Discover Western Maryland: Healthy Living

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maryland active adult 55 communitites mdA rural landscape of rolling hills gives way to dramatic mountainous terrain as travelers head west. Suburban sprawl is left behind. Visitors find historic sites alongside thriving towns. Accessing this unique region will not require a plane ticket, or even a long bus trip. A simple drive to Western Maryland will suffice.

Western Maryland is comprised of Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties. As travelers move through the counties on their way westward, the picturesque landscapes of Frederick and Washington counties, both still part of the metro area, give way to the rural retreats found in Allegany and Garrett counties.

Frederick County
Welcome to Western Maryland
From developing cities to stimulating historical sites, Frederick County offers a striking first impression of Western Maryland. The county seat, Frederick, is Maryland’s second largest city. Downtown Frederick includes an astonishing 50-block historic district with hundreds of antique and specialty shops.

Beyond the city of Frederick, travelers will find much to enjoy in the county’s diverse regions. The Catoctin Mountains in northern Frederick County are home to three major parks, a 78-foot waterfall, and countless orchards. The Historic National Road, known as the “road that built the nation,” runs through the eastern portion of the county on its journey west. The importance of transportation history is further demonstrated in the southwestern region along the towpath of the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal. At South Mountain State Battlefield, history buffs of another breed can follow in the footsteps of famous Civil War generals.

Washington County
Journey Back in Time
The Historic National Road and the C&O Canal continue westward through Washington County, which abounds with Civil War sites and thriving towns. During the Civil War, Hagerstown became a strategic staging area for military leaders because of its location. Sharpsburg, a quiet rural community in southern Washington County, is surrounded by the Antietam Battlefield. The town, still populated largely by direct descendents of the survivors from that battle, is a testament to the human will to rebuild.

History is not all that Washington County has to offer. Hagerstown is thriving and is now home to several museums and a wide array of shopping and dining options. The ten county parks, The Appalachian Trail, The Western Maryland Rail Trail, and the C&O towpath are all great options for the avid outdoorsman and the Sunday stroller. The area’s five golf courses include a nine-hole municipal course, a championship course, and a spectacular public course.

Allegany County
Head to the Mountains
Commonly known as the “Mountain Side of Maryland,” Allegany County is a gateway into a recreational paradise. 60,000 acres of preserved public lands and a number of impressive parks are scattered throughout the county.

Dans Mountain State Park offers panoramic views from elevations of nearly 3,000 feet. Lazy floats down the Potomac River and challenging mountain biking trails beckon visitors to Green Ridge State Forest. Rocky Gap State Park is home to 243-acre Lake Habeeb and the renowned Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort.

Whether via water, rail, or road, travelers passed through Allegany County during the great westward migration. Today, the National Road, the Canal Place Heritage Area, and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad pay tribute to this rich history. Steam and diesel powered excursions on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad take passengers on a 32-mile journey from Cumberland to Frostburg.

Garrett County
Go Deep in the Country
Home to Maryland’s largest lake, highest mountain, largest state forest, and only alpine ski resort, Garret County is the crowning glory of Western Maryland. Visits to the County’s biggest and best will keep travelers busy.

Garrett County is home to several state forests and parks, including Savage River State Forest, the largest in Maryland. Deep Creek Lake, a 3,900-acre freshwater lake, is the state’s largest manmade lake and one of the region’s most popular vacation and recreation destinations. Nearby Wisp Resort is the state’s only recognized alpine ski resort. 3,360 feet Backbone Mountain, the highest mountain in the region and the state, completes the impressive list of bests.

A Westward Movement
With unique topography and a remarkable sense of history, the counties that make up Western Maryland offer a lifestyle that cannot be duplicated. The region’s many charms allow it to draw visitors, retain residents, and encourage relocation.

Retirees, long-time residents, and other transplants will enjoy a region replete with historical significance and wide open spaces. The frontier may be long since tamed, but the desire to “Head West” remains strong-and that applies to a much wider audience than “Young Man.”

Local Resources

Allegany County Area Agency on Aging
Acts as an advocate on behalf of seniors and their families and works with other organizations to expand opportunities for older persons in the county.
Phone: 301-777-5970

Allegany College of Maryland
Offers courses specifically for seniors through their continuing education program. Tuition waivers are available to state residents over age 60 for specific courses.
Phone: 301-784-5000<
Website: www.ac.cc.md.us/acce.htm/community/seniorlist.html

Frederick Community College Institute for Learning in Retirement
Offers classes designed by and for adults age 55 over. Topics range from art and music to philosophy and political science.
Phone: 301-624-2732
Website: www.frederick.edu/programCourses/ILR/index.cfm?documentid=242

Frederick County Department of Aging
Develops and administers programs and activities to support county senior citizens. Programs include provision of information, legal assistance, congregate meals, senior centers, and various other services for seniors and their family members.
Phone: 301-694-1605
Website: www.co.frederick.md.us/doa

Garret County Area Agency on Aging
Provides vital services for the county’s senior population and their families. Services include information and assistance, help with long term care options, and in-home care. The agency also operates senior centers and meal sites throughout the county.
Phone: 301-334-9431, Ext. 138
Website: www.garrettcac.org

Hagerstown Community College Center for Continuing Education
Includes a wide variety of course offerings. Art, writing, and other courses are available, in addition to cultural and historical learning trips.
Phone: 301-790-2800, Ext. 582
Website: www.hcc.cc.md.us/coned/fall2005-2/lifelong/index.php

Washington County Commission on Aging, Inc.
Provides information and referrals, friendly visitation, legal services, nutrition services, and a variety of other services. The commission also operates seventeen senior clubs throughout the county.
Phone: 301-790-0275
Website: www.wccoaging.org

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