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  1. #1

    Newbie hanging locations in or near Maryland?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm a relative newbie to hammock camping (heck, to camping in general, unless you count a trailer) and I'm excited to have found these forums. Such a wealth of information here! I've spent several nights over the years camping in old-style army jungle hammocks, and always liked them better than tents.

    Now that I'm married, my wife and I would like to get into camping more. She has some back problems, and I thought hammocking might be an ideal choice for her. I've got a Hennessy Expedition A-sym on the way for her to try out.

    The trouble is, I'm not really sure where to camp. Most of my camping experiences have been in national park and state park campsites. By reading through the forums, it seems to be that state parks in my state (Maryland) won't allow hammocks attached to trees. I understand that a large number of people in these forums use their hammocks on hiking trips such as the AT, where the state park restrictions don't apply or don't matter. This sounds great to me, but the gear we have is really not packable, and my wife's back issues would prevent any hike more than a few miles, especially if we had to pack in much. I'm reticent to spend a lot of money on light, packable gear, since I'm not sure whether the whole camping thing will end up flying with my wife.

    Does anyone have ideas for places that we might hang, in Maryland, Virginia or Pennsylvania, that wouldn't require us to pack in our car-camping gear a long distance? Do Virginia and Pennsylvania have the same hanging restrictions as Maryland? I'm thinking car camping might be best for us to start with, especially as we work out our gear. If I'm trying to convince my wife to go camping with me, I'd like to make it as much fun as possible for her the first few times.

    As a second prong of attack, I'm also thinking my way through the design of some DIY hammock stands that might be car-camping appropriate for parks unfriendly to hammockers.

    Thanks for any ideas, and for these forums.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Here in PA there are a variety of options. State Parks vary depending on who the head ranger is. Some ore pretty good. Some are plain doofuses.

    There are numerous car accessible options in PA that are free. however they all have one thing in common that might be a bigger hurdle for you sife to get over. They are generally not equipped with a privy. There are some ways around that if it becomes a problem. That's one of the reasons my wife won't camp with me. Go figure.

    There are a variety of stand plans around the forums which would break down far enough to fit in a pickup. That way you can have the developed sites and the hammocks no matter what conditions you meet at the campground. If you can hang from trees great if not break out the stands.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinrev View Post
    Here in PA there are a variety of options. State Parks vary depending on who the head ranger is. Some ore pretty good. Some are plain doofuses.

    There are numerous car accessible options in PA that are free. however they all have one thing in common that might be a bigger hurdle for you sife to get over. They are generally not equipped with a privy. There are some ways around that if it becomes a problem. That's one of the reasons my wife won't camp with me. Go figure.

    There are a variety of stand plans around the forums which would break down far enough to fit in a pickup. That way you can have the developed sites and the hammocks no matter what conditions you meet at the campground. If you can hang from trees great if not break out the stands.
    Thanks for the reply. Would you be willing to name any particular parks in PA where you've had good experiences, or do you recommend that we pick one and try our luck?

    How might one go about locating these free camping options of which you speak? My wife's pretty tough - she might have a good time even without a privvy.

    I'm thinking of putting together either a bipod or single-staff sort of stand, along the lines of the many great designs on the forums. I think I should be able to do something with only a few posts that I can strap to the top of our CRV. Some of my calculations are posted here.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    You're about three hours from me, I'd invite you up and show you some of the places in Central PA. That's about as far afield as I can get given our transportation issues. You are more than welcome to make the trip if you want.

    www.dcnr.state.pa.us will link you to the state forest system in PA. The state forests have camping areas that accessible by car but the policies differ from one forest to another. Usually you need a permit to camp from a vehicle or to spend more than one night if traveling by foot. Each forestry district should be able to give you the availability and policies if you request them. Up here in the center of the state they are usually pretty good about responding by e-mail. I don;t know if the same is true for the southern districts or not.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  5. #5
    Dutch's Avatar
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    There really isn't any place i won't hang a hammock in the PA/MD area. The only place that I know of that doesn't allow hammocks is the C&O canal trail and I would still hang there although getting out of site may be more difficult. The trails in SE PA tend to be invaded by suburbia and don't allow any camping. But once you get a little north of the PA turnpike or west of the susquehanna I think you are fine. You mentioned the AT, but act as if you have to hike 20 miles just to camp on it. Just go to the trailhead and set up one mile in. There are often campsites near the road crossings and the beauty of the hammock is that you don't need a campsite, just trees. If you are uncomfortable with not being sure of the rules ( and the rules are often not defined or spelled out very well) then set up late or just out of site of the trail. I think the rules of not tying to the trees is for washlines that don't get removed and when people put nails and eyebolts in the trees. When a Ranger sees someone treating the forest with respect and not abusing it in any way they are just more curious then combative. It is easy to point out that a hammock with treehuggers is better then a tent and doesn't disturb or expand the site. I rarely see rangers at all and every encounter i have had with them has been positive. They are just like you and would you harass someone enjoying the forest for its intended purpose or would you be worried about those teenagers with a bonfire and beer.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Downhill Trucker's Avatar
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    The AT in MD has several great places near the road. The Ensign Cowall Shelter by Smithsburg, MD is fantastic and less than a half mile from the road. There are sites all around the shelter that are great for hanging and firepits there as well. Crampton Gap shelter is another great option near Gathland State Park.

    Stealth camping is always an option and is much easier with a hammock. If someone catches you, just play dumb. As long as you leave no trace, what real harm is there anyway? I always pack out trash and in the few times I've been somewhere I shouldn't have been, the ranger notices this and lets me off. With my current camo-hammock-stealth setup I hang places I clearly shouldnt be in the first place.

    I would try the AT first though because it is completely legal. Annapolis Rocks is another great site with a phenomenol view but no fires are allowed there. All of the AT sites can be found easily with PATC maps or go to backpacker magazines website... they have a mile by mile account of the AT. Shenandoah NP in VA is great but a little farther. Many, many side trails and the AT afford good access and you can camp just about anywhere in that park.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bug-Bait's Avatar
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    Hi Speex...a bunch of us gather twice a year above the shelter at Crampton Gap to do the Mid-Atlantic Hammock Hanger's Association (MAHHA) hang. It's a low key, fun event. We are trying to firm up the dates as we speak and will post them soon. Why don't you join us....you, too Downhill Trucker.

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