Great if you’re looking for a quick escape from DC and with a lot of activities—paddling, hiking, and a 5 minute drive from Meadowood for mountain biking. I camped at the non-electric area and it was nice to play some disc golf across the street before dark. The hiking is nice—15 minutes on the trail to get to the water—and a quick walk to the marina/boat rentals.
Campsites are well-equipped, but depending on which you will not have privacy and/or enough flat space for more than 1 tent. Most sites are right next to each other and no trees or other natural separation, and some saw did not have much space for tents. I had 141 which was good; 138 was the best that I saw; and if you want to get 2 for a bigger group try to get 112/113.
Pretty standard campground—the perks are it’s location to nearby attractions and the river/creek. It depends on what you’re looking for—easy camping and proximity to Antietam and Harper’s? Golden. Especially if you want to camp but also do site seeing and/or paddling in the area.
Isolation and solitude, as well as good “car camping?” Not so much. The main problem here is that the campground itself is just one big field along the canal towpath, so you have no privacy from other campers. It’s also a weird setup with respect to parking—as you have to park on the opposite side of the canal and walk to your campsite. If you got one close to the bridge over the canal then you’re 100ft from the car, but if not then it could be a little bit of a walk. Not the end of the world, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into!
That said, enjoyed the experience here, but wouldn’t seek it out specifically unless looking for camping in this general area.
This campground is a real gem—conveniently located in WMNF but also seems very secluded and isolated in the mountains when you’re there. Russell Pond is beautiful. A few things to know—many of the campsites are first come first serve, including the best ones by the pond which are also walk-up only. We had a reservation but arrived on a slow day, and we ended up changing our site to H3 which is one of the best in the whole place—adjacent to the lake with a small private beach for swimming. All of the H sites are great but a few are 5-star. The only problem with this system is that we had to cancel our online reservation and pay cash for the new site—so we lost one night’s rate plus the $10 cancellation fee. I’m not sure there’s a way to fix this, but they should figure out a way to more effectively manage folks who want to move around. Another thing is that apparently the forest service doesn’t want to commercialize the pond, so you can’t rent canoes/kayaks on site, which would be a great perk.
9 sites first-come, first-served, and free. Wolf Gap is great—the campsites are high quality and well-maintained. There’s overflow camping across the road, which is good since this campground usually fills up on good weekends. The hiking around here is first rate—Big Schloss offers one of the most unique views in the region!
Green Ridge is the place to go if you’re looking for a rugged, isolated forest. It has 100 primitive drive-up campsites (fire ring and picnic table, no facilities), and countless more “overflow” sites with a fire ring if it happens to be full when you arrive. For me this is the place to go for car camping—bear in mind that some of the back roads are pretty rough so you’ll ideally want a car with decent clearance. There is also backcountry camping with a few shelters on the trails. Camping is $10 per night–if you show up when the ranger station is open the nice folks there will give you a site. They’re pretty knowledgeable and can help you find something that will best suit what you’re looking for. I think there’s self registration if you arrive after hours.
COVID update: in May, and from what I’ve heard since, the ranger station is closed and it’s first come first served throughout the forest. More or less a free for all from my experience in May—you will definitely need a good map with the numbered campsites and suggest downloading offline navigation to your phone.
Photos—campsite #53; overflow site near site #19; backcountry shelter on pine lick trail.