Where can I find a quiet, no rules place to camp in Northern MD or southern DE?
September 19, 2011 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Help me think outside the box for tent camping in Northern MD or DE - where can I go besides a campground or sites in a Sate Park? I don't want suburbia in the woods!

I'm planning a one-night camping trip with about 6-10 young professionals (25-38) in October looking to get away from Washington DC for the night and go apple picking. I'm familiar with a great orchard in Elkton, MD, and so we'd like to hit that up on Sunday, and camp somewhere in the general area Saturday night.

The problem I'm running into is that the state parks closest (Elk Neck in MD and Lums Pond DE) are getting horrible reviews all over about how the sites offer no privacy, and there are strict no-alcohol rules. Others I've looked into include KOA's and RV parks, but the same problems of space, privacy, and too many rules exist.

We're going to have at least 2 tents, and it would be great to have a bathroom, but I'm willing to forgo even the small convenience of bathroom facilities for some peace and quiet, and the ability to have a few adult drinks. We're not planning a kegger, we just want out of the city!

I know there has to be another resource for campers like me, maybe hikers know of someplace? Where can we go camping?
posted by Kindlekat to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder if the orchard owner would let you stay on his land for a small contribution and the offer of a short but official waiver of any liability on his part, your guarantee to remove all garbage, etc..?
posted by argonauta at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2011

If it doesn't have to be Elkton and you don't mind hiking (not sure how many conveniences you plan on bringing into the wilderness), you could always head to western Maryland and hike to a shelter or campsite on the Appalachian Trail. You can probably look at the official guidebook without having to buy it at your local REI or some such outfitter. There are orchards out there. Maybe you can find a shelter or campsite that's not far from a road or parking area.
posted by SixteenTons at 2:56 PM on September 19, 2011

And yes, private landowners are also a good option--look at maps or drive around and find a likely location, then find out who owns the land and contact them. If you're nice and don't look like a meth head or a serial killer, they might say yes.
posted by SixteenTons at 2:57 PM on September 19, 2011

My old meditation group goes to Charter Hall in Perryville several times a year, and there are always additional small groups camping on the property. Sorry no link from my phone but it's easily googlable. It's run by a christian org but they're 100% hands-off. Bonus boathouse w/canoes/kayaks and it's right at the juncture of the Susquehanna and the bay.
posted by headnsouth at 4:27 PM on September 19, 2011

Another idea is go to Butler's Orchard in Germantown for the apple picking and then either camp at Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, MD (apparently you can get a permit to have alcohol from the park superintendent) or, like SixteenTons suggested, head to the Appalachian Trail. If you don't mind a hike, you can park at Gathland State Park and hike towards Weverton Cliffs (great view of Harpers Ferry) and stay at the lavish Ed Garvey Shelter. It's an easy hike; the description below says it's 4 miles and the shelter is worth the trip.

Catoctin Park: http://www.nps.gov/cato/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

Gathland SP to Weverton Cliffs: http://www.midatlantichikes.com/id170.html
posted by Allez at 6:14 PM on September 19, 2011

I'm not familiar with it, but Blackbird State Forest in Delaware is in that vicinity-ish and has 5 primitive campsites on a first-come, first-serve basis.
posted by drlith at 6:37 PM on September 19, 2011

Wow, great ideas! Keep em coming! Thanks to everyone who's answered so far, I really appreciate it.

I'm also going to check out AAA and see if they know of anything, but I hadn't thought of asking private land owners....
posted by Kindlekat at 7:30 AM on September 20, 2011

So it turns out that anywhere in MD was not a good option. What I ended up doing was going to Killens Pond in DE, which is a State Park. They have "primitive campsites" away from the other campsites which were just great. I reserved two right next to eachother which ended up being some of the most secluded ones there (perfect for a sold-out night in the campground). "Primitive" means that they only allow tents to camp there - perfect for me because that means no noisy generators from RVs, or too many bright lights.

It ended up being a great trip, and worth the trek out there. Thanks for all the suggestions! We'll definitely be going back there in the spring!
posted by Kindlekat at 1:21 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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