At a Glance
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Tips: The main access to the cross-country trail is from a footpath that runs along the west side of the Glendening Recreation Complex athletic fields; a sign on the paved path at the west edge of Fields 3 and 5 marks the entrance to the trail. ◾ There are other access points as well, including one near the northwest corner of Field 7. The playing fields are numbered and labelled on the GoogleMap and there are numbered signs at the fields. ◾ The Cross Country Trails are natural surface – mown grass or dirt. Trails may be wet or muddy in spots and there are exposed rocks and roots. Wear sturdy waterproof hiking boots or shoes. ◾ The Cross Country Trail is used for interscholastic cross-country running competitions and for team practices and may be in use for an event. ◾ Although there is no hunting in the Glendening Recreation Complex or on the Cross Country Trail system, there may be hunting on adjacent private lands. Be aware of hunting seasons and consider wearing blaze orange during deer season. ◾ Ample parking and restrooms are available at the adjacent Glendening Recreation Complex.
Best Seasons: Year-round. Try to visit in early morning when use by cross-country teams is less likely.
Breeding Bird Atlas Blocks: Frostburg CW and Frostburg CE
Local MOS Chapter: Allegany-Garrett Counties Bird Club
Frostburg Cross Country Trail
Adjacent to Glendening Recreation Complex
Shaw Street & Rynex Avenue, Frostburg, MD, 21532
So, let’s say you’re in the Frostburg area and you’ve birded all the big state forests and parks and hunting areas and preserves, and maybe you’re tired of driving the twisty mountain roads and hiking up and down the mountain trails. Consider a visit to the Frostburg Cross Country Trail, adjacent to the Governor Parris N. Glendening Recreation Complex at the west end of the city of Frostburg. The Glendening Recreation Complex itself is mostly short-mown athletic fields, but the Cross Country Trail is tucked into a wooded area to the west of the main park, and walking through a band of trees into the Cross Country Trail area is like stepping into the Emerald City in the classic Wizard of Oz movie. Suddenly everything is in technicolor.
In this case, you’ll be going from the relatively sterile environment of mown-grass playing fields into a vibrant habitat with mid-succession scrub-shrub fields and early successional fields, ringed by mature deciduous woods and a belt of towering old conifers. An adjacent small cattail marsh and two streams add extra variety. But catch this bonanza while you can: without regular mowing, the successional fields will eventual mature into young forests, and it is not known if mowing is in the maintenance plan for the area.
As the name implies, the Frostburg Cross Country Trail is used for cross-country running team practice and competition. Although open to the public, the land is privately owned by a former coal mining company and generously made available for public use. The Cross Country Trail area occupies about 50 acres adjacent to the 27 acres of the Glendening Recreation Complex.
The main access to the cross-country trail is from a footpath that runs along the west side of the Glendening Recreation Complex athletic fields; a sign along the paved walking path that runs along the west side of Fields 3 and 5 marks the entrance to the Cross Country Trail area. A small natural surface path will lead you through a band of woods and across a foot-bridge over a small stream, Sand Spring Run. Soon you will emerge into a long narrow shrub-scrub field, with growth about head-high as of this writing in fall 2021. The field is circled by a mown-grass trail with a couple of side trails that cut across it. At the far west end of this field, set against a backdrop of tall conifers, a trail leads southwest and then turns to the southeast to circle a separate field in an earlier stage of successional growth, mostly grassy with scattered shrubs and forbs and some small saplings.
Also from the far west end of the field, there is another trail that runs northeast and this one will take you past the lower end of a marsh area and through a patch of deciduous woods, to eventually emerge at a large mown field that contains a dirt track used by by cross country runners as well as by motorized dirt bikes. The hedgerows and wooded edges of the large mown field hold good habitat. This area is just west of athletic field #7.
A simple plan is to follow the route for 5K cross-country runs, which will allow you to sample all the available habitats along the trail and will maximize your opportunity to see a diversity of birds. The main cross county route is marked in orange on the trail map at the link at left, but you’ll see from the satellite image that there are many side trails to explore. You’ll also find a map of the cross country running route posted by the side of the foot-path that enters the cross country area.
If the 5K would be too long a walk, use any of the trail connections to make a loop that is a shorter length to your liking. All of the trails are natural surface, consisting of mown grass or dirt, and there are exposed rocks and roots in some spots. Parts of the trails may be muddy, wet, or rutted, especially where there has been illicit ATV use. The terrain is mainly level with an almost imperceptible rise in grade as one heads west or north. The walking is generally very easy.
If you have mobility issues and need to stay on a solid surface, consider birding around the main part of the Glendening Recreation Complex, which is ringed by a walking path. Some sections are paved but most of it is crushed stone, very firmly packed, with a paved-like surface. The walking trail is wheelchair-accessible and provides access to the wooded edges of the park.
There are two small fishing ponds, Cotton Cove Pond near the north end of the Glendening Recreation Complex and an unnamed pond near the south end, which can be worth checking if you’re there at a quiet time when no other people are around to scare the potential waterbirds. The south pond has a handicapped-accessible fishing platform which, of course, provides a good vantage point for birding. At Cotton Cove Pond, a footbridge near the south edge leads over the outlet of the pond and gives great views of a small cattail marsh. Just to the west of the pond, there is a small stone-lined waterway that carried water to the pond from the outer edge of Glendening Field 7, and this waterway has some sparse plants along it that seem to be favored by songbirds, so check it carefully.
There is ample parking at the Glendening Recreation Complex, and there are portable restrooms near some of the playing fields, as well as a permanent restroom building at the east edge of Fields 5 and 6; there is also a large playground in the Fields 5/6 area. Benches and picnic tables are scattered about, and there is a covered picnic pavilion near the northeast corner of the park. All these amenities make this a good birding location for families with children.
As of fall 2021, the eBird hotspot for the Frostburg Cross Country Trail lists 127 species with 40 checklists, all reported since spring of 2020.
Notable breeding season (June-July) birds include: Chimney Swift; Ruby-throated Hummingbird; Killdeer; Broad-winged Hawk; American Kestrel; Eastern Wood-Pewee; Eastern Phoebe; Red-eyed Vireo; Common Raven; Black-capped Chickadee; Northern Rough-winged Swallow; Tree Swallow; Barn Swallow; White-breasted Nuthatch; House Wren; Carolina Wren; Gray Catbird; Brown Thrasher; Eastern Bluebird; Wood Thrush; Cedar Waxwing; Chipping Sparrow; Field Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Eastern Towhee; Black-and-white Warbler; Common Yellowthroat; American Redstart; and Indigo Bunting. This is only a partial list, and some of these birds may be present year-round; see eBird for more details.
Reported migrants (fall and/or spring) are: Spotted Sandpiper; Green Heron; Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks; Red-tailed Hawk; Ovenbird; Northern Waterhtrush, Blue-winged, Nashville, Hooded, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Palm, Yellow-rumped, and Black-throated Green Warblers.
There are very few winter reports on eBird for the Cross Country Trail, and so our knowledge of wintering and year-round birds is incomplete. Based on presence in the late fall, expected wintering birds would include Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers; Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets; Red-breasted Nuthatch; White-throated and Swamp Sparrows; Rusty Blackbird; and no doubt others..
The Cross Country Trail is not wheelchair-accessible, but the adjacent Glendening Recreation Complex is circled by a walking trail, in part paved with asphalt and in part packed stone dust; the entire trail is wheelchair-accessible and gives access to good birding along the edges of the woods on the west side of the Recreation Area, as well as to a bridge that provides viewing of a small cattail marsh at the outlet of the north pond (Cotton Cove Pond) and to a wheelchair-accessible fishing platform at the south pond. There are reserved handicapped parking spaces in the parking lots and there are wheelchair accessible restrooms.
The local chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society is the Allegany-Garrett Counties Bird Club, offering field trips and meetings with informative programs, all free and open to the public.
There is ample parking in several designated lots located throughout the Glendening Recreation Complex; see trail map at link at left. The lots are paved or gravel.
The Frostburg Cross Country Trail and the Glendening Recreation Complex are located at the west end of Frostburg, and lie north of US Route 40/National Pike. The trail and the Recreation Area are approached through a residential area. Follow the directions carefully as there is a one-way street involved.
From points east, including the Baltimore area: Use I-70 westbound; then take Exit 1A (left lanes) to I-68 westbound to reach the Frostburg area. At Frostburg, take Exit 34 to MD Route 36 northbound. In 2.4 miles, turn left to go west on West Main Street/National Pike/Alt US 40. This will take you through the heart of downtown Frostburg to the west side of town. In 0.5 miles, turn right to go north on Armstrong Avenue (landmark: Sand Springs Saloon just ahead on the left). Stay on Armstrong for several blocks, then turn left onto Delano Street. From here, there are two (or more) options to reach the Cross Country Trail.
From Annapolis and the Eastern Shore: From the Eastern Shore, use US Route 50 to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and continue toward Annapolis on Route 50. Take Exit 21 for I-97 northbound toward Baltimore. In 17.8 miles, from I-97 take Exit 17 for the Baltimore Beltway toward Towson; you’ll be on the Inner Loop of the Beltway and heading north. In 9.8 miles, take Exit 16 for I-70 westbound toward Frederick. Then follow directions as give above from points east.
From the Washington, DC area: From the DC Beltway (I-495), take I-270 northwest to Frederick. At Frederick, follow signs to merge onto I-70 westbound. Then follow directions as give above from points east.
From points west (Garrett County): Take I-68 eastbound to Exit 29 for MD Route 546/Finzel Road and Beall School Road. At the end of the exit ramp, turn right to go north on Route 546/Finzel Road. In 0.6 miles, turn right and then another immediate right for Route 946/Old Finzel Road, southbound. In 0.6 miles, Old Finzel Road will bring you to a T-intersection at Alt US 40/National Pike at the west edge of Frostburg. Turn right to take National Pike eastward. Follow the National Pike/Alt US 40 for 2.6 miles (watch the curves!). After passing Charlie’s Motel on the right and going up a small hill, turn left to go north on Armstrong Avenue landmark: Sand Springs Saloon just ahead on the left). Stay on Armstrong for several blocks, then turn left onto Delano Street. From here, there are two (or more) options to reach the Cross Country Trail.
NOTE: To return to National Pike/Alt US Route 40, you can simply turn south onto Shaw Street from Espy Avenue/Recreation Drive. The first block of Shaw Street is one-way heading toward National Pike. This affects the approach to the Glendening Recreation Complex and the Cross Country Trail but not exiting from it.
Allegany County: C&O Canal – North Branch Recreational Area ◾ C&O Canal – Spring Gap & Oldtown ◾ C&O Canal Terminus ◾ C&O Canal – Town Creek Aqueduct to Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueduct ◾ Finzel Swamp Preserve (see entry under Garrett County) ◾ Green Ridge State Forest & Town Hill Overlook ◾ Rocky Gap State Park
ConifersHedgerowsUpland Deciduous Lawn, Ballfields, Golf CourseUrban or Small Town Landscape Old Fields, Shrubby Meadows Forested SwampFreshwater Marsh or FloodplainFreshwater Pond, Lake, or ReservoirRivers & Streams
Features and Amenities:Ball Fields or Other SportsBeginnersBicycle Trails (Bikes may be prohibited on some trails)FishingFree - No Entry Fee at Any TimeHiking/Walking TrailsParkingPets AllowedPicnic AreaPlaygroundRestroomsWheelchair Accessible FeaturesYoung People / Families
Type:Community and Urban Parks