them.  So...I'm stuck with this one!

The beacon. Wouldn’t you know that my best pictures of the beacon also have the tip of my thumb in them. So…I’m stuck with this one!

The homesite is actually about two-thirds of the way up the mountain, but there are a number of reasons to hike the additional 1.2 miles to the gas line just beyond the Pennsylvania line.  First, there is an aviation beacon .3 miles prior to reaching the turnaround point.  Also, there is an old Mason-Dixon monument just to the left of the trail, as well as a great view on either side of the mountain from the gas line.

Rocky Gap State Park: Evitt's Mountain Trail

Rocky Gap State Park: Evitt’s Mountain Trail

The trail chart for today's hike at Rocky Gap State Park.  Note that each side of the chart mirrors the other because it was a return trip.

The trail chart for today’s hike at Rocky Gap State Park. Note that each side of the chart mirrors the other because it was a return trip.

The uphill section of the trail ascends roughly 1250′ at a grade of approximately 5.9%  No, its not an easy trail, but the climb isn’t overly taxing, and those who are in search of a little solitude leave the crowd down below to do their own thing(s).  I suppose you could say that Rocky Gap State Park has a little bit of something for everyone–the social butterflies who prefer the lodge and casino and the hermits who choose to pay a visit to Mr. Evart’s homesite.

View from the top!

View from the top!

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Bottle Art

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3 responses to this post.

  1. […] Creek and nearby Evitts Mountain are named after one of Allegany County’s earliest settlers.  It’s said that he went to […]

    Reply

  2. Posted by LevelWalker on August 17, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Candee,

    Good save on this post! The last two pictures are very good. I agree with what you said about using garbage as trail art. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend. It even looks ugly on a gas line.

    Reply

  3. […] « Hiking in Rocky Gap State Park: The Evitts Mountain Homesite Trail […]

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