A Winter Wonderland
A Winter Wonderland
Sideling Hill is one of the best rock exposures in Maryland and quite possibly in the entire northeastern United States. Sideling Hill is located approximately 6 miles west of Hancock between Cumberland and Hagerstown in Washington County, Maryland where Interstate 68 cuts through the mountain.
To help provide the public with a better understanding of the geology of the cut, an exhibit center was constructed. A noticeable feature when you look at the exposure is the ever-present water flowing from the sides of the hill. During the winter months, a beautiful ice cascade can be seen as the flowing water freezes--a winter wonderland.
If weather permits, take a walk outside up the fenced walkway, to view the cut up close. Several geologic wayside stations help you interpret what you see. A walk over the pedestrian bridge offers good photo opportunities from the middle of the bridge, as well as from the opposite side, south of the road.
Sideling Hill attracts nearly 100,000 people per year. It is part of the Appalachian Mountains specifically the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians and crosses Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Sideling Hill has been a formidable obstacle to travel since the earliest days when settlers ventured west. Before the cut through the mountain, travelers crossed the mountain about two miles to the south on U.S. 30. A new route to the west was badly needed to meet interstate standards. Construction of the road cut began in 1983. Highway construction cut through the mountain exposing almost 850 vertical feet of syncline that had formed nearly 350 million years ago--that's 100 million years before the dinosaurs!
Although other exposures may surpass Sideling Hill in either thickness of exposed strata or in quality of geologic structure, but few can equal its combination of both. Sideling Hill Visitor Center is on Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area's (WMA) 3,000-acres of mixed oak-hickory forest that straddles Sideling Hill Creek. This area in the mountains is a wonderful place for outdoor adventurers; this is a prime location for mountain landscape and wildlife, especially in the spring when the wildflowers of the forest floor and the mountain laurel bloom. The history of the mountains has left scenic cliffs where rocky projections of shale and sandstone. Sideling Hill has much to offer. A wide bridge takes visitors from one side of the interstate to the other side, all while enjoying a fabulous, breath-taking view.
Many travelers simply stop and tour the four-story Sideling Hill Exhibit Center. The center gives visitors from around the United States a unique opportunity to stop and view one of the best rock exposures in the northeastern United States.
The Exhibit Center is open daily from 9am until 5pm, except for major holidays. Restrooms are available 24 hours a day.