Open to the Public
Take a self-guided audio tour of the preserve View All
Why You Should Visit
Originating from the southwestern mountains of Pennsylvania, Sideling Hill Creek tumbles its way down the steep, forested, shale cliffs of western Maryland before it finally spills into the Potomac River. The preserve has several trails so visitors can explore the variety of species and natural communities that exist at Sideling Hill Creek Preserve. Admission is free.
- View our complete Preserve Guidelines. Please note: dogs are not allowed at any Conservancy preserve.
Two hour drive from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., past the Sideling Hill Creek Interpretive Center.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Sideling Hill Creek is one of the most pristine streams in Maryland, which helps support the globally-rare harperella population. In addition, the occurrence of the rare shale barren communities prioritizes this site as a focus for the Maryland/D.C. Chapter's efforts.
What the Conservancy Is Doing Here
- 704 acres purchased or under easement by The Nature Conservancy since 1992
- Annual trail spring cleaning in late April
- Studying and monitoring the shale barren communities
- Leasing hayfields to local farmers to demonstrate compatible agricultural practices
- In 1998, 40 volunteers restored 3 acres of stream buffer with 1,200 native tree saplings
- Preventing sedimentation of stream
- Removing non-native weeds on the shale barren - volunteers welcome!
- Monitoring the stream for sediment, pollutants and excess nutrient runoff
What to See: Plants
- The world's healthiest population of the globally-rare aquatic wildflower, harperella.
- Twelve rare, endemic (occurring only on the shale barrens and nowhere else) plants including the nationally-endangered evening primrose, shale ragwort, and Kate's mountain clover.
What to See: Animals
- Olympian marble butterfly, green floater mussel, tiger beetle
- Wild turkey, hawks, and bobcat.
Download an Audio Tour
Planning a visit to Sideling Hill Creek? Before your trip, download our self-guided audio tour to your handheld device. It's like having a naturalist in your pocket!
During your audio tour, the Conservancy's Donnell Keech, Allegany Forests project director, takes hikers around the trail to see shale barrens, experience native forest types, and forge the stream - if you dare!
- Step 1: Download the Sideline Hill Creek audio tour map. This map will help identify which audio tracks to play based on your location on the trail, so make sure to take a copy with you on your trip.
- Step 2: Download and save the mp3 audio files to your handheld device. Play the corresponding track when you reach a waypoint along the trail. Listen to them all or pick & choose based on your interests! Need a little help saving the files? Check out our step-by-step guide!
- Trail Head
- About Sideling Hill Creek
- Across the Street - Creek Side
- Sideling Hill Creek Watershed
- First of Many Hills
- The Bend
- Mitnick Memorial Statue
- Box Turtle
- Ephemeral Stream
- Lowland Footbridge over Oxbow
- End of Loop Trail
- Yonker Tract Conservation Easement
- Sideling Hill Creek Ford
- Feeling Adventurous - Crossing the Creek
(All files are .mp3 and should download automatically once clicked. If you have trouble downloading, right-click each file and then select "Save")
- From Washington's Capital Beltway (I-495), take I-270 North. Take I-70 West:
- From Baltimore (I-695), take I-70 West:
- Follow I-70 West from Frederick to Hancock. Take I-68 West towards Cumberland. Exit I-68 at High Germany Road. Turn right at the stop sign. You'll cross Sideling Hill Creek after just a couple hundred feet (bridge is inconspicuous). Immediately after crossing the creek, take a sharp right (back-angle) down dirt lane to edge of hay field. Park in the fenced parking area. Please do not block access to dirt lane across the field