Bald Mountain Trail [FS 500E] in the St. Mary's Wilderness
Length: 2.2 miles, one way
This wonderfully isolated hike passes through the St. Mary's Wilderness Area. It receives very little traffic, so there is a good possibility of not seeing anyone for the full distance. Also, being in the wilderness area, you can camp here. The trailhead is located on FSR 162 (near Bald Mountain Overlook, mile 22). This road may be gated and therefore have to be walked. About .75 mile up the road are two horizontal yellow blazes. A sign on the left side of the road identifies the trail.
.0 Begin by entering the wilderness area and gradually descend.
.4 An open place in the vegetation offers the first view.
.5 Switch back to the right and enter the head of a valley. This isolated spot seems far away from the BRP and virtually undiscovered. Hemlock thickly lines the creek, which you will cross and then parallel on a rocky, descending pathway.
6 Cross the creek again as the valley begins to open up.
.7 Cross the creek once more and continue to descend through a thick growth of rhododendron.
1 At a pleasant campsite, leave the creek and begin the ascent on an old roadbed.
1.3 Pass through a hemlock tunnel and over a water run. Enter a different world as the rhododendron gives way to a very open forest floor.
1.5 Reach a ridge line; continue to ascend, but at a gentler pace.
1 .9 Be alert! At the double blazes the trail leaves the old road and makes an abrupt right turn onto a pathway lined with azaleas and sassafras.
2.2 Intersect the Mine Bank Trail and turn left; walk 300 feet to reach the BRP across from the Fork Mountain Overlook, BRP mile 23. (The Mine Bank Trail [FS 500C] drops for 2 miles to reach St. Mary's Trail [FS 500] in the wilderness area.)