Not even 10 miles from the National Road in Grantsville, Md., is a pretty cool natural landmark – Mt. Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania at just over 3,200 feet. I was pretty surprised I had never made a detour to the mountain, despite traveling just south of the area so frequently.
Due to the mountain being west of the Allegheny Front, it’s prominence isn’t really all that great compared to other summits. However, there’s still some pretty commanding views of the surrounding area from the mountain’s observation tower.
The observation tower and the high-point are just north of Springs, Pa., and just west of Salisbury, Pa. The mountain is surrounded by rural roads that form a rough loop around the mountain. There are two ways to get to the observation tower: a one-mile trail from a large picnic area (which I inadvertently took), or from a parking lot almost adjacent to the tower.
At the summit itself, a natural wind effect has resulted in a series of large boulders arranged in a ring. Plaques providing information about the mountain and local geology have been affixed to many of the boulders. The high point itself – marked by a USGS disk – is on a boulder near the observation tower (hint: look for a boulder that comes to a point at its top).
I’ve always found making to the top of a state high point to be a unique experience. Additionally, south-central Somerset County is tied very closely with its neighbors right below the Mason-Dixon Line in Grantsville. The small community of Springs hosts the annual Springs Folk Festival, and is also closely tied with Penn Alps and the Spruce Forest Artisan Village.
Based on my getting turned around several times during my visit to Mt. Davis, I feel that the best way to get to the mountain from U.S. 40 is via Md.-669 in Grantsville, which becomes Pa.-669 at the state line. Just north of Springs, make a sharp left onto Savage Road. Take Savage Road for about three miles until taking a right on Mt. Davis Road. Signs will direct you to the observation tower and picnic area. Of course, there are a number of ways to get to Mt. Davis, some of which may be more direct than the aforementioned. I’ve gathered that the route is better marked coming from the north than the south.
Because Mt. Davis is part of Forbes State Forest, backpack camping is permitted almost anywhere, with setback restrictions, and there are no fees to use the land.